The Supreme Court (World Almanac Library of American Government)

The Supreme Court by Geoffrey M. Horn.  (World Almanac Library of American Government).  World Almanac Library, 2003.  48 pages.  Publisher recommends for grades 5-8. ISBN 978-0-8368-5459-6.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States.  It was created, along with the entire Judicial branch of the Federal government, by the Constitution.  This book thoroughly covers the Supreme Court, from its ceremony to its effect on our daily lives.

This book describes how the Court works on a day-to-day basis, and how Supreme Court Justices are nominated and confirmed.

The written opinions of the Court are important, as the book explains.  Both opinions in favor of the decision the Court has made as well as dissenting opinions have an effect on current and future legal decisions in this country.

There’s a section on the Chief Justices.  There’s also a section on those who have been famous dissenters against the majority decision on cases.

Many of the decisions of the Court affect our daily lives. The book notes the important case of Brown v The Board of Education in which segregation based on race was outlawed.   The book looks at many other cases, for instance Bush v Gore, in which the court made a decision which resulted in Bush becoming president rather than Gore in the year 2000.

All of this information fits into a 48 page book. It’s a dense book, but it’s also a fascinating book.

There are many photos, all captioned, plus many boxes of information separate from the main text. Both of these begin to seem like interruptions that detract from the main text. They all need to be read, though, because all of them supply valuable information.

In the back of the book there is a list of all the justices who have served on the Supreme Court from 1789 through 2002. There’s also a selected list of the landmark decisions of the Supreme Court. Next comes a timeline, followed by a glossary, resources for finding out more information, and finally a two-page index.

The amount of information packed into this book is truly remarkable. Mr. Horn’s writing makes the book very readable. I’m left with a desire to find other books in the same series.

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The Supreme Court (A True Book)

The Supreme Court (A True Book) by Patricia Ryon Quiri.  Children’s Press, 1998.  43 pages.  Publisher recommends for grades 3-5.

The Supreme Court is the highest court of the judicial branch of government. The judicial branch of government, along with the legislative branch and the executive branch, were created by the Constitution. The Supreme Court has a rich history, and it has decided many cases that have had a profound effect on the United States.

This book is clearly a textbook about the Supreme Court. The type font is large and there’s lots of white space, making it a more comfortable book for children to read. It’s a factual book and an historical book. It notes several of the courts important decisions, for instance Marbury v. Madison and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Color photographs fill the book, taking up space that otherwise might hold words kids would have to read, and also adding information by showing how people such as Justice Earl Warren looked.  There are also some black-and-white photographs and some drawings, for instance of the first Supreme Court justices.

Immediately following the text there is a page called “To Find Out More.” Most of the books listed here seem to be out of print.  The next page is titled “Organizations and Online Sites.”  Some sites listed here are still active and some are not.

The next page is “Important Words.”  In the text of the book itself, both “federal” and “national” are used. The list of important words would be stronger if it included “federal” and “national.”

The index is complete except that it leaves out “federal” and “national.”

The “Meet the Author” page is very interesting because it reads like an author page and adult nonfiction work. In other words, it establishes Quiri’s credentials for writing this book. After reading this book in which the concepts seem very clearly and carefully aimed at third to fifth graders, it seems out of place that the last page written for adults.

“The Supreme Court” is certainly not an enjoyable book. It’s a utilitarian book, and it gets the job done in a way that just might make the Supreme Court interesting to third thru fifth graders.