I pledge allegiance

 I pledge allegiance: the Pledge of Allegiance: with commentary by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson.  Illustrated by Chris Raschka.  Candlewick Press, 2002.  40 pages.  Publisher recommends for ages 6-9.

Many Americans grow up saying the Pledge of Allegiance every single school day. But do they understand what they’re saying?  The meaning of the pledge is explained word by word in this clearly written book. After reading “I pledge allegiance,” a first or second grader will no longer recite the pledge by rote, not knowing what it means. The tone of the book reassures the reader that the pledge can be understood, yet never condescends.  Chris Raschka’s simple illustrations add to this sense of an understandable pledge.

My only disappointment is with Martin and Sampson’s treatment of “Under God.”  The text of the book says “Many people believe that a democracy is a reflection of how God thinks – every single person is important.”  The US as a democracy hasn’t yet been mentioned in the text, and children may not know what a democracy is. Besides that, the text presents a strong theological statement that adults argue over. “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 at a time when we were trying to differentiate ourselves from the Soviets. I wish Martin and Sampson had trusted kids enough to think they could handle the history of “Under God.”

Aside from my quarrel with the treatment of “Under God,” this would make a great addition to any school classroom or library. It would be wonderful choice as a present for a 6 to 9-year-old.