Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Use "Our White House" Book and Website to Connect Kids with Current Events

Finalists in the National Mall Redesign Competition Have Been Announced!
Help Kids Delve into Our Past with Stories and Illustrations in Our White House Explaining the Earliest Plans for Designing D.C.

Diller Scofidio Renfro + Hood Design for Union Square
According to the Trust for the National Mall, "The National Mall has been loved to death. It is our country’s most visited national park, with more than 25 million annual visitors and 3,000 annual permitted events. This 700-acre park was not built to withstand this level of use and has not received adequate resources to be restored and maintained to a level befitting its role as an irreplaceable piece of our American fabric.

The Trust for the National Mall is the official non-profit of the National Park Service dedicated to restoring and improving the National Mall. Our mission is simply to make the National Mall the best park in the world.
To accomplish these goals the Trust for the National Mall is sponsoring a design competition for three key areas on the National Mall. Together these locations illustrate the cohesive approach necessary to prepare the National Mall for the types and levels of use it receives today and prepare it for greater use in the future." 

In the AP article "Finalists emerge to redesign National Mall sites,"  Donald Stastny, an architect hired to oversee the competition, says, "The face of the mall is going to change quite dramatically. ...The designs will bring the next evolution of the mall as a place that has changed significantly over the decades through war time and with the addition of new memorials."

The finalists' concepts are now on display through this coming Sunday at the Smithsonian Castle and National Museum of American History. To see the design ideas, click here.

To learn more about the design competition, visit

Take Kids Back to the Beginning!
Copyright (c) 2008 Bagram Ibatoulline
You can help kids learn more about the early days of our nation's capitol city in the NCBLA's award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

Have you ever imagined what George Washington saw as he looked over the Potomac Valley to consider his vision for the new capitol city? So has artist Bagram Ibatoulline in his breathtaking landscape featured on the opening pages of Our White House. Have you ever wondered about the experiences of the craftsmen and stone cutters who left their homes to contribute their skills to the construction of the White House?  Be sure to read Mary Brigid Barrett's imagined memoir "Testimony of Padraig Tomas O'Deorain 1801" and look at its coordinating illustration in Our White House. And be sure to learn all about how slaves helped build the White House in the essay written by our nation's current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Walter Dean Myers!

On the companion educational site OurWhiteHouse.org, you can find extensive articles, primary sources, discussion questions, activities, and resources all about the land and location of the city and Washington's ideas for the city buildings and architecture:

"The Land of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers"

"The Location of the New Nation's Capitol: North or South?"

"George Washington's Dream of a New National Capital"

"Primary Sources: The New Federal City"

And teachers and homeschoolers won't want to miss "From the Foundation Up: The Illustration by Bagram Ibatoulline," which includes not only a discussion of the painting, but also art activities and discussion questions to share with young people.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a masterpiece of poetry and prose, art and photography, created by over 100 of America's most gifted storytellers and artists as a project of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance designed to encourage young people to read more about America’s rich history and culture; to think more about America’s future; to talk more about our nation’s leadership; and to act on their own beliefs and convictions, ensuring this great democratic experiment will survive and thrive. Our White House is available in both paperback and hardcover from Candlewick Press.

Ask for Our White House at a library or bookstore near you!