Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Presidency and The Supreme Court

Christine Taylor-Butler has two new books on American government, both published by Scholastic in 2008, The Presidency and The Supreme Court.

An advance warning :my review may be slightly biased by the fact that I am a huge fan of governmental literacy in children.

These two short books (each under 50 pages) both follow a similar format. They contain Find the Truth!, Contents, Chapters, The BIG Truth, True Statistics, Resources, Important Words, Index, and About the Author.

Find the Truth! is a challenge and a clever hook to hold the reader's interest. The reader is confronted with two sentences, and advised of the following, "Everything you are about to read is true except for one of the sentences on this page. Which one is TRUE?" The two statements do not reveal any obvious truth, and the average student will need to read on to discover whether or not George Washington was paid to be president. He wasn't. (Although he was offered a sum equivalent to $500,000.00 in today's wages - more than our current president makes!)

The chapters cover the basics of each topic in a manner easily understood by younger readers, "Once he or she takes office, the president is in charge of the country's relations with the rest of the world. The president leads the people when disasters occur. He or she heads the military. The president also makes sure the laws of the United States Constitution are followed."

The Big Truth is a double spread inset. For The Presidency, it's a floor plan of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, noting the facts most interesting to students. e.g., the pool, movie theater, bowling alley and three kitchens. For The Supreme Court, it's The Case of the Close Call - a simple explanation of the Supreme Court's role in the 2000 presidential election.

In addition to Find the Truth! and the easy reading style, these two books are loaded with photos, charts, graphs, maps, and images of paintings realia, and more. All images are captioned, most in red. The majority of the text is in a large, simple font, although numerous sections are highlighted or inset.

If these books don't inspire interest in national government, then nothing will. Hopefully teachers will find and use these books for grades 4-8.

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