Shh! We're Writing the Constitution
post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution
Author: Jean Fritz
Major Themes: American History, US Constitution, US History
Synopsis: An entertaining, informative book explaining how the US constitution was created.
Any study of American history must include at least a mention of the constitution’s creation. However, my idea of how that actually took place wasn’t solidified very well until I read Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution. I’ve always appreciated Jean Fritz’s perspective and style of writing, and this book was another good one. She presented the facts as they were, but she did a good job at making the presentation interesting, as well.
After the Revolutionary War, the colonies soon realized things weren’t getting any better—on the contrary, without the war effort to unite them, the relationships were actually turning pretty sour. One colony could make a law, but if a criminal went to another colony, he may or may not be able to be brought to justice. No one respected anyone else’s laws, or money, or even really cared if some colonies were struggling to hold their heads above water. And, worst of all, with such division between them, it would be easy for an enemy nation to conquer them one by one and soon they’d be right back where they started before the Revolutionary War. They needed to be a strong nation, united under a single government. But they needed men who were wise enough and strong enough to pull them all back together again, too.
I loved how this story was told. We don’t just get the bare facts here, with dates and attendees and all the things they debated back and forth before they finally settled on one particular wording for the document. Jean Fritz brought these people to life, telling about some of their opinions, some of the things the members of the convention had to put up with during their deliberations, some of the attitudes of different ones as they came and worked. In a way, you feel like you’re there as they worked, building a plan with what they hoped was enough checks and balances to ensure it would work well for hundreds of years.
If you’re looking for a good overview of the Constitution and why the delegates formed it the way they did back in 1787, I highly recommend Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution. It’s short, simple, and at some points, humorous. And it really helps to explain the thinking and ideals of those men so long ago. I think even younger children would get something out of it, even though children in the 10-15 range is probably closer to what the author was aiming at. At the end of the book, the Constitution of the United States is reprinted, so you have a chance to read it yourself, as well. It’s a lot of wading, but worth it. I really enjoyed this read, and would love to explore some of Jean Fritz’s other historical works.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above
Links to buy Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: American History, US Constitution, History, United States History, Colonial Era (US), North America