The Remarkable Ronald Reagan by Susan Allen; Illustrations by Leslie Harrington
June 20, 2013 in Allen Susan, Books With Social Studies Content, Common Core Standards, Elementary Educators, Making Personal Connections, Picture Book, Research Ideas Tags: Books With Social Studies Content, picture books about the president, Presidents' Day
I’m honored to be hosting a blog tour for Susan Allen, author of the picture book, The Remarkable Ronald Reagan, part of a TLC blog tour. I am going to give a short review of what I thought of this book and then I also have an interview with the author that is not to miss! Check it out below and feel free to leave a comment or question! Here we go!
Review: I love this book, The Remarkable Ronald Reagan. Susan Allen has managed to take a complicated life full of many accomplishments, and even an assassination attempt, and write a book that kids will understand and enjoy! The illustrations by Leslie Harrington are rich, colorful, and realistic–superb! I also think there are several things for adults–while I was reading, I kept saying, “Oh yeah, I remember.” Or “I didn’t know that.” Just for your information, it starts with him as a baby and goes until he passes away in 2004! I think every classroom in elementary school should have a copy of this book, and I’m glad my daughter and stepson will also have a copy!
Interview:Margo: Welcome, Susan, to Read These Books and Use Them. What made you want to write a book about Ronald Reagan?
Susan: IT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN TO LEARN ABOUT ALL AMERICAN PRESIDENTS, BUT RONALD REAGAN’S STORY IS OF PARTICULAR INTEREST BECAUSE HE REALLY HAD BIG DREAMS AND WANTED TO DO A LOT OF THINGS IN HIS LIFE. ALONG THE WAY, HE WAS A LIFEGUARD, A RADIO ANNOUNCER, AN ACTOR, AND SERVED IN THE ARMY RESERVE CALVARY. HE SERVED AS PRESIDENT AT A VERY IMPORTANT TIME IN THE HISTORY OF OUR NATION AND THE WORLD, WHEN HE HELPED SPREAD FREEDOM. THE MORAL OF HIS STORY IS THAT YOU CAN DREAM BIG, WORK HARD–AND AMAZING THINGS WILL HAPPEN.
Margo: What a great message that is! Was it difficult to take someone’s life (who had many successes) and narrow the topic enough to write a book for kids? How did you go about this process?
Susan: YES, RONALD REAGAN DID HAVE MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS. WE WANTED TO HIGHLIGHT SOME OF HIS JOBS AS A YOUNG MAN AND SEVERAL OF THE THINGS HE DID AS PRESIDENT. AFTER BEING GOVERNOR, HE AND HIS WIFE, NANCY, PURCHASED A RANCH IN CALIFORNIA WHERE HE COULD RIDE HORSES. THERE ARE MANY HIGHLIGHTS IN HIS CAREER- SEVERAL ARE DISCUSSED IN THE BOOK AND OTHERS ARE LISTED IN A TIMELINE IN THE BACK (WHICH ALSO MAKES THE BOOK A GOOD RESOURCE FOR REAGAN FACTS AND QUOTES).
Margo: That’s a great point. Who would you say is the perfect audience for The Remarkable Ronald Reagan?
Susan: YOUNG STUDENTS, AGES 8-12, WILL GAIN A GOOD AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN— AND IF THERE ARE OLDER FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS READING ALONG, THEY WILL BE INSPIRED TOO!
Margo: What are some activities that parents/teachers can do with your book and children?
Susan: THE BOOK LENDS ITSELF TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS EXPANDING ON THEIR OWN LIFE STORIES (IE:, DID THEY SERVE DURING WAR TIME? DID THEY HAVE JOBS AS A YOUNGSTER? DID ANYONE EVER TELL THEM TO HAVE BIG DREAMS ABOUT WHAT THEY WANTED TO BE?) AND SHARING DETAILS IN CONVERSATION THAT PERSONALIZES THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO A MAN WHO WAS PRESIDENT AND SERVED HIS COUNTRY DURING A VERY IMPORTANT ERA. THERE ARE MANY FACTS INTERWOVEN INTO THE STORYLINE OF THIS BOOK. ADDITIONALLY, THERE ARE SPECIAL SECTIONS IN THE BACK THAT SHOW RONALD REAGAN’S HUMOR IN HIS QUOTES, COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN HIS HANDWRITTEN LETTERS, AND HISTORIC MOMENTS IN HIS TERM AS PRESIDENT AND THE EARLIER YEARS IN HIS LIFE.
Margo: I imagine that young and old could do a DREAM BIG journal writing after reading this book: What are your dreams? How are you inspired by President Reagan to achieve these dreams? Susan, You’ve had a very interesting life yourself–you were the First Lady of Virginia when your husband was the governor. Your father-in-law is an NFL coach, and you met Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office. How have all of these experiences shaped you as a writer?
Susan: I HAVE HAD A FUN AND INTERESTING LIFE! I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO SERVE IN SEVERAL POSITIONS THAT GAVE ME A “BULLY PULPIT,” WHERE I COULD WORK ON ISSUES IMPORTANT TO THE CITIZENS OF VA. I ALSO MARRIED INTO A FAMILY THAT WAS WELL KNOWN FOR THEIR FOOTBALL SUCCESS. (RONALD REAGAN WAS A FAN AND FRIEND). FOOTBALL, AND OTHER TEAM SPORTS, TEACH YOU WONDERFUL LIFE LESSONS. WINNING COMES FROM GREAT PREPARATION AND HARD WORK, AND LOSING TEACHES YOU MORE SOMETIMES THAN WINNING. AS LONG AS YOU STILL HAVE ISSUES YOU BELIEVE IN AND GOALS YOU WISH TO WORK TOWARDS, YOU CAN GET “BACK IN THE GAME” AND SEIZE THEM. THE IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE IS TO DO ALL YOU CAN TO USE THE SKILLS YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE WORLD AROUND YOU A BETTER PLACE. RONALD REAGAN CERTAINLY DID THAT AND WAS A TREMENDOUS ROLE MODEL.
Margo: Anything else you want to add?
Susan: PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN WAS A SIGNIFICANT HISTORICAL FIGURE WHO CAME FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS, WHERE HE LEARNED ABOUT HIS FAITH, KINDNESS, HARD WORK AND COMPASSION. HE WENT ON TO NOT ONLY CHANGE OUR NATION, BUT THE ENTIRE WORLD. HIS CHEERFULNESS AND OPTIMISM ALLOWED HIM TO CONVEY HIS STRONG ISSUES OF FREEDOM, SELF DETERMINATION AND LIMITED GOVERNANCE IN SUCH A PERFECT WAY AS TO ATTRACT SUPPORT FROM ALL CORNERS OF THE WORLD. HE LOVED HIS TIME AT HIS RANCH, “RANCHO DEL CIELO,” WHERE HE COULD CLEAR HIS MIND WITH A TRAIL RIDE AND HOURS WORKING THE PROPERTY. HE DIED IN 2004 AFTER SUFFERING A LONG ILLNESS WITH HIS PARTNER AND WIFE, NANCY, BY HIS SIDE.
Margo: Thank you, Susan, for your time and sharing your story with us today!