The Side-by-Side Declaration of Independence

Bushel & Peck. Oct. 2021. 96p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781638190486.
Gr 7 Up–Many people know very little about the contents of the United States’s founding document beyond the first few lines. This colorful and quirky book helps readers understand the specifics of the Declaration of Independence with modern English translations of the original text. The author starts with a review of the events prior to the signing of the Declaration. Though brief, it provides a glimpse into the causes of unrest and the sensibilities of the colonialists. That is followed by an examination of the full document. Each spread features the original text on the left side and the translation on the right. Vocabulary for each section is featured on the page, as are critical thinking questions and brief history lessons. The author doesn’t brush over the contradictory statements of freedom coming from those who enslaved people or the harsh language used for Native Americans. Little-known figures who played large roles in the revolution receive short bios. Readers are asked to think like political scientists and question the role and scope of government as well as the benefits of different forms of government. With the text, vocabulary, captions, and historical side notes, it can seem like bits of information are scattershot across the page, but this book introduces students to the Declaration in an informative and well-rounded manner. They are not just told what the document says but asked to think about it and question it.
VERDICT A great way to nourish an informed citizenry. Highly recommended.

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