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Picture Book Thursday: You're A Grand Old Flag

FlagYou’re a Grand Old Flag
Lyrics by George M. Cohan, Illustrated by Norman Rockwell
Atheneum
Age Range 4-12 years





America_4 America: The Making of a Nation
Written and illustrated by Charlie Samuels
Little, Brown and Company
Age Range 5-15 years

Hey folks. Picture Book Thursday is here and Labor Day has left me in a patriotic mood. I think it was all the flags I saw being hung downtown. While I’m not decked out in red, white and blue, I am sitting here with two titles that celebrate America.

You’re a Grand Old Flag,
as illustrated by Norman Rockwell, is a gorgeous book, pairing classic Rockwell illustrations with the lyrics to that afore-mentioned famous song. John Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s grandson, provides a foreword complete with fun facts and blessing. I bet you didn’t know this famous artist had completed 321 covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

While the pages featuring the lyrics sport a band of stars along the edge of the page, the illustrations themselves are set off by simple white borders set on a background of cloth. This simple layout and design add to the patriotic theme, complementing the illustrations, rather than detracting from them. In the back of the book, a section entitled "Illustration Credits" gives more information on the artwork.

Now I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Rockwell Museum and would be remiss if I didn’t include the link to the Teachers’ Resources page. You can check out the Educator’s Resource Packet (PDF) or download A New Viewpoint: Rockwell Lesson Plans for Secondary Students (PDF).

And onto our next book…

Charlie Samuels’ America: The Making of a Nation is an absolute treasure trove of Americana, filled with fold-out pages, flaps, brochures and leaflets. Students and adults alike will enjoy poring over the pages, discovering bits of information tucked into unique pages. Samuels introduces the reader to the book through the use of a journal, “If you’re reading this, you’ve discovered my life’s most treasured possessions. That’s what this suitcase of memories is all about.” The suitcase of memories goes on to share all sorts of fun facts and info:

  • Thomas Jefferson and John Adams “died within hours of each other – on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.”
  • When Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon, “Nasa had invented a lightweight flagpole with a horizontal telescoping bar to stiffen the flag outward, while wire inside the flag’s nylon fabric made it appear to fly – even though there is no wind on the moon.”
  • “It takes 570 gallons of paint to cover the White House.”

Activity
Choose another patriotic song to create a bulletin board display, using materials from these two books, as well as others. Invite students to share their research as reproductions of primary source materials. As an extension, create a classroom book based on this project and send home copies with your students.

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