Category Archives: 4th of July

A Revolutionary Birthday Celebration

Shakespeare had a milestone birthday this year, and since my big 4-0 deserved a getaway, then her entry to the teenage years definitely warranted a trip.   So we decided to take her away for a weekend- without her sisters.  Choosing a nice city about 3 hours from our house with culture, shopping and dining was sure to set the stage for a memorable 13th birthday.  And then some spontaneous internet surfing resulted in a discovery that Shakespeare’s favorite ukulele playing artist happened to be playing a concert the exact night we were planning to be away – in a city 6 hours from home, in the opposite direction from where we were planning to go.   What to do?  Easy decision.  We scrapped plan 1, pulled in some serious family favors to get babysitting for HuskyGirl and WeezyJean, and took off for a 24 hour whirlwind trip to Boston.

Not only did this trip enable us to take Shakespeare to see her very first concert, but she’s also a bit of a Revolutionary War fanatic.  In Kindergarten each child was given a turkey-shaped cut-out to “disguise” for Thanksgiving – so as not to get eaten.  Among the wall of turkeys decorated like Hannah Montana and Spiderman was one lone turkey with a cotton-ball wig and dollar-bill visage.  Her turkey was George Washington, and her paperback copy of Magic Treehouse’s Nonfiction Companion to Revolutionary War on Wednesday eventually fell apart from so many readings.

Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution, was the perfect place to spend her birthday weekend.  Beginning at Boston Common we walked the entire Freedom Trail.   We saw the final resting sites of her favorite revolutionaries- yes, she has favorites- their stomping grounds, their homes, and their places of worship.  Looking up at the balcony of the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time in Boston, I literally had chills.  After the most amazing cannoli ever, eaten in the North End, we climbed 294 excruciating steps and stood at the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.  Our journey placed us in the footsteps of American history’s greatest patriots.

I also connected with my daughter in a way that we hadn’t for a while.  As she’s growing up it is really fun to engage in shared experiences  – complete with inside jokes, which had us in stitches.  It was exciting to let her determine our plans, and although I find it hard to let go of control, I loved seeing her advocate for her interests.  Not only did everything turn out perfectly, but I did things I would never have chosen myself.

Take some time this summer, with a vacation or stay-cation, to stage a revolutionary getaway – one that indulges the passions of your younger travelers.  Allow them to overthrow the adult planning tyrants and determine their own vacation destiny.  Not only will they be empowered and enthusiastic about the trip, but chances are you’ll learn more about them than you ever imagined, and be awed in the process.

Check out these “revolutionary reads” that support a trip to Boston’s Freedom Trail.

paulreveresridePaul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – The classic poem chronicling the events of April, 1775 that officially started the American Revolution.  This is a must read if you plan to stop at the Paul Revere House and Old North Church PB  *PBP Note: During our Freedom Trail visit we determined that Longfellow just couldn’t find a rhyme for William Dawes or Samuel Prescott, and that’s why we remember Revere above the others who rode that fateful night.  We also attempted to re-write the poem to include the slighted men, much to our amusement.   We challenge you to give it a try!

youwouldntbebostonteaYou Wouldn’t Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea You’d Rather Not Drink by Peter Cook – An engaging overview of the events that lead to Boston’s rise as the center of the pre-revolutionary colonial conflict. Meet the Sons of Liberty and discover their motivation to break from England, and the risks involved. ER-2/3

johnnytremainJohnny Tremain by Esther Forbes – As a silversmith apprentice 14 year-old Johnny is injured trying to make a sugar basin for John Hancock. His despair threatens to destroy him, until a good friend pulls him into the heart of the Sons of Liberty and he finds purpose in the Revolutionary cause.  Newbery Medal Winner 1944.   MR – 5/7   *PBP Note: Just a block off the official Freedom Trail you’ll find the only remaining part of Province House, the residence of Massachusetts colony’s royal governors – the back stone steps that led to the formal gardens. These steps brought to life a vision of Johnny Tremain visiting Cilla at the Lyte’s house.  And isn’t that what great historical literature does? Bringing facts, dates, and even cold stone steps into fully-formed impressions of past human struggles.  

sarahrevereThe Secret of Sarah Revere by Ann Rinaldi – Rinaldi, a master of historical fiction for the YA set, shares the struggle for independence from the point-of-view of a young woman whose father was a leading revolutionary.  Sarah Revere reflects on the struggles leading to the American Revolution, as she faces challenges at home with her family and her emerging role as a young woman of Boston.  Check out Ann Rinaldi’s other books for riveting female perspectives 5thofmarchthroughout history, including The Fifth of March which brings to life the events surrounding the Boston Massacre. MR- 5/7


reginasilsbyRegina Silsby’s Secret War  by Thomas J. Brodeur – Looking for a little sinister supernatural with your history?  Rachel Winslow witnesses the Boston Tea Party and she narrowly escapes the Tory soldiers with a little luck, or was it more? Did the spirit of long dead Regina Silsby help her by thwarting their pursuit? Rachel uses the superstitious nature of the Redcoats against them, and the legend of Regina to help the patriot cause. MR – 5/7

Looking to stay with the Revolutionary War theme but branch out from Boston proper?  Check out the earlier post Patriotic Pigeon or find information at the National Park Service: Revolutionary War website.  Click on Revolutionary Parks  and Tour the Revolution to take a virtual tour of the Revolutionary era historic sites from Florida to Maine.


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Patriotic Pigeon

This 4th of July head out to your local parade to watch boy scout troops, little leaguers and firetrucks make their way through town.  Toss a couple hot dogs on the grill, throw together a quick pasta salad, and slice up a watermelon. Enjoy an ice cream cone and when dusk falls load up on bug spray and watch a fireworks show.  Celebrate America’s birthday by checking out different perspectives on the founding of our nation in these patriotic reads. Or plan a trip where history happened by visiting the recommended sites beneath the booklist.

storyofamericasbirthdayThe Story of America’s Birthday by Patricia A. Pingry –  From the Declaration of Independence through the Revolutionary War, the basic text in this board book introduces the youngest readers to the reason for the 4th of July. PB

storyofgeorgewashingtonThe Story of George Washington  by Patricia A. Pingry- A simple board-book story that introduces the life of George Washington to the littlest readers. PB


georgewashingtongeneralsdogGeorge Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy – When General George Washington discovers a lost dog on the battlefield he works to return him to his owner.  This little known tale of George Washington’s love of animals will delight beginning readers.  ER-1


mthrevolutionarywaronwednesdayMagic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday  by Mary Pope Osbourne – Jack and Annie find themselves in General Washington’s Army during the turning point in the Revolutionarymthrgamericanrevolution War.  But will bad weather ruin the attack?  Find out how Jack and Annie keep history on track!  Also check out the American Revolution: A Nonfiction Companion to Revolutionary War on Wednesday (Magic Tree House Research Guide Series) for more cool facts about the Revolutionary War.  ER-1/2

justintimerescueindelawareThe Rescue Begins in Delaware by Cheri Pray Earl – It’s 1776 in Delaware and George and Gracie, who’ve traveled back in time to rescue their parents, become important players in the quest to get the Declaration of Independence signed.  ER-3/4



jmoodydeclaresindependenceJudy Moody Declares Independence by Megan McDonald – On a trip to Boston Judy gets Revolutionary fever and decides to declare her own independence!  By staging her own rebellion, as only Judy can, will she gain more rights and respect?  Or will her plan backfire? ER-3/4

georgewashingtonssocksGeorge Washington’s Socks  by Elvira Woodruff – Five friends travel back in time to the Battle of georgewashingtonsspyTrenton where they get a first hand lesson in the struggle for American independence and witness the true cost of freedom. Continue the adventure with the sequel George Washington’s Spy MR-4

mrrevereandiMr. Revere and I: Being an Account of certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere,Esq. as Revealed by his Horse by Robert Lawson – Get a first hand account of Paul Reveres’ Midnight Ride from someone who was there!  Told from the perspective of Scheherazade, the pony that made the infamous ride, this story gives new insight into one of the most iconic moments in our nation’s history. MR-4

sophiaswarSophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi – Sophia, a patriot girl, witnesses the defeat of the Continental Army, the hanging of Nathan Hale, and must endure the occupation of her home, New York City by the British Army.  When she befriends a British soldier she almost loses sight of her dream of American independence, but tragic events bring his true nature to light.   With renewed dedication Sophia takes on the risky role of  patriot spy and finds herself an integral part of of the biggest betrayal in the new country’s history.  The occupation of New York City during the Revolution is brought to life through the unique perspective of a young girl.  MR-5

mybrothersamisdeadMy Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier –  Tim’s brother Sam joins the Revolutionary Army, but their father supports the British.  In this coming of age classic, Tim struggles with his political beliefs, personal loyalty, and what truly defines his character.  Set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War Tim embarks on a journey filled with tragedy and heartbreak. Newbery Honor Book  MR-6

chainsChains by Laurie Halse Anderson – Isabel is a slave in British occupied New York City during the American Revolution.  When her Tory owners sell her sister, Ruth, and she befriends a fellow slave with ties to the patriots,forge Isabel realizes she will do whatever it takes to help the side that will give her the best chance at freedom.  A riveting perspective on the American fight for independence.  Scott O’Dell Award Winner for Historical Fiction, National Book Award Finalist.  Continue Isabel’s story with Forge. MR-6


Trip It:  Visit these locations and see the Revolutionary War come to life.

The Freedom Trail, Boston, MA – Walk the 2.5 mile route to see 16 historically significant sites from Revolutionary era Boston including the site of the Boston Massacre, Old North Church, Paul Revere House, Faneuil Hall, USS Constitution, and the Granary Burying Ground with the graves of John Hancock, Sam Adams and other notable Patriots.

Minute Man National Park, Lexington and Concord Battlefield, Lincoln, MA – Visit the site of the first battle of the Revolution.

Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York City, NY – Located in lower Manhattan this museum, housed in a building from 1719,  preserves and educates about New York City during Colonial and Revolutionary War times.

Valley Forge National Park, King of Prussia, PA – Site of the winter encampment of the Continental Army in 1777-1778.

Independence Hall National Park, Philadelphia, PA – The birthplace of America, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed.

National Archives, Washington, DC – Visit the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution.

Click It:

National Park Service American Revolution Website – Get information on all the National Park Sites.  Click on Revolutionary Parks  and Tour the Revolution to take a virtual tour of the Revolutionary era historic sites from Florida to Maine.


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Filed under 4th of July, American Revolution, classics, George Washington, History, Holiday, United States