The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh

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The longer picture book The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh (illustrated by Marie Nonnast; Charles Scribner, 1956) gives a general overview of the patriotic beginnings of American independence. Although it is somewhat a nonfiction book, many dates and details are merged together, making it a muddy collection of facts and patriotic sentiments. But as a narrative story of American patriotism for children, it successfully represents the patriotic season with generalities that many will find satisfactory.

The 4th of July Story gives a general overview of basic concepts: the coming together of colonial leaders, Jefferson’s writing of the Declaration, distribution and explanation of the Declaration to colonists, rejoicing by many along with some displeasure by others, the outbreak of hostilities with Great Britain, and the role of George Washington in the rebellion against Great Britain. Even Andrew Jackson is introduced as a figure that brought the news to the illiterate people in rural parts of America, and the ringing of the Liberty Bell echoes throughout the book as a common theme.

The dates are mostly omitted, and as the author’s note at the beginning indicates, she purposely focuses on the generalization of July 4th as the day of freedom. As a history book, then, this overview text does not work for research or historical accuracy. Just as many books from before the 2000s, no end matter clarifies fact from fiction or provides a accurate timeline of events.

As a picture book, it may not work for many readers or as a read aloud for young children. Many pages have full pages of text, making it an overwhelming book for a read aloud and definitely not appropriate for one sitting! From this review, you may recognize that I was not a fan of the book as a historical text. For many parents or teachers, however, such a book will be a welcome introduction to the Independence Day holiday. The lengthy text is separated into labeled chapters that may be approached step-by-step during the holiday season. It is certainly patriotic and facts such as these can provide general exposure to the concepts of America’s beginning as an independent land with freedom “for all.”

Reviewed on June 26, 2024

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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