We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States.  Illustrated by David Catrow.  Foreword by David Catrow.  Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002.  32 pages.  Publisher recommends for ages 5-8.

The Preamble to the Constitution is illustrated here using a group of kids and a dog going on a camping trip.  Each clause of the Preamble has its own two page spread.  Catrow’s illustrations are rich in detail, often very funny detail.  Some of the illustrations make sense the first time through.  For instance, “establish Justice” has a picture of one of the kids pointing out the rules of the campout to the other two kids and the dog.  Some of the illustrations are a little harder to fit together with the words.  “Insure domestic Tranquility,” has a picture of the dog watching TV while one of the kids is hit on the head by a flying saucepan as he sits tangled in another kids’ rope.

The foreword is worth reading to kids.  It enhances understanding of the Constitution.

Immediately following the foreword is “The Words in the Preamble and What They Mean…”  The definitions all make sense to me, but I read several reviews on Amazon in which the reviewers objected to the definitions.  One person objected to “Promote the General Welfare: To help make life good for everybody.  Having enough to eat, a place to live, being safe, and having friends and fun times are some of the things that make our lives good.”  The reviewer seemed to think these are rights we do not actually have.  Because of the controversy over Catrow’s definitions, my guess is that this book would be enjoyed more by a child from a liberal family rather than from a right wing family.

The illustrations encourage kids to read “We the Kids” over and over again, and in the process begin to absorb the words of the Preamble and make the words their own.  This makes “We the Kids” a very valuable book indeed.


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