Monday, July 1, 2013

Make the Fourth of July a Learning Opportunity

This Independence Day,
Help Kids Connect to the Past
Share Myths About the Burning of Washington
with Young People and Invite Them
to Dig into the Truth

"Struggling to Stand" Copyright (c) 2008 by Wendell Minor
In The Washington Post, Steve Vogel writes in "Five Myths About the Burning of Washington, "On Independence Day 199 years ago, there was little cause for revelry in Washington. With America on the brink of defeat in the War of 1812, some feared it would be the nation’s last July Fourth celebration. The British forces threatening to dismember the union would bring their own fireworks — setting the White House, the Capitol and other public buildings ablaze later that summer. The burning of Washington has become the subject of much myth." 

Vogel shares and debunks five myths here.  

An ideal resource for helping kids dig into the past is the NCBLA's interdisciplinary art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Overflowing with engaging stories, informative essays, humorous poetry, and extraordinary art created by over 100 of America's most talented authors and illustrators, Our White House can help kids understand the past and make connections with our present and future

Part II of Our White House features artwork, essays, and stories to draw kids into the world of 1812 and features:
  • Ralph Ketcham's enlightening essay regarding the days and events preceding the War of 1812 in "The White House Prepares for War: 1812"
  • Susan Cooper's poignant, imagined letter written by a British soldier to his parents titled "The Burning of the White House"
  • Don Brown's story of Dolley Madison in "Dolley Madison Rescues George Washington"
  • An excerpt from the 1865 memoir of Paul Jennings, a former slave who worked in the Madison White House, titled "The First White House Memoir: 1865"
Be sure to check our coordinating Education Resource Guide, which includes activities and discussion questions  for Part II of Our White House here.

The Our White House anthology is supported by a companion educational website,, which includes additional content, such as "Primary Sources: Dolley Madison's Letter to Her Sister About the Burning of the White House."
Our White House is available in both hardcover and paperback from Candlewick Press.

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