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Reading of the U.S. Constitution Text Can Spark Kids Interest in History

US Constitution Text

Can the U.S. Constitution reading make history cool again?

This morning, in a historical, first-time event, the House of Representatives read parts of the U.S. Constitution aloud. The reading was an effort organized in order to bring the country back to its political roots.

This historic occasion is good news for kids. In a world where kids are immersed in texting, iPods, Facebook, Twitter and other technology that didn’t exist more than a couple decades ago, the reading of the Constitution is a great way to bring kids back to the old-school and give them a healthy dose of history in a way that’s more accessible than through the pages of their dusty textbooks.

Remember the School House Rock’s video of the U.S. Constitution’s Preamble (“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…”)? Putting the Preamble into song helped many kids “back then” memorize it and maybe, just maybe, go on to read other parts of the Constitution.

Keeping history alive and entertaining for kids is an ongoing struggle. How do you make a long document packed with formal language and a bunch of old guys in wigs seem cool for kids?

However, after today’s reading of the U.S. Constitution, teachers will be able to show kids that the Constitution isn’t just some pages of words in their textbooks. It’s alive and kicking. This is also a great opportunity for parents to point out to their children that their lives are very much affected by the way the United States were founded, and for better or worse, that will continue to affect their lives as they grow up.

Like most things in government though, the reading wasn’t without a little inevitable controversy.

As Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey read Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution, (“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President”), a woman yelled out “Except Obama!” The woman, a “birther” (person who argues that President Obama has failed to prove that he was born in the United States) was removed, but the interruption was still noted.

Although the interruption was somewhat of a downer in an otherwise positive-spirited event, perhaps it can also be used to teach kids about the struggles that have existed throughout American history.

Photo: Flickr/Takoma Bibelot

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