Former President Barack Obama has touched hearts by sharing his inspiring book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, with the children of the world. Together, with the breathtaking illustrations of Loren Long, Obama presents 13 historical figures that have each had a profound impact on America. In a very different book, Calling the Doves/ El Canto de las Palomas, award-winning Mexican American poet Juan Felipe Herrera beautifully illustrates his childhood as the son of Mexican migrant farmworkers. Herrera vividly describes his family’s journey through the mountains and valleys of California from one small farm town to another. These two picture books offer powerful opportunities to teach students about culture as well as individual development and identity.
In this article, we describe how these two books anchor a week-long unit on cultural heritage and the contributions of famous Americans.