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The Star-Spangled Banner
Author: Francis Scott Key
Illustrator: Peter Spier
Published September 19, 1973 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: Due to careful research, Spier’s artwork depicts “the dawn’s early light” and “the rocket’s red glare” with remarkable authenticity and detail in this celebratory book. Among the highlights: a brief history of the anthem, a reproduction of Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript, music for guitar and piano chords and many photographs.

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Peter Spier’s illustrations bring our national anthem to life. Spier carefully researched all lines of them poem as well as other facts about the War of 1812 when the anthem was written and used all of this knowledge to help show the meaning behind Key’s words. In the afterword, Spier shares much of the research to help tie it all together. 

In the past, as a school, we actually had students do something very similar. They each received a line from the first verse, and they had to research what it meant and then draw an illustration to share with their classmates the meaning. These were then put together as a book, so that the entire national anthem could be read with illustrations showing the meaning. Students loved the activity, and I really think it helped make history mean more to them than just dates.

Discussion Questions: What is Key trying to say in The Star-Spangled Banner?; What caused Key to write this poem?; Had you ever heard the second or third verse before? What did you think of it?; For some of the lines, Spier chose to draw a modern setting–why do you think he chose these specific places? 

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Happy Fourth of July!

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2 Responses to The Star-Spangled Banner illustrated by Peter Spier

  1. Linda Baie says:

    I love your idea of having students take each line in order to create their own book, Kellee. Spier’s books are good, love People, too. Happy Independence Day!

    • Kellee says:

      Thank you! That is one of my favorite poetry activities because it helps the students understand the poem better. I’ve done it with Annabel Lee as well.
      Happy Independence Day to you!

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