My Country, 'Tis of Thee

How One Song Reveals the History of Civil Rights

Claire Rudolf Murphy; Illustrations by Bryan Collier

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

More than any other, one song traces America’s history of patriotism and protest.


Everyone knows the words to “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” What most don’t realize is that this iconic song has been a beacon of change for hundreds of years. Generations of protesters and civil rights pioneers have created new lyrics, beginning in royalist Britain and continuing through conflicts in colonial times, the American Revolution, the suffragist and labor movements, and the struggles for black and Native American civil rights. With spectacular illustrations by Caldecott Honor–winning artist Bryan Collier, My Country, ’Tis of Thee offers a fascinating insight into the American fight for freedom.


Praise for My Country, 'Tis of Thee

Praise for My Country, 'Tis of Thee:


"Murphy revisits pivotal moments - social, political, martial, in which the familiar song was co-opted and re-lyricized as a partisan theme song . . . Will indeed be helpful in connecting readers to songs and recordings." - BCCB


"An intriguing new take on a beloved patriotic song." - Booklist


"A familiar patriotic song culminates in a hymn to "Great God Our King". - School Library Journal


"This examination of a well-known piece of music and the activism it inspired makes for a fascinating way to explore history." - Kirkus Reviews


Bryan Collier’s awards:

· 6 Coretta Scott King Awards (including Rosa, Uptown, and Visiting Langston)

· 3 Caldecott Honors (Rosa, Martin’s Big Words, Dave the Potter)

· Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award (Uptown)


Praise for Rosa:

 * “Collier’s large watercolor-and-collage illustrations depict Parks as an inspiring force that radiates golden light.” —Booklist, starred review



Praise for Uptown:

“Collier’s evocative watercolor-and-collage illustrations create a unique sense of mood and place.” —School Library Journal


“This complex, many-layered vibe is made almost tangible by the kaleidoscopic illustrations.” —Kirkus Reviews


"Layered textures and hues, photographs, and intricate paper designs create eye-catching and sometimes haunting illustrations." -Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Claire Rudolf Murphy; Illustrations by Bryan Collier

  • Claire Rudolf Murphy is a long-time history buff who loves to write stories from the viewpoint of outsiders in American history. She has written fifteen award-wining books for young readers and currently teaches at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children program.


    Bryan Collier grew up in Pocomoke City, Maryland. His first book, Uptown, won the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. He has also received Caldecott Honors for his illustrations in Rosa, Dave the Potter, and Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Bryan Collier


Available Formats and Book Details

My Country, 'Tis of Thee

How One Song Reveals the History of Civil Rights

Claire Rudolf Murphy; Illustrations by Bryan Collier



Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)