Thanks Jackie for posting these recommendations!
I have two coffee table books to recommend as well:National Parks of North America
by National Geographic
andIn Search of America
by Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster. This book explores the basic ideals that drive and define the American characters. To quote a review by the Library Journal:
In this companion to an ABC series that aired in September, authors Jennings and Brewster, who teamed up so successfully to write The Century and The Century for Young People, take the reader on a journey through contemporary America. Examining challenges to the nation's founding ideals, they focus on six cases from widely scattered locations, first as a contemporary problem and then in historical context. In South Carolina the creation vs. evolution debate becomes a discussion of the separation of church and state. A conference in Washington, DC, becomes a stage for the perennial argument between a strong federal government and states' rights. Gary, IN, is a city that reminds us of the inequality that still exists among the races. In Plano, TX, modern business practices are juxtaposed against early American entrepreneurs. In Boulder, CO, a high school production of the musical Hair provides a backdrop for a look at popular culture and Americans' methods of raising their children. Finally, Salt Lake City is the setting for America's historical stand on immigration and its effect on our population. With a number of sidebars, this journalistic account raises thought-provoking questions. The authors believe that the Founding Fathers' structure has endured and that it will serve us well in the future. Recommended for most public libraries.
I look forward to putting a few of your recommendations on my holiday wish list...