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The Constitution

A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution. Betsy and Giulio Maestro. New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1987. Grades 2-4.

Explains why and how the U.S. Constitution was created. Provides a fairly detailed, yet easy-to-understand, account of what happened during the Constitutional Convention, the arguments for and against each of the plans, and what went into drafting and ratifying the Constitution. Then describes why and how the Bill of Rights came about. Contains the text of the Constitution, a summary of the amendments, a list of the signers, and other lists of facts about the Constitution.

Constitution Translated for Kids, 3rd ed. Cathy Travis. Austin, TX: Synergy Books, 2006. Grades 4-7.

Provides a line-by-line translation of the U.S. Constitution: the text of the original document is laid out on the left-hand side of the page and accompanying explanatory paragraphs are set out on the right-hand side. Also includes historical context, student exercises, a glossary, and "fast facts." The book was written by a staffer for a U.S. representative.

A Kids' Guide to America's Bill of Rights: Curfews, Censorship, and the 100-Pound Giant. Kathleen Krull. New York: Avon Books, 1999. Grades 6 and up.

The 462 words that comprise the Bill of Rights—the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution—are explained through the use of anecdotes, sidebars, and related political topics in a way that is understandable to a secondary grade student audience. And who is the 100-pound giant? It’s James Madison, the father of the Bill of Rights. Contains a bibliography and index.

Our Constitution. Donald A. Ritchie. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Young adults.

Begins with a background on how and why the U.S. Constitution was created, the rights it protects, how it has expanded over time, and how it is interpreted. Most of the book comprises detailed descriptions of each clause and article of the Constitution, with "what it says" and "what it means" explanations. Contains profiles of important Supreme Court cases, historical anecdotes, texts of related primary source documents, a glossary and index, and terrific illustrations and photos.

Shh! We're Writing the Constitution. Jean Fritz. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1987. Grades 2-5.

Presents a "behind-the-scenes" look at the trials and tribulations of the Founding Fathers as they wrote the U.S. Constitution during the summer of 1787. Weaves into the narrative descriptions of several of the personalities who drafted and debated the Constitution; explains Federalist and Anti-Federalist forces; describes the ratification process; and discusses the debate over creating a Bill of Rights. Includes the full text of the Constitution.

We the Kids: The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution of the United States. Illustrations and foreword by David Catrow. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002. Grades K-5.

An explanation of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution in language that kids can understand. Contains a foreword and an easy-to-understand glossary ("establish justice" means "to make things fair and honest for everyone"), followed by the story of a dog who leads three children on a camping trip. The story is told through the preamble. The illustrations relate to each phrase in the preamble.

The Children's Books and Web Sites bibliography lists more kid-friendly literature about the U.S. government.