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Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama

Of Thee I Sing (2010)

by Barack Obama

Other authors: Loren Long (Illustrator)

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4273724,721 (4.03)7



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This book is President Barack Obama's open letters to his daughters, telling them about various characteristics he sees in them that he admires. He then links each characteristic to a famous American who also displayed the same characteristic.

I wanted to like this book, perhaps just because I loved Loren Long's illustrations so much. As usual, he does not disappoint, and his illustrations are breathtakingly lovely. There is, of course, the controversial illustration of Sitting Bull, the only Native American Indian featured, being depicted as literally part of the land rather than a person in his own right like everyone else in the book. The controversy notwithstanding, it is a well-executed - if poorly chosen - design.

Yet overall the book itself felt kind of flat. I like the idea of linking positive attributes with historical figures, which can give children a sense of purpose and/or motivation if they feel lagging or wonder why they even bother being a good person. But there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to anything here. The historical figures mentioned range from Revolutionary War figures to near contemporary ones, although they are by no means listed in a chronological fashion. and their contributions are anywhere from artistic to political to scientific and everywhere in between. It's not that I object to the people included per se, it's more that it just felt like the selection and placement was completely random.

Perhaps as is often the case when someone pens something for a specific audience and then decides to also try to sell it for a broader one, it seemed like this book is something Obama's daughters should embrace as a lovely gift from their father. But meanwhile, the rest of us are just eavesdropping on a conversation we aren't really a part of after all. That being said though, it does appear that many people other than me did enjoy this book greatly and get a lot out of it, so as always, this review is just my opinion and that opinion is not often the majority one. I could see how this book could be useful as a jumping off point to talk about one or more of the historical figures mentioned, but this isn't the learning tool I would pick out first myself. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Mar 2, 2014 |
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama is an informational book that teaches about diversity and American History. Each page begins with a question such as: "Have I told you that you are creative?" Then introduces a person from our American History that was creative: "A woman names Georgia O'Keeffe moved to the desert and painted petals, bone, nark. She helped us see big beauty in what is small:the hardness of stone and the softness of feather." Some others included in this book are: Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, Billie Holiday, Helen Keller and many others.

This would be a good book to introduce to students when beginning a unit on biographies. Each student could choose a person from this book or elsewhere to research and learn more about. This book also addressed diversity issues that could be addressed within the classroom. ( )
  mstanley33 | Dec 6, 2013 |
I loved this book! I love the way it introduces children to a wide variety of Americans throughout history. It brings up people of all races, from all parts of America. It would be a great book to introduce biographies to kids. ( )
  amyolivia | Oct 25, 2013 |
“Of Thee I Sing” is such a heartwarming book from a father to his daughters. Barack Obama wrote this book to his two daughters. In this book Obama tells his daughters that they are so many amazing things and he tells them of the great people of America’s past. This book is full of vibrant pictures that show these monumental people; with the pictures Obama tells his daughters of the great things that they did. Obama wrote this book to not only tell his daughters about America’s history, but to also tell them that a little bit of every person he talked about lives inside his daughters and in everybody. This is great for students to read because they would not only get a short history lesson, but they could also get a sense of the all of the possibilities that life has for them.
  brandib90 | Oct 24, 2013 |
This letter to Barack Obama's daughters is a book that illustrates why Obama is proud of his daughters and reminds them to grow up to be strong women. This book does not only mention Obama's daughters but it is interesting because it gives information on people who made important changes in the world as it stands today. This book is a very informative read and it also shows Obama's pride in his daughters.
  DJRyskie | Oct 22, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Obama appears to have turned away all help with the writing of his children's story: The book reads like it really is a letter from a very busy dad-president - no rhythm, no rhyme, no rat-a-tat-tat. What's a children's tale without a fancy step or two? "Of Thee I Sing" sadly has no melody.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barack Obamaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Long, LorenIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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To Michelle-- whose fierce love and daily good sense have norished such wonderful daughters. --B.O.
To my sons, Griff and Graham. --L.L.
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Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 037583527X, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America's children"--Book jacket.… (more)

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