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Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama, Illustrated by Loren Long

November 23, 2010

I admit that *sometimes* books written by famous people are not always the best-written books out there. Of Thee I Sing, however, is a delightful surprise- moving, inspirational, and beautifully illustrated by the talented Loren Long. President Obama’s simple portrait of thirteen groundbreaking Americans and their contributions to society takes the form of a letter to his young daughters, a style that works as a read-aloud for young and older readers alike. In addition to clearly depicting why these heroes were so important to American society in terms that young children will understand, President Obama’s text is poetic. I love the thought of reading lines like these he wrote about Helen Keller aloud to my young daughter, “Never waiting for life to get easier, she gave others courage to face their challenges.”  And another beautiful line, written about the less well-known Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, “Public spaces should be filled with art, she thought, so that we can walk amidst it, recalling the past and inspired to fix the future.”  On a more personal note, President Obama writes each page’s introduction as a question to his daughters, some simple (“Have I told you that you are brave?”) and some more profound (“Have I told you how important it is to honor others’ sacrifices?”) My favorite line in the book is one I know all parents have felt but may not have said so eloquently, “[How] you laugh, and sunshine spills into the room.” I think words like these give the book a touching, intimate feel that makes it more than a series of biographies.

I know this book will be a valued part of our family library, and I hope that my children will be as inspired by this letter one day as I have been reading it today. Please don’t miss the video below. In it, Loren Long discusses why he feels so emotionally connected to the creation of the book and shows the creation of some of his gorgeous illustrations.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, Sitting Bull, Billie Holiday, Helen Keller, Maya Lin, Jane Addams, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Neil Armstrong, Cesar Chavez, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.  These are the thirteen Americans heroes President Obama chose for this book to exemplify inspiration, hope and achievement.  We’d love for you to share in the comment section which groundbreaking Americans have inspired you.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 9:57 am

    This looks like a beautiful book.


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