Celebrate This Land through Sight and Song

I have seen the redwood forests, but my children and many other children cannot comprehend or visualize the beauty that is included in those two words in one of my favorite song about America.  ”This Land is Your Land” is FULL of words/places that children should be able to visualize as they sing along with this homage to our country by Woodie Guthrie.

Road trips to see this country would be the ideal way to introduce all these wonders to our children.  If only that was always possible.

Young children love to sing along with the chorus of “This Land is Your Land” , and this singable song is a great format to take them on a musical tour of our country through the verses.

This video is a great start – well done, with lyrics as well as beautiful pictures that illustrate the words to this song.  It may be a good lead into looking at photo albums that the family has taken, or looking up further information about one of these wonders that catches their attention.

Personally, I love to have the songs that run through my children’s head have such a positive message and bring to mind such beauty, and sense of pride in who we are and where we live.  I like to believe this will help them be good stewards of our country and of our earth.

This Land Your Land

written by Woodie Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

There are two more verses for children who are a little older and ready to tackle some more controversial considerations as brought up by our dear friend, Woody, at a crucial time of debating the people’s place in our government.  The last two verses can be found on his website.

In this summer’s cultural excursion classes, and in the curriculum of the Kindermusik for the Young Child program (Sem.4), we explore the cultures of the Native American people, as well as the unique folk music of the people of the Appalachian Mountains.   One of the things I love most about Kindermusik is that the recordings are full of music that celebrate our country’s wide diversity of music heritage, as well as cultures from all over the world.

During this week when we celebrate our country’s independence, may you and your children enjoy good food, good friends, delightful fireworks, and a song to sing together that celebrates this land… our land.

How do you help your child appreciate the beauty and wonder of our country?

3 comments

  1. This song shows us what patriotism really is: the love of one’s homeland and the people in it, and the belief that the land belongs to everyone. Too often, “patriotism” is used as a term for nationalism, which is too often subverted toward other agendae (e.g., If you are patriotic, you support invasions of Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.) and is enforced with violence. Woody Guthrie, perhaps more than any other songwriter, composed from both the heart and the gut–which is why this song, and others he wrote and sang, work so well.

  2. When the sun comes shining, And I am strolling, And the wheat fields waving And dust clouds rolling, As the fog was lifting, A voice was calling, This land was made for you and me.

  3. In February 1940, Guthrie wrote “This Land is Your Land” in reaction to Irving Berlin’s song “God Bless America.” Guthrie heard Berlin’s song repeatedly while he traveled cross-country and became increasingly annoyed that it glossed over the lop-sided distribution of land and wealth that he was observing and had experienced as a child. Although Guthrie was no statistician his observations accurately reflected the fact that, even in the depths of the Depression, nearly 20 percent of the nation’s wealth rested with one percent of its population.

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