Cover Image: What Does It Mean to Be American?

What Does It Mean to Be American?

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Member Reviews

This is a wonderful way to introduce your child to the true meaning of being an American. From Believing that all people are equal and have the opportunity to be happy, being American means honoring those who protect and serve us to being American means leading by example to take action when people need help. This book is very well illustrated and appealing to any child. I really like the end of the book and the talking points to have with your child and examples they give for each reason to be an American. It is important for children to not only know their heritage but the importance of respecting the country they live in no matter where it is. I recommend this book for children 5+.
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'What Does It Mean to Be American?' by Rana DiOrio and Elad Yoran with illustrations by Nina Mata is a picture book for the young about what citizenship means to those living in the US.

Being American has plenty of stereotypes, but it's not about liking apple pie or fast food.  believing others are equal and free to pursue their dreams.  Freedom of choice, honoring those who serve us and helping others.  

Going in to this book, I had preconceived notions of what it would be about, but I couldn't have been more pleased to be wrong.  This is not about stereotypes or espousing a certain political viewpoint.  

The book ends with things from American history that back up each page for further discussion.  There is the preamble to the Constitution, a list of hard-working Americans like Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Robinson and Walt Disney (among others).

It's a simple enough book to read, but has some very good intent and content.   I can see this being an intentional gift for young citizens and would-be citizens.  The illustrations are bright and underscore the book.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Little Pickle Press, SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.
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I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
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After reading this book, it reaffirmed my belief in what an American is.  It’s all too easy these days to not remember what an American is.  This is a delightful  book to read with its excellent illustrations and writing.  Even though we have differences such as politics, religion, etc., we are still Americans.  This book besides being great for children to read would be a great read for adults.  It could start some conversations about what it means to be an American.  Don’t miss out on reading this book!
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I'm a licensed school counselor and am always trying to find educational reads for kiddos. Keeping a keen eye and practicing awareness around inclusivity and diversity can be a difficult task. With that said, I loved this little book! The images clearly illustrate diversity, inclusivity, and equality. I agree with the author that it is never too early to begin talking about these topics and at the early ages when our brains are downloading and interpreting our surroundings the most - those early years incredibly valuable.

I also very much appreciate how each topic was broken down with facts and explanations for adults to understand at the end of the book. A helpful tool for all! Adults need help growing and shaping their minds just as much as kiddos!
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Thank you for the opportunity to review this book. The illustrations are fantastic, and the content is very aspirational. I think it would be good for teachers to read with students when learning about US History in Elementary School. It is definitely important during the times we are going through right now to remember what America is supposed to be about.
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Lovely book that will make for a nice read aloud. Bright, engaging illustrations and a powerful message. Educators will appreciate the included lesson materials.
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Cute book and I especially love the inclusion of honoring those who serve our great country to help make America what it is because without them these freedoms would not exist for everyone. Simple text and simple meaning...great for young children. There are even parts of the U.S. Constitution in the back of the book. Recommended.
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I really like the message this book sends to younger readers. It would be excellent in classrooms and at home. It seems like a book that everyone should have for their family. I love the series and this one did not disappoint.
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What Does It Mean to Be American? is a super cute drama/conflict-free look at what it means to be an American, and basically, it all boils down to: being a decent person who cares about your family and others and always trying your best. I really enjoyed this and think it's a perfect book for children to get a grasp on being proud of who they are and helping others. 

The illustrations are very friendly and I was happy to see that they included a lot of diversity so that all sorts of children can see themselves represented, which is so important. I think everyone regardless of who they are will appreciate the values that this book is trying to instill in our young ones. Highly recommended!
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This book presents a super idealistic/aspirational idea of "what it means to be American." I can't decide how I feel about it. "Being American means ...believing that all people are equal" is straight-up inaccurate if we're looking at either America's history OR America's present, but it's a wonderful (and necessary) thing to strive for in our future. As far as patriotic picture books go, I'm quite glad I'll have this one to give to patrons.
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What Does It Mean to Be American? is a wonderfully written children's book about patriotism and following our dreams. Our country currently seems so divided politically and culturally, and there is so much negatively in America now, but this book focuses on a more idealistic version of America. The author shares all the positive things that being an American means and how we can follow our dreams and make our country even better. This is a book perfect for older elementary school children, but there are a few bigger words that parents or teachers may have to explain the meanings of, depending on the age of the children (such as abundant, frontiers, accomplished, obligation). My five year old was interested in the book, but my 3 year old lost interest quickly. Discussion questions at the end of the book are perfect for parents and teachers to use for thought-provoking conversations. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.
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I love this book for its idealism. We are in difficult times but the America in this book highlights the best of what we could be, even if it's not exactly accurate for the moment we are in.
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Full disclosure: I'm Canadian. I'm not unfamiliar with the USA, though. I lived there for a couple of years as a child, and I've crossed the border many times to shop or to visit family. We live close enough to the border that we get American TV stations, in all their pharmaceutical-fuelled glory. (Seriously... do Americans realize how many drugs are being pushed on them when they're trying to watch The Bachelor? "Be sure to talk to your doctor and tell them if you experience unexplained bleeding from your fingernails, swelling in the tongue, or death, as these conditions may become permanent." But I digress...) What I mean to say is that I'm pretty familiar with the USA, the concepts it was founded upon, and its need to constantly declare itself the bestest, most free-est country in the world.

To its credit, this book is nonpartisan. Unfortunately, that's about all it has going for it. The main narrative is laughably simple to the point of being complete nonsense, and it doesn't account for any of today's current problems. What Does It Mean to Be American? reads more like fiction than non-fiction. It's either completely deluded, or it's simply the USA the way some people would like it to be. If the sentiments put forth in this book were indeed true, then it would be a great country. But wishing the place you lived were a utopia does not make it so. You can't just say something is one way and--poof!--it's magically true. Let's take a look at a few of the premises this book puts forward:

    Being American means ... believing that all people are equal, and should have the opportunity to be happy.

Yes, that's nice in theory, but all you have to do is watch the evening news to see that's not the case.

    ... following our dreams, and working hard to achieve them.

Okay, fine. But that doesn't just apply to Americans.

    ... having the freedom to choose whom we love, what we believe, what we do, and where we live, and to change our minds if we want.

Oh, boy. Can you see the issue here? This book holds America up as this great bastion of liberty, freedom, and tolerance, when in reality it's still struggling with accepting people who are different. It was late to the same-sex marriage party, and you've got Trump trying to ban transgender people from serving in the military. How is that freedom?

    ... knowing all Americans follow the same rules.

In theory? Yes... at the federal level. (The book contradicts itself here because the end matter talks about how states can have different laws. So I don't know why this point was even included.)

    ... honoring those who protect and serve us.

What... you mean the way Vietnam vets were treated when they got home? That's "honoring" them? What about all the homeless vets of today, suffering with PTSD and other injuries? They need more than hugs and salutes (which is what this book shows).

    ... cherishing our abundant natural resources...

Okay, I just can't do this anymore. You've got a president who wants to open up National Parks to be exploited for their resources, huge dead zones in American waters from agricultural runoff, and a large contingent of people who think that climate change isn't real (and therefore nothing needs to be done), and the book is talking about "cherishing" the land?

The book goes on to talk about being grateful, leading by example when people need help, and welcoming people from other countries, all of which would be laughable if they didn't make one want to cry. Right now, this book reads as little more than nationalistic propaganda, a tool to convince American children of their superiority in the world, ignoring the reality that's going on every single day.

This is also one of those books that feels like a school exercise. There are six pages of small text at the back with more "facts", although so much of it seems outdated and kind of irrelevant. The book actually tries to make the case that America cherishes its natural resources by quoting a song from 1895. It does the same sort of thing when it talks about honouring its veterans, by invoking the words of Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. (Don't even get me started on how they threw in the Second Amendment without context.)

I was a little put off by the "greatest nation in the world" stuff, even though I was expecting it. At first, I thought this book might not be such a bad thing. At least it's something to aspire to. But when I thought about it some more, I realized how very problematic it is. By showing things the way they should be, the book completely ignores the way things actually are... which could lead children to believe that there isn't anything that needs to be fixed. The little mixed-race girl in the book is going to have a tougher time than the book leads us to believe. We don't need to watch more than a few minutes of the news to know that.
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Wow, this book is beautiful! The sentiments about what it means to be an American are simple to understand, inclusive, and so heartwarming. Diverse characters are beautifully represented in the illustrations and the simplicity of the text is easily understandable for little ones but still relevant and enjoyable for older kids. I think this would be a great read-aloud! I especially loved the Author's note and appendix with extra information about each point made and people featured in the book which is so great as a resource for follow up discussions.  

I absolutely loved this and I can't wait to read this to my students in the library!
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I loved this book. I loved how it was worded. Simple and easy for a child to understand. Nice illustrations
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"Does it mean liking fast food?"  "No".   :  )

I was a little hesitant to read this lovely Children's Book in the current political climate but I needn't have been. Touting values like equality, opportunity, following dreams and working hard, there is nothing here not to love! The authors celebrate that Americans have the freedom to choose "who we love, what we believe, what we do and where we live", all while encouraging us to respect and honor those who sacrificed and will sacrifice for us to have those rights.

Even though I have a digital ARC, I am buying this the minute it comes out so I can put it on my coffee table. The illustrations are gorgeous and the message important.

Thank you to Rana DiOrio and Elad Yoran, SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, and NetGalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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I wanted to love this book. The illustrations are charming the sentiment of the book is sweet.  This book shares the idea of the “American Dream” with children- allowing them to believe that being happy is an opportunity and working hard is what one does to reach their goals. There are moments in the book I really appreciate, but I just didn’t love it. I would read this to my students and also include some other books about the history of our country and the lives of marginalized Americans.
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We love the “What Does it Mean to be Kind?” Book at our house, so I knew I had to request the “What Does it Mean to be American?” book, too! This is a perfect book to introduce kids to the idea of equality, trying your best, supporting others, and diversity. It brings the book to a level that kids can understand, but at the end, explains things in more detail. For example, it talks about famous people who worked hard (Walt Disney, Susan B. Anthony, etc.) and gives examples of what they do. 

It’s an inspiring book, good for kids starting at age 4-5, up through third grade or so. It’s an easy read, and I liked that it gave examples at the end. Honestly, I think there are some adults who should read this book, too! 

4/5 stars from me!
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This book fills a void in Americana books for younger children. It expounds on the character traits and values that have defined the United States since its founding in kid-friendly text and illustrations. And as a bonus, includes excerpts from historical documents and examples of Americans who have exemplified those traits in the back of the book.


Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for providing a digital arc.
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