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Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters Hardcover – November 16, 2010

337 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Take a Look Inside Of Thee I Sing
Click on the photos below to view the full spreads from the book.

You Are Part of a Family

You Have Your Own Song

You Are a Healer

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–5—In characteristically measured prose, the 44th President introduces 13 American icons and heroes as exemplars of personal virtues, from Georgia O'Keeffe (creativity) and Jackie Robinson (courage) to Helen Keller (strength) and Cesar Chavez (inspiration). Though he includes Billie Holiday in his gallery (a gifted singer, but an iffy role model) along with a free translation of Chavez's !Si se puede! as "Yes, you can!" (which was his campaign slogan: the official UFW version is a more accurate but stiffer "Yes, it can be done!"), Obama offers general but cogent summations of why each figure merits admiration—Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, "taught us unyielding compassion," and Helen Keller, "never waiting for life to get easier," "gave others courage to face their challenges." Long's superb technical gifts and gentle sense of humor shine in the pictures. Posed nobly and, usually, hard at work in full-page scenes, each man or woman also appears as a willowy but recognizable child on the facing and following pages, joining a growing crowd of young observers gazing across the center stitching and exchanging symbolic tools of their various trades. Their ranks swelled with more children, these younger versions turn to face viewers on the penultimate spread, followed by a closing painting of the author walking with his daughters and a page of reasonably accurate historical notes. As well as offering thought-provoking choices and commentary, this stately outing leads naturally to Lynne Cheney's more populous America: A Patriotic Primer (S & S, 2002) as first introductions to our country's great ones.—John Peters, formerly at New York Public Library
(c) Copyright 2011.  Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 12
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Louisiana Young Reader's Choice Awards 2013 Grades 3-5
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (November 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037583527X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375835278
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.4 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

187 of 212 people found the following review helpful By ALB on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All politics aside, this really is a beautiful book with a wonderful message. I hope that people who dislike President Obama's choices in office will not cast aside this book without taking a look first. The pictures are absolutely incredible, and I will definitely be checking out more books that Loren Long has illustrated. I agree with some of the other reviewers that some of the examples of great Americans seem a little odd, but I appreciate the sentiments behind all of them, and I think this book could inspire young readers to learn more about some of these people. I like that there is a short bio of each person in the back of the book, as I did not know who Jane Addams was. It is obvious that the book is trying to appeal to a wide range of people, and I think this is as it should be...the core message of the book is that our country is made up of all types of people and that we all bring different talents and ideas to the table. Some of the writing is really beautiful, but some of it does seem a little stilted, and some of the word choices make me wonder what age group this book was really written for.

I hope that everyone will note that President Obama wrote this book before he was in office and that 100% of the profits are being donated to a charity for the children of disabled veterans. I think it is a hard heart indeed that could not agree that this is a beautiful book being sold for a good cause.
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363 of 419 people found the following review helpful By Mary Kate on November 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Aimed at young children, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters offers brief glimpses of how the contributions of a single person can touch lives, inspire others and sometimes, change the course of history. Written before he became president, Obama here chooses a baker's dozen Americans to illustrate traits such as courage, creativity and intelligence that he sees in his daughters and encourages young people to find and develop in themselves. Those chosen - including George Washington, Jackie Robinson, Billie Holliday, Cesar Chavez, Helen Keller & Sitting Bull - capture ethnic diversity and include a good balance of men and women.

While the text is sparse, the President has a nice turn of phrase and the accompanying artwork by Loren Long is simply wonderful. Best of all, though, is the subject, which offers a great jumping off point for parents to talk to their children, not only about the people profiled, but of their own talents and opportunities and of the importance of contributing to society.

I have something of a love affair with cover art and I just want to note that the cover of this book really appeals to me. The image of two young girls (Sasha and Malia Obama with their dog, Bo, but representative of all children) marching along with a spring in their step beautifully conveys an air of optimism and confidence - two things I long to see in all children and that our country could use more of at this time.

Highly recommended.
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87 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Michelle R on November 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No matter what your age, this book is simply lovely. It celebrates the potential in our children, the seeds of greatness we must nurture. The illustrations are simple and beautiful, enhancing the poetry and meaning of the text. (The illustrator is Loren Long.) The girls, clearly meant to represent Sasha and Malia, are told about the qualities they possess and then told about someone who exemplifies that quality -- that person as a child is then shown to be standing next to the girls until there's a crowd of children standing together.

At the back of the book is a little more about each person represented in the book so that, hopefully, an interest in learning even more might be fostered.

The people represented are:

Georgia O'Keefe
Albert Einstein
Jackie Robinson
Sitting Bull
Billie Holiday
Helen Keller
Maya Lin
Jane Addams
Dr. Martin Luther King
Neil Armstrong
Cesar Chavez
Abraham Lincoln
& George Washington

The attributes honored include kindness, bravery, persistence, patriotism, honoring the sacrifices of others, and creativity.

Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?
How the sound of your feet
running from afar
brings dancing rhythms to my day?
How you laugh
and sunshine spills into the room?

5 stars.
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133 of 174 people found the following review helpful By NovelAddict on November 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This letter to the Obama daughters is inspiring for children and adults alike. This children's book is uplifting and unexpectedly informational while paying homage to thirteen icons that helped change and shape this country. The introduction to each great American visionary starts with seemingly simple words, "Have I told you. . . ?". This book is beyond creative, full of love, and well rounded. Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters is diverse, promotes equality, and without a doubt has the power to inspire every person with the snippets of courageous, patriotic, and brilliant Americans.

Award-winning Loren Long did an amazing job illustrating President Barack Obama's meaningful words. His artwork is simply sensational, and begins with Malia and Sasha standing by themselves when their father first asks, "Have I told you?". As Barack Obama teaches his daughters of a these amazing Americans, the visuals quickly turn into the girls standing with children that reflect the strengths of the American figures previously mentioned. The illustration concept is not only heartwarming but genius, and I found myself excited to view the upcoming pages.
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