The US Congress for Kids: 225 Years of Lawmaking History

US Congress_lg

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

•    Targeted Audience:  Upper Elementary, Middle School (Ages 10 and Up)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction US History
•    Author: Ronald Reis
•    Publisher: Chicago Review Press
•    Publication Date: November 1, 2014
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 12 X 8
•    Printing: Black & White
•    Length: 144 Pages
•    Retail: $16.95
•    ISBN: 978-1613749777

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Image of slave ship Credit: The Library of Congress

A Fascinating Front Row Seat in the Legislative Branch of the US Government

One of the most engaging of all the titles in the outstanding Chicago Review Press For Kids Series, US Congress for Kids provides readers with an overview of the US Legislative process, from the very first meeting of Congress in 1789 to laws created in 2014. On what typically is a rather confusing and dry subject, author Ronald Reis breaks everything down so that it is both completely comprehensible and at the same time fascinating.  In fact, the explanation of how the US Congress is organized and what its functions are, is the best written summary on the subject I’ve ever read, bar none. I’m sure there are as many adults who could benefit from reading this (as I did) as there are children. Photographs and historic drawings add to the learning experience.

A Lesson in History and Politics Minus the Rote Memorization

Fascinating quips about historical events that took place in the early days of Congress are presented, including many that revolved around the issue of slavery such as the “Crime Against Kansas” speech and William Slade’s Violation of the Gag Order in 1837. In addition to the inner workings of congress, there’s information on: Impeachment; Amendments to the Constitution such as Direct Election of Senators and the Women’s Right to Vote; laws on Immigration and American Citizenship; Congressional investigations such as Senator Joseph McCarthy’s accusations about government officials being members of the communist party; Civil Rights and Jim Crow Laws; and Campaigning for office. Throughout the book are offset boxes featuring key figures in Congress from Aaron Burr to Elizabeth Warren and other important and intriguing individuals in US lawmaking history.

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Image of Congress Credit: The Library of Congress

 21 Activities

You’ll love the activities in US Congress for Kids. They are original and interactive, actually encouraging readers to get involved in the political process. Among them are: finding their local US Representative and writing him or her a letter; writing their own one-minute speech; tracking a bill thorough congress; learning how to register to vote; and launching a petition action. There are some artistic activities too, like making a congressional medal of honor and a capitol dome from toothpicks and gumdrops.

What This Book Teaches

Readers get such a comprehensive and objective view of how the US Judicial System operates. They discover that despite all the political controversies that have arisen throughout history, our Congress works for our greater good. Learning about constitutional rights and how they are protected by law opens the door to understanding the importance of securing the freedoms upon which our great nation was based. There’s a tremendous amount of  important educational information in  US Congress for Kids, but the book is written in such a way that readers will not be overwhelmed by it. They will discover many new vocabulary words, and in the back of the book are an important Glossary of political terms and a list of Websites to Explore relating to the topic.

Aerial of the U.S. Capitol under restoration. The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the Federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall.

Image Credit: The Library of Congress

Why You Should Buy This Book

When I was in middle school, high school and even college, books and classes available to me on the US Government were so tedious and uninteresting, I was turned off by the subject completely. US Congress for Kids takes the bore out of history and politics and makes it a real page turner. It is apparent that a tremendous amount of work went into researching and writing this book, and that must be commended. Ronald Reis has a way of writing that is so engaging, the reader gets excited about the subject at hand. I read and reviewed Reis’ Christopher Columbus for Kids last year, and it too was a book I could not put down.

US Congress for Kids facilitates independent thinking and inspires readers to fight for all that is just. Understanding the basics of the way our government works from an early age empowers children to look forward to voting and taking action to do what they can to protect the freedoms set forth by the US Constitution. We need future politicians who will protect our rights!

About the Author

RReisRonald A. Reis is the author of numerous nonfiction books for kids and young adults, including Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids, with 21 Activities. His biography of Buffalo Bill Cody won the 2011 Spur Award for the best juvenile nonfiction biography about the west, from the Western Writers of America. He lives in Calabasas, California.

Further Learning

  1. Learn more about the three branches of government on Kids.Gov.
  2. Visit the Kid’s Wesbite for The Library of Congress.
  3. Watch live sessions of the House of Representatives online.
  4. Explore the National Museum of History’s Division of Political History.

Read my review of Christopher Columbus for Kids also by Ronald Reis and my interview with Ronald Reis. Check out other excellent titles in the Chicago Review Press for Kids Series.

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