Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Barack Obama: Out of Many, One

Corey, Shana. Barack Obama: Out of Many, One. Illustrated by James Bernardin. Random House, 2009. 46 pages. $15.99. ISBN 9780375963391.

In an upbeat and positive biography of President Obama, young readers are introduced to this contemporary president. This is a “Step into Reading” level 3 book, intended for “reading on your own;” the format is consistent with other early reader texts, (large size font and line spacing, three to five words per line, with illustration), with accessible language for independent and emerging readers. Readers learn about Obama’s biracial parentage, as well as the places and people of his childhood. Though he sometimes felt out of place, particularly while living in Indonesia with his mother, sister, and step-father, Obama was clearly a child who was loved. Later, we learn about Obama’s life in politics and his passion for helping people and helping the world become a better place. Bernardin captures the global jubilance after Obama’s presidential victory, depicting an urban Western street as well as a rural African village in celebration. The final page shows a photograph of President and Mrs. Obama visiting school children at a library: “Where does your story fit into the American story? ...Anything is possible---what happens next is up to you!”

Curriculum Connections:
This book is another terrific option for those 2nd and 3rd grade research projects on presidents and people who have made a difference. There is information on every page and it is organized in chronological order, though it lacks some of the nonfiction text tools that readers may be familiar with, such as a timeline, glossary, and index.

Personal Reflections:
I’m always looking for biographies that will be appealing to young readers. This one fits nicely into the category of early reader biographies that has emerged in recent years. President Obama is most likely the president that young readers will be most familiar with and the accessible language and tone will reach out to them.


Age/Interest Range:

Nonfiction, Biography, U.S. Presidents, History

Though higher than Capstone Press’ First Biography series (George Washington, Mayer), this will appeal to independent readers who want to learn more about historical figures.

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