National Anthem Picture Books
Strange how listening to the radio spurs on a serendipitous event, leading to books – and then to a blog.
A DJ named Phlash Phelps on Sirius XM was interviewing a singer named Janine Stange this morning.
On 8/28/14, Janine Stange made history with an historical anthem. She sang “The Star Spangled Banner”, our national anthem, in all 50 states over a journey that made history – and memories. Her attempt was to rekindle a dormant patriotic spirit and to recall, with the anthem, heroes that sacrificed much for our freedoms.
Last year, 2014, was the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s composition of his stanzas making up a poem, eventually set, strangely, to a British tune.
It was inspired while watching the British shell Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812.
This 90 second song has rallied and united a nation in both terrible and triumphant times.
It has been sung in sports stadiums, arenas, in schools and any number of venues where people gather in large numbers. People generally are comfortable with the first stanza and it usually falls off the memory bank from there.
Though there are multiple stanzas; four to be exact; “And the rockets red glare, The bombs bursting in air.” is the toughest note to sing. But when done in a powerful, resonant voice, it is stirring! My favorite is this verse:
Oh! thus be it ever when
freemen shall stand
Between their loved home
and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace,
may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath
made and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must,
when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In
God is our trust.”
And the star spangled
banner in triumph shall wave,
O’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.
Francis Scott Key
It prompted me to search out several books for children that inform young readers of the origination of this ubiquitous song, sung since childhood school days, and here they are:
“The Star Spangled Banner” by Peter Spier
The words you know by heart, but Mr. Spier’s unique art brings the words alive to any young reader curious about the history of the anthem, and any parent or grandparent or adult, eager to share its story.
“Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner” by Monica Kulling
Ms. Kulling’s Reading Rainbow Book from the Step into Reading Series is a deeply rich informational treatment of the events surrounding the writing of the anthem with interesting details of the life of its author.
Whether read with some help from adults, or read chapter by chapter to young readers, it’s a very worthwhile journey that allows kids to see the real people behind things that touch their daily lives.
They will find that Mr. Key was a father of 11 children, a lawyer, and someone that jotted down poems off the cuff.
And his viewing of the shelling of Ft. McHenry, in Baltimore Harbor, precipitated the visualization of that event in his writing of the iconic poem, later set to a British tune.
And, here we are, more than 200 years later, still singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Please let your young reader know the background of how it came to be, and why we still continue to sing it with pride.
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