In my family the Fourth of July was a big deal. My family loved to celebrate the birth of the United States of America. We knew who the founding fathers were. Because of this I tend to pay attention to the many myriad of picture books that are published about Americana themes. Here are my top five favorite Americana picture books to get even the younger readers in the mood for any patriotic holiday.
JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, AND BEN
by Lane Smith
John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Ben Franklin are four of the most famous early American patriots. In this humorous picture book author and illustrator Lane Smith explains why these four men were so important. Smith also throws in a few tidbits for the adults who will tend to read this book to youngsters by comparing these patriots to another John, Paul, George and…Ringo who also made a historical impact.
ABE’S HONEST WORDS: THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
One of the most beloved past presidents of the United States is Abraham Lincoln. Arguably he could be credited with holding this country together. In this biography Doreen Rappaport shows not only the great accomplishments that Lincoln was able to achieve, but she also includes actual quotes from speeches or writings of Lincoln. Readers can learn from his actual words just exactly what he thought and said. And to top it all off, the illustrations by Nelson are sure to keep young readers interested in this great man.
WORST OF FRIENDS: THOMAS JEFFERSON, JOHN ADAMS, AND THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN FEUD
by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain, illustrated by Larry Day
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are both credited as being founding fathers of the USA. And at times they were great allies and friends. But there is also a history of the two patriots being frustrated and angry with each other. Jurmain tells younger readers about the impact that these two great men had on the young nation as well as explaining their whole history—including the quarrels and disagreements.
by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Cece Bell
Granted, this isn’t a picture book about a particular founding father or patriot—but it is a picture book about an Americana legend. Yankee Doodle is a song that most children sing around holidays such as the Fourth of July. In this picture book twist Crankee Doodle is just that—cranky. His horse has to try to convince him to head to town and complete what children know should happen according to the song. Kiddos who especially love twists and silliness will enjoy reading this parody.
THE PRESIDENT’S STUCK IN THE BATHTUB: POEMS ABOUT THE PRESIDENTS
by Susan Katz, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
There are a lot of Americana books for young readers that are about the early days of the United States; but what about the American spirit that is still around today? This particular book is full of poems of all the many Presidents of the United States. They tell about all sorts of somewhat unknown facts (like how one particular president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get help to get out). With a variety of Presidents and time-periods young readers will learn that Americana picture books aren’t just about things that happened in the distant past—they can also be about what happened more recently