Celebrate the Fourth of July!

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Celebrate the Fourth of July!

Independence Day picture books

Help your child learn about and celebrate the Fourth of July as you read these patriotic picture books together! The books tell why and how we celebrate the Fourth of July, and some of the books show how the holiday is celebrated differently in different parts of America.

Red, White, and Boom by Lee Wardlaw
This is a delightful book with a diverse cast of characters. The book has short and sweet with simple rhymes, and shows the different events that the characters experience on the Fourth of July: watching the parade, going to the beach and having a picnic and watching the fireworks. Some of my favorite rhymes from the book are as follows -- and I also like the collage style illustrations: 

"Shoulder seat
Thumping beat
July 4th drums down the street!"
"Frisbee zips
Doggie flips
Spike the ball 
Picnic sprawl"
"Peacock plume
Sunburst bloom
Star flakes spill
Heart-thump thrill"

Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet Wong
Wong's book tells the story of a Chinese girl whose parents own a Chinese restaurant that is open on the Fourth of July. In vain, she tells her parents that absolutely no one will want Chinese food on the Fourth of July! Her father reminds her that fireworks are Chinese. Later on that day, they get many customers who order Chinese food at the restaurant. The day closes with the girl and her parents climbing up to the rooftop, eating apple pie and watching fireworks.

Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July by Kathy Whitehead
Somewhere in the Southwest, Joe and his parents go to the Fourth of July parade. Joe looks and looks for his Uncle Louie, but can’t find him. Where is he? Joe and his parents watch as the colorful parade marches by. There are soldiers carrying flags, baton twirlers, dancers in boots and bandanas, a conjunto band, clowns and horseback riders. Finally, the lowriders come by. Uncle Louie pulls up in a “long, low car, Lady Liberty painted on the hood, and eight flags flapping, front to back, on this star-spangled ride."Joe is thrilled when Uncle Louie stops the car, opens the door, and waves him inside! Joe gets to be part of the parade, and most importantly, he has found his Uncle Louie.

Happy Birthday, America by Mary Pope Osborne
In her author’s note, Osborne mentions that she was inspired to write the book after she and her husband spent the Fourth of July in a town in southeastern Pennsylvania. Joe and his family participate in many events during the Fourth of July -- and some of the events are the kind that you would find in a small town where neighbors are close to each other and the community is strong. Joe and his dog participate in the Pet Parade. Joe’s Grandma sells raffle tickets for the American Legion Squadron 242 and Joe pitches pennies at the Kiwanis booth. He wins a blue bunny and gives it to the baby, Jess. When I read this book, I felt like I was experiencing the Fourth of July in a small town. I also love Osborne’s lyrical language. For example, when the author is describing the fireworks:

“A moment of silence.
Then huge bursts of light,
One on top of the other,
And a million pieces of gold
Rain down on the trees
Near the flag that is still there.”

Biscuit’s Fourth of July by Alyssa Capucilli
In this delightful and charming picture book, a girl and her puppy celebrate the Fourth of July together. She tells Biscuit how they celebrate the Fourth of July and Biscuit, a playful puppy, tries to “help” with the preparations. She hangs the flag and Biscuit helps by pulling the blue streamers. She picks apples to make an apple pie and Biscuit starts to pick the strawberries. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Biscuit tries to join the Fourth of July parade. The day ends with the girl and Biscuit watching the fireworks together.

Celebrate Independence Day by Amy Hayes
Written for ages 4 through 8, this book provides a simple explanation of what Independence Day is and how and why we celebrate it. A glossary of terms is included in the back along with an index.

Pie is for Sharing by Stephnie Parsley Ledyard
In this delightful book, children learn the joy of sharing as they celebrate the Fourth of July by having a picnic, going to the beach, and watching fireworks. As the author mentions, it's hard to share pie because "you can slice it into as many pieces as you wish. Almost." What else can children share? They can share a book, a ball and a tree. Children can also share a jump rope, a rhyme and time. As the author mentions, some things are harder to share than others, such as your best friend who happens to be a dog.

Betsy Ross by Becky White
With short sentences that have easy to comprehend vocabulary, as well as bright vivid pictures, White's book tells the story of the steps Betsy Ross took to make our first flag. In the first picture, Betsy rips a red cloth to make "seven rich, crimson strips." She clips a white silk slip and cuts the white stars from it. The book shows how she used indigo dye to dye some of the cloth blue. When she is finished, Betsy stands smiling at the flag that is flying. The book also includes an author's note on the history of how the first American flag was made -- and instructions on how children can make their own Betsy Ross Star.

Hats Off for the Fourth of July! by Harriet Ziefert
This book tells the story of a Fourth of July parade in Chatham, Massachusetts which is a real life parade that occurs annually. The parade features baton twirlers, cowboys, clowns, the high school band, motorcycles and marching patriots with muskets and hats. The parade also has unusual floats such as a whale watch float and a float with Miss Eelgrass who is a mermaid with green hair. The parade ends with an airplane writing Happy 4th in the sky. The illustrations make the reader feel like he or she is standing on the sidewalk watching the parade go by.

In 1776 by Jean Marzollo
In her book, Marzollo does an excellent job of explaining the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence to children through a short succinct catchy rhyme format and whimsical illustrations! Some of my favorite rhymes in this book are as follows:

“The colonists were angry
Because they had no say
When the British king gave orders
Three thousand miles away.”
“The king said, “Pay more taxes!”
Americans said, “No!”
Some even told the British,
“It’s time for you to go.”
I also like how the conclusion of the book reminds us that there is always a struggle for liberty:

“The war was over long ago;
The U.S. and Britain are now good friends.
The Declaration still guides us all;
The struggle for liberty never ends.”
Another feature that I like about this book is the section at the beginning of the book for parents, teachers and librarians: Helping Children Understand the American Revolution.