Books on the U.S. Constitution

Dear Reader,

We only spent about three weeks on the Constitution in our homeschool, but I wanted to share with you the books we used. A few are good, living books; others are not but they were the best I could get my hands on from our library system. This seems to be one of those subjects on which much is written for kids, but little is truly wonderful. This is part of a continuing series in which I share with you what we have been reading as we make our way through American history. You can find all the posts here.

And now, without further ado, books we used on the U.S. Constitution:

constitutionbooks

Story of the Great Republic by Helen Guerber — This was our spine book for this topic. There were really only 4 or 5 chapters we read from it, but I did feel it gave a nice introduction to the issues at stake and why we needed a constitution.

We the People by Peter Spier and We the Kids by David Catrow — Both of these books are just the preamble to the Constitution with lots of pictures. Of the two, Spier’s is better. It has lots of pictures on each page from different times and places in the US. Catrow’s has pictures of two kids and their dog camping. It didn’t make a ton of sense to me.

House Mouse, Senate Mouse and Woodrow the White House Mouse and Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse all by Peter Barnes — These picture books posit a mouse government parallel to our own. They are cute, informative and done in verse.

Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz — Fritz’s books are always entertaining and well-done. At about 44 pages each they are easy enough for my 9yo but could also work for older children. I’d say they are 3rd-7th grade level. This one really does a great job of telling the story of the Constitution — why we needed it and how it came about.

The Great Constitution by Henry Steele Commager — This one is a real find — a living book in the Constitutional Convention. I would say it is middle school level but I had my 9th grader read it too. It is not overly long but it really manages to bring the personalities involved to life and adds a lot of interesting details.

The U.S. Constitution by Norman Pearl — This is not a living book but manages to cover the basics without being overly tedious of having a lot of distracting side panels like so many books these days do. It is elementary level.

The Bill of Rights in Translation by Amie Jane Leavitt — Again, this is not a living book. As its name suggests it looks at the amendments in the Bill of Rights one by one and explains to kids what the language means.

The United States Constitution by Therese Shea — Still not a living book but a concise explanation of the Constitution. It added some details we had not read in other sources, including (very) brief summaries of the various articles of the Constitution and some of the later amendments.

Did You Know?: the American Revolution by Guy Robinson –This is a book of question and answers on the Revolution and Constitution. It is not very CM-y, I suppose, but my kids respond well to answering these things in a game show type format. I did not go through every one but there were quite a lot which covered material we had covered and we had a  good time. Plus they got candy for right answers. That is definitely not CM.

Lastly, not a book but don’t forget about the old Schoolhouse Rock videos they are great for covering how a bill becomes a law, the three branches of our government and the preamble.

Not a long list, I know. Any favorites you would add?

Nebby

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