Words and music by Woody Guthrie, paintings by Kathy Jakobsen
A Publishers Weekly Best Book
A School Library Journal Best Book
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Parenting Book of the Year
This post has a free getting to know you class activity printable. An introduction to this activity could be the song This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie. It makes a great first week of school book (explanation below). It is illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen, and the project took her a year and a half to complete. Her pictures are bright, happy, detailed, and have vibrant colors. Kathy Jakobsen is one of America’s premier folk artists. Her paintings are in several permanent collections including the Museum of American Folk Art and the Smithsonian.
The current weather in Texas is what reminded me of the song, when the lyrics say: “and the dust clouds rolling.” When I see the news showing scenes of the drought in Texas, I am so hoping the rains will arrive soon.
I bought this book in 2000 when I had a summer assignment as a teacher to present a visual report to my fifth grade class about what I did in the summer. Because my family had driven across country to visit relatives, I used this book to help explain my photos. All of the students could relate to this book in some way.
The pages with the verses are full color two-page paintings every other two pages. The refrain is on bordered two-page spreads in between. On the bordered pages, in each of 8 corners, are quotes from songs by Woody Guthrie. One of the corners reads, “All any kind of music is good for anyway is to make you and me know each other a little better.” The refrain, a picture, or information is included in the borders.
I believe almost every state in the USA is included in the detailed pictures, including places such as: Firestone Farm in Greenfield Village, Michigan; Portland Head Light Station, Maine; Mesa Verde, Colorado; and Oak Alley, Vacherie, Louisiana. There is something for everyone in this book, and it helps start off the school year with a great discussion.
Getting to Know You Classroom Freebie
There are quite a few YouTube videos of this song, so look for one you like. Here is my FREE PDF first day of school activity to accompany this book. Students interview each other to find at least one person who can initial each category of summer fun. I made this page easy for children to sign as I included pictures and low cost-activities as well as usual summer travel. Happy reading!