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Reading My Library

Friday, February 12, 2010

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful, by Katherine Lee Bates (illustrated by Chris Gall) just went on my Amazon wish list. Must. own. it.

A great-great-grandnephew of Katharine Lee Bates writes the introduction to this book, giving the history and background of the poem America the Beautiful" which was first published in a Boston church publication, The Congregationalist. Set to music which was written by Smauel Ward, we recognize these words as patriotic song:

Oh beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Illustrated by Chris Gall and including the entire text of the poem, the book has a vintage feel - kind of like a 1940's war poster. Each page spread depicts a scene from American life. Sometimes we are looking at a picture of farm life, like the following:

However, this book also captures events such as 9/11 with the same nostalgic feel. As stated in the introduction, this poem, this song and this book are all a "reminder of all that we have, and of all that we need to preserve."

Amen to that!

Skip the library. Buy the book!


  1. The cover alone had me sold! I just love that illustrative style, and your review is more than convincing. :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Max would love this! What beautiful artwork! Thank you!

  3. It looks gorgeous. I just put it on hold at our library.

    Can you tell us if the pictures of Americans are racially diverse? Thanks so much for mentioning this one.

  4. What a beautiful book! I'm adding it to my wish list too.

  5. Wiggins - Honestly, I failed to notice so I can't tell you (and I already took the book back).

  6. The illustrations are just gorgeous!

  7. This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. I love patriotic books not only for our home but also the classroom.

  8. Looks like a great book to read in July. :)