stars & stripes & nordic crosses

I’ve been regaling my family with fascinating facts about flags these days, courtesy of a brilliant book on the subject that I recommend to you all, especially during this World Cup month.

flying colors cover image

Flying Colors: A Guide to Flags from Around the World, written, illustrated, and designed by Robert G Fresson
published in 2017 by Cicada Books

I was intrigued by the subject matter of this book at first sight. Flags are a flamboyant part of our world, unfurling from soaring staffs, parading down boulevards, waving from stadiums at worldwide sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup, painted on faces of fans. Yet I’ve seen very few books for kids about them and this one is superbly put together.

Colorful, creative, studded with information like a fruitcake has currents, with arrestingly-designed pages that grab your attention and carry it right along through the 100+ pages. This is a nonfiction gem.

flying colors interior Robert Fresson

Within a few minutes of reading, I had learned more about flags than I ever knew there was to learn as I embarked upon the vivid field of vexillology  — a new word for me. Learn accurate words for the pieces and design elements that make up any flag, then watch a colorful group of figures “build” dozens of flags from around the globe, becoming marvelously aware and appreciative of the ingredients in all these flags.

flying colors illustration Robert Fresson

There’s good reason for each of a flag’s particular elements and along the way, Robert Fresson succinctly dishes out history tidbits from various countries and world regions which bear on the designs of their flags. I am telling you, my head was buzzing with new-found connections I never realized existed between, for example, independence movements and flag colors and design elements.

flying colors interior5 Robert Fresson

You can read an amazing amount of information about a nation from its flag! Watch some countries’ flags evolve from medieval times until now. See similarities among some nations’ flags due to their origins, geopolitical identity, beliefs. Learn what the colors symbolize. Examine the heraldry infused in some emblems. Curiously rich symbols, these flags of ours!

flying colors interior4 Robert Fresson

See the little vexillologists building the flag?

In fact, as an old homeschooler (we never really retire!) my brain was madly sparking with ideas for using flags as a framework for studying history or geography, an approach which would have captivated my elementary-age kids, made these subjects zestier, and boosted curiosity about these vibrant symbols.

flying colors interior2 Robert Fresson

The Nepalese flag is so intriguing.

For your junior fact hounds, ages 10 and up, you could turn them loose with this book on their own. During the World Cup, it has been ridiculously enjoyable for me to watch those flags unfolding on the pitch or draping every inch of fans’ bodies and think — hey! I know cool things about that flag! So, consider nabbing this one pronto if you’re glued to the matches the way my family is.

flying colors interior3 Robert Fresson

See the overlaid components of the Union Jack? Fascinating!

For slightly younger readers, or for teachers/homeschoolers looking for a unique approach that links history to the current and colorful flags your students regularly see — check it out. It comes from a small British publisher so you might not find it in your local library but ask an indie bookseller to order you a copy or purchase it online through Indiebound here. Includes world maps and blank pages for designing your own flags. What people does your flag represent and why did you design it that way?