* That is our structure from Khizr Khan
An immigrant who becomes a US citizen offers a meaningful, personal explanation of the constitution of our nation from middle class.
* This is our constitution: what it is and why it is important by Khizr Khan. Yearling, 2019. 224 pages.
- Read level: Age 10-12
- Recommended for: From 10 years on
Khizr Khan and his wife are originally from Pakistan. They are also Muslims. This perspective offers Khan a unique perspective to defend the US Constitution. Those of us who grew up in a country that adopted the Bill of Rights can easily forget how incredible this document is. Khan offers a personal introduction, including his background and current profession (he's a lawyer). Then he goes through the history of the constitution and explains the constitution step by step in clear language. Khan also covers key Supreme Court cases. * Middle school students will have no problem understanding Khan's text. It also contains the entire text of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the end pages.
On the way, Khan offers personal side effects that can be quoted in and of themselves:
We are still sitting under the light that was lit during the constitutional convention. Our constitutional writers were hopeful, thoughtful men, and they created a government that respected ideals, hard work, and dignity. We need to remember that – and hold on to their spirit when we work together to solve today's problems.
~ Khizr Khan, this is our constitution, p. 64
The debate is essential for democracy. It is not a reason to split. This is how we advance our nation. But even when the political tensions are high, we are governed by the authority of the law. This guarantees the freedom of our nation.
~ Khizr Khan, this is our constitution, p. 24th
Sections like this are particularly moving in this current, turbulent season. We see unrest in the news, are caught up in a “rejection culture”, and all forms of civil public discourse seem to be waning. Khan's comments on the First Amendment should be read for all Americans.
Perhaps it is time on July 4th that we all step back and look at these founding documents of our country. At least we should educate our children (and ourselves) about these documents in the months leading up to our next presidential election. Khan's book is an excellent step in this direction.
- Khan does an admirable job of remaining “neutral” in his discussions of key constitutional and Supreme Court events. Regardless of which political party you are allied with, this is a good resource.
- Khan calls America a democracy several times, especially in the beginning. It is clear that it contrasts the American government and the influence of its citizens with countries like Pakistan. But technically, America is not a democracy. Encourage your children to search for "Democracy", "Republic", "Constitutional Republic", "Democratic Republic" and related topics. What do your children think is the right answer?
- * Khan covers the following Supreme Court cases: Marbury v. Madison (1803), Dred Scott v Sandford (1857), Brown v Board of Education (1954; referring to the previous Plessy v Ferguson in 1896), Roe v Wade (1973), Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) and choose others.
- Khan does not shy away from the inequalities of the founding fathers, particularly with regard to slavery and how "citizens" or "people" were counted for representation. This should offer you and your children / students good starting points. You could discuss how these early decisions affected laws and measures far into the future, what is being done today to correct injustice, and the simple fact that the US Constitution is not inspired. Every document written by humans has errors!
* indicates a star rating
Overall rating: 4.5 / 5
- Weltanschauung / morality rating: 4.5 / 5
- Literary / artistic rating: 4.5 / 5
Related reading from the redeemed reader:
- A book list: Patriotic book list (Books for all ages)
- A book list: We the People … a book by the US government List
- A book review: We recommend for older students Land of hope by Wilfred McClay as a beautifully balanced historical text.
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