America – The True Meaning in a Children’s Book

The perfect book.  Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus captures the heart of America.  The stunning illustrations by Kadir Nelson make the simple text explode with meaning.  It is history:

White Rows.  White Rows

When I turned to this page, I choked up.  Two words, and two important stories.  How can one not talk about the white rows of covered wagons traveling west?  It is a part of American history.  And, how can one not talk about the white rows on the American flag?  Purity and innocence.  It’s an open door to learn about the flag.  It is the heart of America:

All American.  All American

Baseball, a veteran granddad with his grandson; this is “All American.”  In the words of the illustrator, “It beautifully draws parallels between the American landscape, the diversity of its people, and the symbolism stitched into the fabric.”

Yes, it does!  I like to think that the fabric encompasses far more than the flag; our foundation, our values, our community.  And, our big, wide, wonderful landscape:

Old Glory.  Old Glory.

I hadn’t thought about the Grand Canyon as “Old Glory.”  Nor had I thought about fireworks as “Old Glory.”  As soon as I saw this page, I understood.  Those words are the nickname for the American flag, yet they are so much more.  You see, while the flag is a symbol of our country, so are many other things.  We are a nation of many people.  The author thought of the deep blue sky dotted with white stars that the early immigrants saw coming to America.  That was the inspiration for the book.  We are one nation:

Sew together won nation.  So together one nation.

Powerful words.  Let’s remember what is most important; being one, being together.  That is the greatest strength.

Funny thing~ I teach this to my preschoolers every single day.  We are one, we are a family.  We are all different, yet we come to the table together.  When I read this book to my class of children, we stop at least a hundred times to talk.  There is so much to learn.

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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50 Responses to America – The True Meaning in a Children’s Book

  1. Darlene says:

    Such an amazing book. I love the diversity of the American people depicted in the illustrations. Let’s face it, both the USA and Canada of today have been created by people of many races and cultures. So glad this is being taught in the classrooms.

  2. Further to what Darlene (above) said, I think it would be healthier for us (Canadians, anyway) to look ahead at how to make our country work with all of us in it, rather than spend so much time trying to rewrite the past and apologizing for things that may have happened hundreds of years ago. That is history, and we should appreciate where we are now and where we are going. I think a book like this (Blue Sky, White Stars) shows that we all have worked to build a great nation.

  3. I love your patriotism, Jennie. People in South Africa aren’t patriotic at all. This sounds like a wonderful book.

    • Jennie says:

      That is a shame, Robbie. I think it would be good if all people felt patriotic. Perhaps a similar children’s book on South Africa would be something you could do? When I do a unit on another country at school, that is just the kind of book I would like to use and read aloud. Just thinking out loud. 🙂

  4. Ellen says:

    OH MY STARS,again!! Before I comment on this book, I must go back to the day that Benjamin was born…January 7, 2014. This was the same day that the book “Baby Bear”,written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, was published. It was one of the very first books that I purchased and read to him while still an infant. It has always been a favorite that we call his birthday book! This was followed by Nelson’s equally wonderful “If You Plant a Seed” in March of 2015, that also quickly became a favorite of ours during storytime. It was through Kadir Nelson that I read of his illustrating Sarvinder Naberhaus’s book “Blue Sky White Stars” in June of 2017. This book is a blending of two immense talents, her words and his art, and the outcome is a treasure. We love it!! Thank-you!

    • Jennie says:

      I should be the one who says OH MY STARS! How perfect! I absolutely love Kadir Nelson’s books, particularly his illustrations. “If You Plant a Seed” is a favorite. I’m so glad that you have discovered these wonderful books, Ellen. I don’t know “Baby Bear”. I must run to the library and find the book. Really. How special that book must be for you and Benjamin!

      I found “Blue Sky White Stars” at the Eric Carle Museum. Their book store is the best (and I’m picky). You should have seen me there as I read the book, melting into a puddle. Then, the following year the museum had an exhibit of illustrators and their favorite illustrators. It was marvelous! While I don’t remember Kadir’s favorite, I vividly remember the display of his piece of art. Wow! I couldn’t stop looking. Seeing the real deal is a priceless experience. Thank you, Ellen.

  5. beetleypete says:

    Such a clever play on words, with those illustrations. I often wonder if the USA is the most patriotic nation on Earth. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Definitely a very clever play on words, Pete. You pose an interesting thought, if the USA is the most patriotic nation. Darlene from Canada and Robbie from South Africa tell me that their countries don’t have patriotism. I find that sad for any nation. We all need to feel good about ourselves and also our country. Best to you, Pete.

  6. Thank you so very much for this lovely and moving post.

  7. GP Cox says:

    Enjoy, Jennie!!

    • Jennie says:

      Will do! And you too, GP! My fellow bloggers from other countries tell me that they don’t have patriotism. How sad. We are lucky, and I will always champion patriotism. 🇺🇸

      • GP Cox says:

        Perhaps those people in the other countries need to work harder to make their own country something to feel patriotic about.

  8. An amazing book, Jennie. Thank you.

  9. Ritu says:

    What a beautiful book and message 😍

  10. What a wonderful message and book Jennie! Your narrative and patriotic spirit made me a bit weepy. I’m going to have to add this book to my library. #1 and Littlest must hear it and see its images.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Deborah. You won’t be disappointed, as this is the true patriotic spirit of America. The illustrations will take your breath away.

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for a wonderful post!

  12. That is, as always, a beautiful and carefully worded post and one that will inspire for centuries, Jennie. Thank you for always thinking of the best things for the children and for us adults too. When we talk of Patriotism, I was thinking about that a lot when I posted about the upcoming holiday and I realized that although no country in the world is without some issues, the U.S. is still probably one of the few where the majority of people can still enjoy and appreciate their freedom. Is it any wonder that a country like South Africa has no patriotism when the people cannot depend from day to day on any real measure of not only freedom, but the right and ability to live a decent life where they can earn enough to feed all their children, and good schools that are integrated where their children can learn and grow up. Yes, we are so lucky here in the U.S. and I honestly hope that none of us ever forget it.

    • Well said, Anne! I heartily concur.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Anne. We are very lucky in America. Patriotism is important to most people, and the every day guy over here on the Fourth of July looks at the flag with pride. I think this grounds us. It is fun when we’re children, and then it becomes important when we’re adults. I wish people in other countries could feel patriotic. Everyone needs to feel pride and a connection with their country. Yes, we are the lucky ones. Never forget.

  13. Opher says:

    One world: One family!

  14. srbottch says:

    Yes, we are ‘one’ people, Jennie. We seem to be dividing into groups now and that’s not healthy for our wonderful country.

    • Jennie says:

      You are absolutely right, Steve. That’s why I love this book. I’d love to be at your crossing corner holding up and yelling to everyone, “White Rows, White rows.” Maybe someone would stop and… well, you know what I mean.

  15. What a wonderful book. This is true community building. Thank you for sharing. Michael

  16. I can see you standing in a bookstore, giddy with glee and dancing a bit of a jig that a passerby would wonder if you had just found money in that book. 🙂 Your exuberance is contagious. You are passing it on to the next generations in your classroom and here to your followers. You make us hopeful that enough will get it sooner than later that we must all stand together. We are one. You are one of the best! Thank you for this.

    • Jennie says:

      Wow! That is wonderful, Marlene. At the bookstore, I was a cross between a three year old and an adult who had just discovered the meaning of life. Exuberance is contagious, and if someone can catch a bit of mine, and ‘get it’, then I have given a great gift. And that’s as good as it gets. Thank you, Marlene!

  17. CarolCooks2 says:

    A lovely book and message, Jennie…Thailand is a very patriotic country and also very community-minded and is one thing I love about living here…The community/sharing spirit is very strong here which is lovely to see and most people truly are very kind. Happy July 4th 🙂 x

  18. Dan Antion says:

    I wasn’t aware of this book, Jennie. Thanks for walking us through it.

  19. dgkaye says:

    In today’s sad world, those children are blessed to have you in so many ways Jennie ❤

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