Monday, April 7, 2014

Symbols of American Freedom: Ellis Island by Hilarie Staton

Published in 2010 by Chelsea Clubhouse
Nonfiction / Informational

Hilary Staton's Symbols of American Freedom: Ellis Island is one book in a series of books that tell stories of important historical places and monuments that have shaped American history and have become symbols of freedom for all Americans. Other volumes in this set include The Alamo, Independence Hall, The Lincoln Memorial, Fort McHenry, Mount Rushmore, The Statue of Liberty, The Gateway Arch, The Gettysburg Battlefield, and The Washington Monument.

Staton's book documents the history of Ellis Island and explains how it became a symbol of hope for millions of immigrants throughout the years. The book is written for students 8 years and up and is beautifully illustrated. Many of the illustrations come from the Library of Congress and other historical societies and libraries. The book describes in detail what it was like for those who passed through Ellis Island from the time they arrived until they actually entered the country.

Throughout the book, there are short bios of immigrants who came to America; Max Factor (1877-1938) is one example:
Max Factor was born in Lodz, Poland. In 1904, he, his wife, and their three children entered the United States through Ellis Island. They went to St. Louis, Missouri, where he sold perfumes and creams at the 1904 World's Fair. A few years later, they moved to Hollywood, where he began doing makeup for movie actors. He invented new ways to make actors look better on film. Soon after, he began selling makeup to the public. Over the years, he invented many new products, such as false eyelashes and the eyebrow pencil. Max Factor brand makeup is still very popular today (6).
The book also includes short stories of immigrants written "In Their Own Words." These primary sources add credibility to the text. Staton also discusses in detail how Ellis Island has changed over time. The final chapter in the book describes what it is like to visit Ellis Island today. Both a timeline and glossary are included in the book to aid the reader in understanding the text.

I highly recommend this book for those who believe it is important to teach children about the opportunities America has provided for millions of immigrants from around the world.

Ellis Island National Monument Official Website
Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Official Website
Immigration, Stories of Yesterday and Today

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