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Constitution Translated for Kids    by Cathy Travis order for
Constitution Translated for Kids
by Cathy Travis
Order:  USA  Can
Oakwood, 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

The Constitution of the United States is a long document with legalistic lawyerspeak that confuses many adults, let alone children. Cathy Travis has taken the Constitution and translated it into ordinary, everyday language that kids can understand.

While this interpretation of the Constitution is simplified, it's not in any sense of the word dumbed down or written in a patronizing tone. It's laid out in two columns side by side with the original language on the left, and the translation on the right. This lets kids compare the two. The back of the book is devoted to a glossary of terms, thought-provoking questions, some amendments currently up for consideration, and contemporary issues dealing with the Constitution, such as the very interesting lesson on the Electoral College system of electing our President, as demonstrated in Florida so recently.

For the most part, I enjoyed this translation and felt that Ms. Travis did an excellent job in summarizing the Constitution. Many sections are open for interpretation, of course (that's why we have the Supreme Court), but the author did a worthy job sticking to just the facts, ma'am. An example of the style of summarizing:

'Constitution: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.'

'Translation: Anyone accused of a federal crime will not be required to pay bail that is out of proportion to the crime. Fines (money) charged to punish criminals must be reasonable, and any other punishment must not be cruel or unusual.'

(The word bail is in the glossary.)
I homeschool a seventh grade child, and plan on using this book when we cover American history, beginning next year for eighth grade (we're currently learning world history). Constitution Translated for Kids is a great resource for schools and homes, and I recommend it wholeheartedly for all families. It's too bad that the title says kids, because the book lends itself very well to middle school, in my opinion, and is best for grades five through eight. Teachers should definitely consider adding this to their classroom libraries.

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