I Pledge Allegiance by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson

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Classroom teachers are often looking for books that lend themselves to integration across subjects.  If you want a way to intertwine children’s literature with American history and civic education, look no further. I Pledge Allegiance by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson is a cross-curricular gem.

In I Pledge Allegiance, Martin Jr. and Sampson examine the individual words in the Pledge, giving each word or phrase its own page and illustrations.  In its final pages, the book shares some of the big ideas upon which the U.S. is built–ideas like fairness, freedom, unity, equality, creativity, and variety. The final pages also leave children with an understanding of the American flag’s significance–what the flag symbolizes for people across the ages.  It even speaks directly to the reader, that the flag stands for “the hopes and feelings of the American people–people like…YOU!”

At first thought, the Pledge of Allegiance might seem an obtuse topic to explain to young children, but the authors do a wonderful job of forming their book around kid-friendly language and examples. For instance, on the page for “allegiance,” the text explains “allegiance is loyalty,” and Chris Raschka’s accompanying illustrations depict a dog wagging its tail.  Across the pages of the book, the text and colorful cartoon-like illustrations complement and enhance one another.

The pages are rife with not only word explanations, but also historical facts and contemporary applications.  This book highlights lots of useful information many adults may not even know: the symbolism of the American flag’s colors, the year the Pledge was written, and the Pledge’s initial purpose. The book truly helps young children understand the meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance.  Additionally, the powerful, clear, carefully-determined text helps young children connect the origins of our nation to modern America, via an awareness of the nation’s fundamental values.  I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers alike.  Both parents and teachers will find it a great resource for introducing children to topics such as democracy, civics, and beliefs and values in a fun and inviting way.  This book would be fantastic fodder for many deep conversations between children and adults.

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