Of Thee I Sing : A Letter To My Daughters

by Barack Obama

Other authorsLoren Long (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2010


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New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.


Biography & Autobiography. History. Juvenile Nonfiction. Sociology. Picture Book Nonfiction. HTML:Barack Obama delivers a tender, beautiful letter to his daughters in this powerful picture book illustrated by award-winner Loren Long that's made to be treasured! In this poignant letter to his daughters, 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, Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America�??s children.   Breathtaking, evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans and the innocence and promise of childhood.   This beautiful book celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation�??s founders to generations to come. It is about the potential within each of us to pur… (more)

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Media reviews

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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Copperskye
A charming picture book. The illustrations by Loran Long are beautiful, the text is simple. The Americans highlighted are an interesting, eclectic cross-section of historical figures, who in their own way and with varied talents, had an influence on, and helped to shape, America. They include,
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among others, Georgia O'Keefe, Albert Einstein, Billie Holiday, Sitting Bull, Helen Keller, Cesar Chavez and George Washington.

No matter your political leaning, I can't imagine anyone not finding it to be delightful.
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LibraryThing member Lisa2013
recommended by: Kathryn

recommended for: children & parents; for those interested in many aspects of history & historical figures

Full disclosure: I admire Barack Obama and am particularly smitten with him as a father, with his family. I think that he has a lovely family and that he and Michelle are
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marvelous parents, and the girls seem like truly nice people.

The concept of this book is that Obama is writing a letter to his daughters about how he feels love for them and his hopes for them, all the time educating them about people who have made a difference.

It might be thanks to the illustrator, Loren Long, that this book is ingenious in its execution.

For every attribute Obama mentions (creative, smart, brave, a healer, have your own song, being strong, honoring others’ sacrifices, being kind, not giving up, an explorer, are inspiring, are part of a family, are proud to be an American) he tells a little about various people in history who exemplify those things. The people he introduces are Georgia O’Keeffe, Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, Sitting Bull, Billie Holiday, Helen Keller, Maya Lin, Jane Addams, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Neil Armstrong, Cesar Chavez, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. (At the back of the book, there is a short biographical paragraph on each of them.)

But what’s brilliant about this, aside from introducing some inspiring people, is that the illustrations show Obama’s two girls and then each of the famous people as children. As each person’s contributions are discussed, they appear with Obama’s daughters on the next page. So, the two girls are joined by more and more people, until there are many children going forward together, as each one joins the group. I found it inspiring, especially since the focus is on the diversity of people that make the country great. It’s children who are shown here, even if the accomplishments being talked about weren’t brought to fruition until their adulthoods.

Some pictures of Bo, their dog, make it into the book, and I can never resist a cute dog.

I am far from a raving patriot, and I often don’t like “patriotic” books, but I am fond of this book. I appreciate that the people featured made contributions in all sorts of different ways, and I admire most of them, so that probably influenced how I feel about this book. For some readers this book will be an unappealing celebrity book or too didactic or political, but I enjoyed it.

The illustrations are great, showing the featured people as kids and having them come from all sort of backgrounds making all sorts of contributions will help make history come alive even for kids not normally interested in the subject. There is something here to interest almost everyone.
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LibraryThing member RapidCityPubLib
This book is a beautiful expression of love from a parent to his children. It provides a glimpse into the diversity of the American people. The accomplishments are motivating and inspirational. Lovely for young and old and therefore a joy to read out loud. The illustrations are captivating.
LibraryThing member rmckeown
Wonderful illustrations and a perfect book for young, impressionable children.

-Jim, 12/25/10
LibraryThing member Booklady123
Goodreads description:

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
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of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

Breathtaking, evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans and the innocence and promise of childhood.

This beautiful book celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation’s founders to generations to come. It is about the potential within each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths. It is a treasure to cherish with your family forever.

There was a great deal of hoopla over this book on the library listservs I follow. Of course that made it almost impossible to read this book objectively. What was frustrating about the discussions on the listservs was that they focused not on the quality of the book, but on 1.) as president what was he doing writing a book when he should have been running the country and 2.) did he really write the book – of course he had to have had a ghostwriter.

President Obama may be the first sitting president to release a book, but I could not find anywhere that said the book was written after he took office. Personally, I don’t really care when he wrote it. That’s a political issue and this is a children’s book. Books for children should not be political.

As for whether or not he wrote the book or just added his name – I honestly don’t know. I couldn’t find any authoritative sources one way or the other. It’s not uncommon for well-known people to lend their name to a work in order to increase sales or what not. Many politicians have certainly done so.

All of the political grumblings aside, the question remains, is this a good book?

I think so. It’s a feel good story for young children. It provides a very positive message, something we all want for our children. The illustrations are beautiful.

My favorite line is

“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?”

My political views do not follow President Obama’s, but I didn’t find this book to be a political statement. Rather, it is a positive book to share with children (not a bad one for adults either), but be sure when you pick up this book you put down your political opinions and read the book for what it is – a feel good book for children.

Recommended for Kindergarten to 3rd grade.

Mrs. Archer’s rating: 5 of 5.
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LibraryThing member GaylDasherSmith
Obama writes to his daughters about what he hopes they will grow to be by showing them famous Americans who should serve as examples to the rest of us. Charming illustrations make this unique.
LibraryThing member bbruskland
This book gives history of several American people from different cultures. This illustrations are beautifully done to being color and life to the story.
LibraryThing member Jpeshke
"Of Thee I Sing" is a beautiful book. Obama writes to his daughters about famous Americans that have shown qualities to aspire to. The pictures are bold, bright and will catch the eye of any reader. It great book for a read aloud to a small or large group of students.
LibraryThing member KatelynLum
Of Thee I Sing is an inspirational letter written by our President, Barack Obama, to his two daughters. It tells the story of 13 powerful Americans inspiring his children that they too can sudceed and do whatever it is that they want in life.
LibraryThing member RavRita
Nice little book. A quick way to stick ideas in a kids head about people in America's history. I have been buying a lot of books for children recently and this is a keeper.
LibraryThing member Dportnoy
This book is filled with amazing illustrations and truly will inspire young children. Written as a letter from Barack Obama to his two daughters, he tells his young ones that they are brave, kind, strong...He writes about thirteen American's that changed the lives of others in unique ways. I
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strongly recommend this book to any young readers!
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LibraryThing member sarah-prebble
Of Thee I Sing is a wonderful book written by our president. It is an inspirational story of thirteen very extraordinary people in American history. It also shows how important it is to be a proud American.

I had the great pleasure of sharing this great story with a Girl Scout Troop on President’s
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Day. The girls and I both gained a lot of from the stories. Although most of the people in the story I knew, I was introduced to important people in American History that I otherwise would not of had I not read this story.

A great classroom extension would be to have your students pick someone from the book, dress up like them, and give an oral report over the person. Also, the book would be a great for teaching about America being a Melting Pot.
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LibraryThing member hokonow
This beautiful book is an illustrated letter that president Barack Obama wrote to his two daughters, Sasha and Malia. Throughout the book, Obama recounts the courageous and historical people that have helped shape the nation that America is today, showing his daughters the importance of following
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their dreams and teaching them to be proud of who they are and where they come from. Of Thee I Sing is a precious book that is a not only a perfect tool for teaching young children about the history of the United States, but it is also a story that shows children that they are an important part of this country, and they have the power to change their world for the better.
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LibraryThing member mgcook1
In this touching book to his daughter, President Barack Obama describes the works of many noble people who have shaped our country. He explains the pride that we should all feel to be Americans and the effort that many people have put into our country to make it what it is today.
LibraryThing member SarahLinfield
This book that president Obama wrote for his daughters talks about the thirteen influential people that made a huge impact on America's history/culture. This book may inspire students to make a difference by reading about these very important people. Students learn about what these people did and
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what made them stand out. Book talks about hope, love, and great leaders.
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LibraryThing member Mia_Catapang
Of Thee I Sing is a nice picture book with wonderful illustrations. It also conveys an important message to America and it's people.How I wish there would be a Philippine version of this book. ^.^
LibraryThing member katietwa08
This is a very informational text written by a very respectable figure in history. Our president, Obama wrote this letter to his daughters and to the rest of the children of America as an informative piece about diversity and community within our nation. As the pages take us between eras marked by
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some of the influential figures in the history of America, children can follow with their eyes across the detailed images painted onto each page. A great read aloud for families and classrooms across the nation!
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LibraryThing member LainaBourgeois
This is a book that the President Barrack Obama wrote to his daughters telling them how he can see thirteen heroes in American history in them today. These people include Martin Luther King, Jr., Helen Keller, and Jackie Robinson.
LibraryThing member IandSsmom
I loved it! It was sweet and patriotic! I think it is just a wonderful children's book! I think it should be read to kids by their parents!
LibraryThing member laurenwhite92
I like the art in this book and how it mixes history and present time.
LibraryThing member rgraf1
"Of Thee I Sing" is written by the president of the United States. He writes about thirteen people who made a difference and made a change in regard of culture and history. Some people he is writing about are for example: Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln. This book can be very
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informative for children, but what I think could be a bit boring for children is that there is not really a story in the book, it's just a list of some influential persons. But all in all it's interesting and well illustrated.
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LibraryThing member penelopemarzec
This was a warm, loving look at some of America's heroes and heroines. Thoroughly engaging!
LibraryThing member DJRyskie
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
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world as it stands today. This book is a very informative read and it also shows Obama's pride in his daughters.
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LibraryThing member dukefan86
Nice book that incorporates various attributes with famous people in (mostly) American history. I enjoyed the illustrations, too.
LibraryThing member alyson
Very nice! Good illustrations and a nice introduction to some famous Americans. A touching tribute to the hopes parents have for their children and to contributions a variety of people have made to our culture.


Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Picture Book — 2014)
Buckeye Children's & Teen Book Award (Nominee — Grades K-2 — 2012)
Kids' Book Choice Awards (Finalist — 2011)
Flicker Tale Award (Nominee — 2012)
Volunteer State Book Award (Nominee — Primary — 2013)
Iowa Goldfinch Award (Nominee — 2013)
Children's Favorites Awards (Finalist — 2011)


Original publication date


Physical description

31 cm




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