The Star Spangled Banner by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire was originally published in 1942 in an effort to boost patriotism during World War II. All four verses of our national anthem are beautifully illustrated with the D'Aulaires' trademark four-color lithographs. The lyrics are quite naturally illustrated with scenes of the battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, when Francis Scott Key actually penned his famous verses. But there are also many other inspiring reminders of our nation's heritage: the Pilgrims arriving in 1620, George Washington leading the country to its independence, pioneers moving westward in covered wagons, and soldiers fighting on a Civil War battlefield. Additionally, there are ample scenes of modern (1940s) American life. There is a lot to talk about in each scene, so we just read and talked very slowly through the book. My older children (11 and 13) actually got more out of this picture book than the younger ones because they understood its context. By the time we reached the last page and saw the lyrics with music, we were all inspired to sing the anthem together. I got very choked up during the little-known last stanza:
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
It made me proud of our country and thankful to God for the freedoms we have enjoyed as a nation. Sixty years later, the D'Aulaires have accomplished their purpose by boosting my family's patriotism. Highly recommended!
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven-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!