The Children's Bookshelf: Let Liberty Rise!

Apr 5, 2021

This is the Children’s Bookshelf and I’m Sue Ann Martin

LET LIBERTY RISE! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save The Statue of Liberty written by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Chuck Groenink is a happy story about how the people of France built the Statue of Liberty and gave it to the people of the United States in honor of the 100th birthday of America’s democracy.

When the sculptor, engineers and craftsmen completed their work Lady Liberty was huge! In fact, all of its 350 pieces had to be shipped to America during the Spring of 1885 in 214 crates! When she arrived, however, the pedestal on which she was to stand was not ready due to the lack of funding.

Newspaper owner Joseph Pulitzer put out a call for help. He also pledged that everyone who contributed no matter how small the amount would have their name published in his newspaper. Children took this offer up in a big way and got busy sending in pennies, nickels and dimes from their piggy banks, candy money and from homemade liberty socks that sold for five cents!

One of the most powerful illustrations is a spectacular two-page spread that shows Lady Liberty standing tall in all of her steadfastness and compassion with the torch in her right hand and the tablet on which is inscribed the date of July 4, 1776 cradled in her left arm as fireworks greet the sky.

The author has provided fine back materials including a useful Timeline covering the first planning and building of the statue to the construction of the pedestal and the festive inauguration of Lady Liberty on October 28, 1886. The back material also includes historic photographs.

LET LIBERTY RISE! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty is a perfect celebration of history for readers 6-8 years of age (Scholastic Press, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and activity questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Let Liberty Rise

Look at the double page illustration of the parade that took place during Lady Liberty’s inauguration and play an I SPY visual awareness game by finding the following people and things: a boy sitting on a curb, a dove, a drum, a small national French flag, a girl in a red dress, Joseph Pulitzer, a piccolo, a man in a black top hat, a water wagon and confetti. History tells us that President Grover Cleveland was in attendance. If he is in this picture where do you think he is?

Emma Lazarus’s poem entitled The New Colossus was written on the statue’s pedestal in 1903. Look it up online and read it aloud with a parent, grandparent or a teacher. What do you think it means? Why is this an ideal poem for placement on the Statue of Liberty? Be sure to look up the meaning of any words you do not recognize.

As you can see by the letters from children in this book many children supported the building of the statue’s pedestal. Why do you think this project was of interest to them? If you were in charge of getting more children involved what kind of poster would you create that would persuade them raise funds? Use your imagination. Create a slogan, design a poster and have fun!