Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Flags over America

Flags over America

Cheryl Harness
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Albert Whitman, 2014   ISBN: 978-0807524701

Some people believe that a flag is just a piece of fabric covered with a design of some sort, but many others believe that a flag represents so much more because a flag, whichever country it comes from, “is a story.”

   Long ago the ancient peoples found ways to indicate to others who they were, where they came from, who their leaders were, and what they believed in. They did this by using symbols or emblems that were placed on shields and on the ends of poles. Images were also stitched to ship’s sails, and on pieces of fabric that they tied to ropes or poles. The pieces of fabric, the earliest flags, helped people to know who was friend or foe, and they helped soldiers and sailors to follow their leaders into battle.

   The flags of various nations began to appear in lands all over the world, and in lands that the French, Spanish, English and Dutch claimed in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In North America Spain’s flag was raised over land in the south in the 1500’s, and then in the 1700’s France’s flag “fluttered over forts” along the Mississippi River. The British Union Jack was commonly seen in the thirteen colonies on the Atlantic coast until 1763, when King George III’s American subjects began to complain about taxes that they were being forced to pay by their distant ruler in England.

   The rumblings of discontent grew louder and louder, until war broke out between the colonies and Great Britain. When the Americans went to war, they carried a variety of flags with them. Some of the flags represented groups of fighters, while others were created by people from regions, towns and cities to represent their determination to fight for freedom.

   Eventually, months after the Declaration of Independence was written, the representatives of the new country decided that it needed a new flag. There are several stories about who designed the flag, and who made the first one, but we cannot be sure which of these stories is true. However, we do know that the U.S flag, with its stripes and stars, was finally raised in New York City in 1783 soon after the last British ships sailed for home.

   This wonderful picture book will help children to see that flag is a lot more than a piece of fabric. Many of the world’s flags have stories, and many represent the struggles of peoples who had to fight for their freedom and independence.