Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Liberty!

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We tend to remember exactly what we were doing when monumental events occur. Liberty! pinpoints the actions of a young boy on the day he witnessed and participated in the unveiling of one of our national symbols, the Statue of Liberty.

Allan Drummond’s book uses facts from the ceremony as a framework for a personal account of the event. Drummond begins the book with a note to readers that explains historical information of the day that the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York. Using these facts, Drummond creates a fictional story of a young boy whose was responsible for providing the signal for the revelation.

While highlighting the building of the Statue of Liberty, Drummond also emphasizes the relations between the United States and France and the presence of the woman’s suffrage movement.

We passed plenty of boats–all sizes–some flying the American flag and some flying the flag of France. And all around us people cheered and yelled, ‘Liberty!’ and ‘Freedom!’. A big steamship sailed into the harbor from the ocean loaded with immigrants just arriving from Europe, coming to America to find liberty and freedom for a better life. And near the island there was a ferryboat full of women shouting, ‘How long must we wait for liberty?’

Once the young boy accidentally uses the signal which unveils the statue, Drummond concludes by using this national symbol to instruct students of the universal rights of individuals to freedom and equality to believe and say what each individual wishes.

Curriculum Connections
Liberty!
can be used for civics instruction by teaching topics of national symbols and by explaining the responsibilities of a good citizen. This book can introduce students to national symbols which represent the beliefs and practices of the United States. Also, Drummond’s focus in the end of the story helps to explain the responsibilities of a good citizen (In Virginia this corresponds with SOLs 1.10 and 2.10).

Additional Resources

  • This site provides many lessons on civics topics including the Statue of Liberty. The lesson includes background information and activities for students such as a crossword puzzle, quiz, grammar worksheet, bingo, and maps that all relate to the Statue of Liberty.

  • Mrs. Crites’ Fourth grade website includes links for activities about the Statue of Liberty in addition to ideas for teaching other American symbols and civics topics.

Book: Liberty!
Author:Allan Drummond
Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: 2002
Pages:40 pages
Grades: 1-2
ISBN: 0374343853