July 4th with Ellis the Elephant

My kids are getting four new books for this year’s Independence Day!

I have been collecting these books for a few years as they went on sale on Smile.Amazon – some of them were only $3 or $4!  Anyway, now that I have four of them to give to my kids, they will each receive one this year. Anyway, these books are perfect for the 4th of July, or any patriotic celebration, plus I think they will come in handy later on during homeschooling.

About the Series

The Ellis the Elephant series is written with a target audience of children between 4 and 8 years old.  Each book is authored by Callista Gingrich, a Catholic, and illustrated by Susan Arciero.  Each two-page spread has two to four rhyming couplets of text.  Each book contains more than a dozen of these illustrations with rhyming couplets.  The main character, Ellis, appears in every scene in each book, so that each story from American history includes him.  The illustrations have that watery look to them, common in many children’s books, and they each come with a matching dust jacket for protection.  Now, on to each book!

Sweet Land of Liberty

This book begins with Ellis the Elephant in a public library, reading books about American history.  The story is then about which books he has read, and their stories: the first Thanksgiving (which mentions God), the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence, George Washington crossing the Delaware River, Honest Abe, Western migration, the Wright brothers, waves of immigrants coming to Ellis Island, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the race to the moon, and the Red Cross.  It ends with an illustration of Fourth of July fireworks.  This is a nice little primer on a wide variety of topics for American history.


Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride

In the second book in the series, Ellis the Elephant sets out to discover why there were only thirteen stars on the original American flag.  He then discovers short glimpses of the founding of each of the thirteen colonies, from the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, to a look at Benjamin Franklin, who came from Pennsylvania.  This book is certainly going to get some use in our household when we learn about the colonies!


Yankee Doodle Dandy

The third Ellis the Elephant book is about the American War for Independence.  It begins with Philadelphia, then introduces Redcoats, the Boston Tea Party, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, the Patriots’ first battle, Abigail Adams, the Declaration of Independence, Betsy Ross, Valley Forge, Molly Pitcher, Yorktown, the peace treaty in Paris, the first president, and, finally, a celebration of the country’s founding.  As a trained historian, I have to say, I really like how this book is presented for young audiences.  Also, the role of women is certainly highlighted throughout this book, so it does not read as a “founding fathers” type of book that you probably grew up with.  Women are highlighted primarily as wives and mothers, along with a few other roles.


From Sea to Shining Sea

The fourth book in the series deals with American Westward expansion.  It begins with the first American president, then the founding of our nation’s capital.  Other presidents are then discussed, insofar as they brought new lands into the nation.  Ellis takes a break during the narrative to celebrate The Fourth of July before learning about Lewis and Clark for several pages.  A map of North America at the beginning of the 19th century is then provided, followed by a few pages about Westward migration.  This is a really nice book to show kids how the lower 48 states came together as a country.


There are two other books in the Ellis the Elephant series, one about Christmas, and sixth one called Hail to the Chief, but I have not yet borrowed either from the library, so I cannot speak to whether or not they would work for Catholic families.  The above four books I can certainly recommend, though!  I think they are all helpful for fostering a bit of patriotism, and I am excited for my children to read them this year.

My kids, age 2-5, all loved their new books this year.  They really enjoy the Ellis character, and they have picked up a few things from the stories.

Happy Fourth of July, and may God bless our country!