As we look forward to a hopeful future, and President Biden’s words echo in our ears, I admit to being even more curious about all that is part of “We the People.” This curiosity sprung from reading all the books I had to for the Cybils Awards as well as from discussing US Government and US History with my teen as he has recently been studying them (History was part of his Junior year curriculum, while Government was senior year for the first semester – recently ended). And with last year being what it was (completely excluding the most hugest part of it – the virus), I admit to want to know more about what is good government anyway? Or rather simply all the hows, whys, and whats of it.
And these words from President Joe Biden’s speech are going to further inspire me to learn more, do more for that better everything.
But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On “We the People” who seek a more perfect Union.
And I believe this is the same for everyone, no matter where they are, here in America or elsewhere; our better stories, our better everythings depend on all of us – together.
The Books: Part Two: The Good Government
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Note that this list of books is certainly not an exhaustive one, nor necessarily the most comprehensive. But these are among the books I did read and love; these are books I was informed by and inspired to do more, to learn more, and definitely books I want to share with others. I would love to add more to the list with any recommendations, and will do my best to add previous related reads as and when I recall them.
This is part two, as stated above, of the short series of books I plan to feature this week. Part One is here.
What is Good Government Anyway?
The Constitution Decoded
Title: The Constitution Decoded: A Guide to the Document That Shapes Our Nation
Author: Katie Kennedy, Kermit Roosevelt(contributing editor)
Illustrator: Ben Kirchner
Length: 208 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/Government Books (10 – 14 years)
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (September 1, 2020)
Absolutely loved the format of this book: it makes learning the constitution or at the very least, the most important tenets of it, easy and not-boring-at-all at the same time.
The book takes the readers through the whole text of the constitution, breaking it by the Articles and Amendments; and further breaking them down as needed (by sections or simply by logical stops). Using the original text on one side of the page with a simpler, less archaic translation on the facing page, this book does a good job of explaining the Constitution without dumbing down anything in the process.
In addition, there are
- relevant and fun Did You Know?-s and Look Back-s
- vocabulary words defining any difficult words on the page
- ‘Constitution in Action’ examples showing how the articles and/or amendments are actually used
- and more interesting facts sprinkled across pages
or rather, a combination of the above as needed and relevant, that make the learning more fun and real.
I loved the color coding! Each Article/Amendment uses a different color that helps us navigate the book easily in addition to simply being more appealing. The cartoonish and bright, colorful illustrations add further to its appeal.
Sections titled Further Reading towards the end include The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, all the vocabulary words in one place, and a suggested reading list.
This book does a wonderful job of breaking down the Constitution with clarity and without bias. Overall, a great, informative read for all ages.
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For Which We Stand: How Our Government Works and Why It Matters
Title: For Which We Stand: How Our Government Works and Why It Matters
Author: Jeff Foster
Illustrator: Julie McLaughlin
Length: 176 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/Government Books (8 – 12 years)
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.(September 1, 2020)
An important read for young readers, and even older readers. This book is certainly about the US government, and so suited to audiences here in America. It is a pretty comprehensive look at the US government, its history, how it functions today, why the various parts of the government matter, and so much more.
The sections are divided into
- basic Whats: what is government and what does it look like? This includes an introduction to types of government, the US government itself, as well as the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, among other things.
- the important Hows: how governmenr works in your communuty (city/county/state)?; information on running for office; lots about voting (including the whos, hows, whens. whats. and of course, the Electoral College)
- again, a few Whats and Whos: explaining more about the different branches of the government (the President, Congress, the Supreme Court); how they work together and by themselves; and lots more
- finally ending with an important What: what each one of us can do to participate, and be a part of the process as well as the nation.
Bright and informative illustrations as well as charts and infographics, color-coded pages, an appealing, fun and easy-to-follow layout, as well as a straightforward narrative make this book accessible and educational. And I could not fail to miss that the background for the pages is a lined-notebook!!
Backmatter includes a glossary and index.
A great resource for educating readers of all ages about the basics of America’s government – from its inception, to its functioning, and its continuous evolution; and how we can be involved to make it better.
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You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People
Title: You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People
Author: Elizabeth Rusch
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/Government Books (12 years and up)
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers(March 31st 2020)
This book uses a combination of detailed, straightforward, and more importantly, non-partisan (almost) narrative along with eye-catching infographics and illustrations to cover the basics of what our democracy means (here in the US) and more.
Each chapter does a deep dive into a specific issue/topic that impacts our government (from its inception to its functioning); including the basics, the electoral college, gerrymandering, voting rights and traditions, voter turnout and its impact, and so much more! Rusch offers a rich array of resources (lists of websites, organizations, and suggested activities) that build upon the issues discussed in each chapter.
Overall, an excellent resource that will appeal to its target audience and engage even adults. It will help each of us take action towards building a better future, for ourselves, and others after us.
Some comments on the WWW note that America is a republic, and not a democracy; and that confounded me. Of course, the ‘is a republic’ part is all true and fine, but the ‘NOT a democracy’ part?? America is still a democracy as well, albeit what is termed as a representative democracy. And one article I enjoyed reading about this can be found here (The Atlantic). Also please note that these are just my thoughts, and not something I put in here to start any kind of political discussions (though your thoughts are always welcome, on this and anything else in my posts)
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While each of these books addresses overlapping topics, and is targeted towards overlapping audiences by age-range, I feel that used together, they will be a powerful resource indeed. Not just for young readers, but for adults too.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read any of these books? If yes, your thoughts? If not, which book interests you the most? Also, do you have any recommendations for similar books? Do let me know..