Callista Gingrich: I Want to Teach Children What It Means to be American
October 6, 2012
John Bachman and Patrick Hobin
Callista Gingrich told Newsmax.TV that she wrote her new book, “Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride,” to help teach children how the characteristics of Americans were shaped in the colonial period, why the U.S. is an exceptional nation, and what it means to be an American.
Gingrich, who wrote another children’s book called “Sweet Land of Liberty,” said her travels throughout the country with her husband, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, helped inspire her to write her second book, which is geared for children ages 4 to 8. The book features Ellis the elephant.
“We’re such a richly diverse nation,” she said. “I wrote this book because I love America and I believe America is an exceptional nation and it’s more important now than ever that our children realize what a special nation this is.”
Through Ellis the elephant, Gingrich said she would like children to “explore the various chapters of history. In ‘Sweet Land of Liberty,’ Ellis discovers the pivotal moments of America so he can begin to appreciate the greatness of our nation. In “Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride,” Ellis discovers how our nation began as he learns about our 13 original colonies. It’s vitally important that our children begin to appreciate how our nation began and how our characteristics and traits as Americans were shaped in the colonial period.”
She continued, “Colonial America is such a large and often unknown part of our history and so my hope in ‘Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride’ is that children will really have the tools to begin to appreciate how our nation began.”
In the book, character is a common theme and Gingrich said she hopes children today are learning the lesson of hard work, among other noble ideals.
“Unfortunately, in many situations our students are not learning our American history,” she said. “They’re learning, instead, a politically correct history or a revisionists’ history, and studies show that a majority of fourth graders today can’t identity Jamestown as our first English settlement. Most fourth graders don’t know why the Pilgrims left England. And fewer than a third of all eighth graders can actually explain why the colonies fought England during the Revolutionary War.”
“So we have some catching up to do and it’s my hope that through books like ‘Sweet Land of Liberty’ and ‘Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride,’ we can teach our children what it means to be an American,” she said.
Gingrich included some of the aspects of American history in the book — conflicts with Native Americans and slavery — that are sometimes difficult to discuss with children because “we have to be realistic and we address the issue of slavery in our illustration and verse about South Carolina because we know we did have a lot of slaves in Colonial America in South Carolina, but we also address the issue that we know this isn’t the right thing and Ellis learns that he knew this cruel practice was not the American way.”
Gingrich said there were some interesting state facts she learned in the course of writing the book.
“Ellis and I learned together and it was interesting to learn that in New Hampshire, for example, the colonists established a rule that every village of 50 people or more would have its own school, placing a very high value on education,” she said.
“Ellis also learns about Roger Williams in Rhode Island and his quest to make freedom of religion a basic human right. Finally, in Georgia, Ellis learns about the fallen and underprivileged who are given a second chance and they’re able to work off their debt rather than going to prison,” she explained. “Those are three interesting examples of some unique attributes in the colonies and there are just so many remarkable stories. That’s why I wrote ‘Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride.’”