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The US Congress for Kids: Over 200 Years of Lawmaking, Deal-Breaking, and Compromising, with 21 Activities

Review

The US Congress for Kids: Over 200 Years of Lawmaking, Deal-Breaking, and Compromising, with 21 Activities

On January 3, 2013 the 113th US Congress was formed, and it was the first time in congressional history that white males no longer made up the majority of House Democrats. Quite a miraculous feat for this diverse group of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos of different religious affiliations and gender identity. Their presence would have been banned from the political arena if Congress hadn't addressed civil rights issues years ago. Thus, THE US CONGRESS FOR KIDS unfolds the inimitable story about the various circumstances that have helped form the oldest branch of the US government into what it is today.

Seasoned educational writer and award-winning nonfiction author Ronald A. Reis has produced yet another remarkable book specifically earmarked for older elementary school students. Reis captures the attention of young readers by opening with a rather peculiar event between two members of Congress over the topic of slavery. That event segues perfectly into the 1st (all white male) US Congress of 1789, who gave that unconscionable issue their immediate attention, and the virtually incessant political strife that followed. Ironically, "congress" is a Latin term that means "coming together."

Ronald A. Reis has produced yet another remarkable book specifically earmarked for older elementary school students.

Reis makes it very clear from the get-go that while Congress' Herculean cooperative efforts overthrew slavery, challenged executive branch authority, gave women the right to vote, made major strides in civil rights "and provided the necessary advice and consent rulings, among many other major achievements," it has had (and continues to have) a consistent history of unpopularity among Americans. Their 225 year existence unfortunately has been (and is to this very day) riddled with more non-cooperation than not. Yet Reis mentions, "In creating the Congress, our framers did a remarkable thing. It is up to us as citizens to keep it going. We do that by insisting on accountability from our congress people. And accountability will occur if we get and stay involved."

Reis incorporates a plethora of primary source photos and informational text boxes within his narrative that cover the decisions that eventually lead up to The Civil War, women's right to vote, immigration, and The Civil Rights. But Reis goes beyond historical markers by zeroing in on interesting nuances, such as how the House of Representatives and the Senate are referred to as the Lower House and the Upper House, respectively, or the annoyances that came with the House first opening their doors to the public. Aside from making laws, it’s assumed that the Congress’s job is to perform necessary investigations to uphold the law. Examples include impeachment proceedings, hearings against people like Senator Joseph McCarthy and President Bill Clinton, the Watergate scandal, and much more.

What makes Reis' book so unique are the 21 hands-on activities, covering everything from various Internet searches, letter writing and tracking a bill through Congress to making paper money, making a Capitol dome and "capitals for the Capitol." Complete with more websites to explore, an extensive timeline and a thorough glossary of congressional terminology, THE US CONGRESS FOR KIDS is a perfect study companion for both home and traditional school environs.

Reviewed by Anita Lock on November 21, 2014

The US Congress for Kids: Over 200 Years of Lawmaking, Deal-Breaking, and Compromising, with 21 Activities
(For Kids #55)
by Ronald A. Reis

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2014
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press
  • ISBN-10: 1613749775
  • ISBN-13: 9781613749777