Growing Reader

9 Patriotic Books to Celebrate Independence Day

by Miranda Rosbach

Background credit: Barry Marcus, Image Bank Collection/Getty Images

Ahh, the Fourth of July! When citizens across the country gather to celebrate America’s birth as a nation. While parades, BBQs, and fireworks are always on the menu, the weeks leading up to Independence Day can be a prime time to delve into the rich history of the people and places that make this nation special. A mix of fact and fiction, these nine picture books will undoubtedly enrich your family’s summer reading.

  • Independence Cake

    by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Giselle Potter

    Amelia Simmons, orphaned in the late 1800s, was sent to live with the Bean family and work as their domestic servant. In addition to scrubbing, spinning, and laundering, Amelia learned how to cook. Her baking skills quickly became known throughout her community, earning her the prestige of a special commission — contributing thirteen cakes (one for each colony) to celebrate George Washington’s inauguration. She eventually went on to publish the first American cookbook, American Cookery, in 1796.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

  • How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.

    by Marjorie Priceman

    This book opens to a map of the U.S. and a cherry pie recipe. Follow one girl as she gathers the essential items to make a pie: a bowl, a rolling pin, a pie pan, potholders, and more. However, if those items aren’t on hand, one can simply buy them from a Cook Shop. But if the Cook Shop is closed, well, then you’re destined to traipse across the country, stopping at various states along the way to gather raw materials that will eventually result in a patriotic dessert. A scavenger hunt akin to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this book is fun for the whole family.
    (Ages 5 – 8)

  • Lady Liberty’s Holiday

    by Jen Arena, illustrated by Matt Hunt

    Fed up with the same city views and standing in place for decades, Lady Liberty sneaks away one night, allowing herself an overdue vacation. Leaving footprints on the Jersey Shore, stopping for a rest at Niagara Falls, and running through Kansas wheat fields, Lady Liberty cavorts through the country, all while the citizens of New York feel the gaping hole of her unexpected departure. Will Lady Liberty make it back in time for the Fourth of July festivities? Find out in this spirited romp.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

  • Blue Sky White Stars

    by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

    Though sparsely worded, Blue Sky White Stars features an array of hopeful and diverse faces, interspersed with expansive landscapes and historic events. Each poignant spread showcases the many citizens that have contributed to shaping the heartbeat of a nation. Indeed, you’ll soon discover that this book becomes more meaningful with each read.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

  • Grover Cleveland, Again!

    by Ken Burns, illustrated by Gerald Kelley

    From celebrated historian and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns comes a thorough reference guide of U.S. presidents. Complete with biographical information and famous stories, the entertaining title brings each Commander in Chief to life through compelling illustrations and thoughtful anecdotes. If you have an avid older reader, this nonfiction title is the ultimate summer companion.
    (Ages 10+)

  • We Came To America

    by Faith Ringgold

    “We Came to America, every color, race, and religion, from every country in the world.” Award-winning author Faith Ringgold pays homage to each of our ancestors and their journeys in this important and inclusive book dedicated to all the children who immigrate to America. Especially timely for today’s youth, it would make an excellent addition to any school classroom or home library.
    (Ages 5 – 8)

  • My Fourth of July

    by Jerry Spinelli, illustrated by Larry Day

    A young boy wakes to NOISE! Still clad in pajamas, he rushes outside to join the merry band of neighbors all parading through town and eager for the day’s festivities — a day when Dad stays home all day and Mom makes a picnic fit to feed an army. Wagon loaded, the family passes a festooned train and finally arrives at the park to claim their picnic table amongst the crowd. Beautifully paced with energetic illustrations, this book is bound to become a seasonal favorite.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

  • What’s the Big Deal About Americans?

    by Ruby Shamir, illustrated by Matt Faulkner

    The fourth book in a series (preceded by the topics freedom, first ladies, and elections), this trivia and fact-heavy book is all about Americans and their contribution to the world at large. Authored by a former Washington D.C. insider, readers learn of immigrants and American-made inventions. An ideal read for budding historians.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

  • The Night Before the Fourth of July

    by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer

    This rhyming poem follows a young family as they head off to the parade while donning red, white, and blue. What follows are familiar holiday rituals and an unwanted afternoon thunderstorm. This book is a great primer to introduce the Fourth of July to little ones who may be experiencing all the delights for the first time (including staying up past bedtime!).
    (Ages 3 – 5)