This Is Our Constitution
This Is Our Constitution

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Annotation: The author traces his family's experiences immigrating to the U.S. to introduce the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, explaining how it represents America's democratic values and discussing the importance of the documents' history.
Genre: Government
Catalog Number: #146554
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 216 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-524-77091-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-98872-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-524-77091-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-98872-9
Dewey: 320.973
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Subject Heading:
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
[=With]This clearly written, straightforward study of the Constitution is written by Pakistan-born Khan, who spoke passionately at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Khan's personal voice, plus an abundance of sidebars, speech bubbles, black-and-white photographs, and diagrams, is interesting and readable. Back matter includes a plea to young people to take a stand for the Constitution and a valuable guide to landmark Supreme Court decisions. Ind.
Kirkus Reviews
An immigrant's-eye view of the Constitution's importance, featuring a transcription of the document into simpler, modern language.Addressing young readers with a reference to the preamble—"You are the posterity for whom they gathered in Philadelphia"—the Pakistan-born author opens with eloquent praise for the mix of idealism and practicality that permeates both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and has made the Constitution "America's beating heart." Along with including the complete texts of both (the Declaration's "merciless Indian Savages" and all), he goes on to describe the former's composition, including the "shameful compromise" on slavery, and to explain the resulting structure of our federal government (including the press as an unofficial "fourth branch"). He also offers a less-formal rendition of the Constitution's articles and amendments ("ensure domestic tranquility" becomes "ensure peace within our borders") and highlights 13 landmark Supreme Court decisions related to federal powers and personal rights. If he neglects to mention that among the Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson too was a slaveholder or gives short shrift to American immigration law's checkered (to say the least) history, still he makes a sturdy case for understanding those powers and rights and appreciating their value. Frequent personal asides underline the message, as do his closing suggestions for becoming and remaining politically active and aware.An optimistic picture of our progress toward promoting a more perfect union, with an essential tool kit for every current or prospective citizen. (index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)
Publishers Weekly
As he did in his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Khan interweaves sincerity, personal knowledge, and passion with an urgent message about committing oneself to justice and liberty in his first book for children. Khan-s firsthand exposure to the absence of fundamental freedoms, growing up in newly independent Pakistan, fostered his deep appreciation for the values, principles, and ideals threaded throughout the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He believes that, other than its tolerance of slavery (which he describes as an expedient but -shameful compromise-), the Constitution embodies an aspiration to human dignity that he encourages readers to defend ardently. After Khan provides historical context for the Constitution and paraphrases its sections in language geared toward his audience, the book presents the full text of both founding documents. He concludes by highlighting landmark Supreme Court decisions from 1803 to the present, entreating readers to study the Constitution and to engage in appropriate actions to preserve it. Khan-s optimism and dedication to the ideals of America-s Founding Fathers infuse this inspiring and instructive work. An adult memoir, An American Family, publishes simultaneously. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up The most important legal document for the United States is given a comprehensive introduction by an author who has cause to truly appreciate it. Khan, a lawyer and Gold Star father, first came to national prominence as a speaker at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. In this book, he adds to his introduction and analysis of each article and amendment of the Constitution the perspective of someone who maintains a deep appreciation of the United States. He opens by looking at the structure of the U.S. government and the system of checks and balances built in by the Founding Fathers, before looking at why the Constitution was needed, and then at its parts. The full text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution then follows. Several landmark Supreme Court cases that hinged upon constitutional issues, such as Marbury v. Madison and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, are used to illustrate that the Constitution is a living document. VERDICT This is a timely look at the structure of the U.S. government and a key addition to nonfiction collections. Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Horn Book (8/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (12/1/17)
Wilson's Junior High Catalog
Word Count: 34,534
Reading Level: 8.9
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 8.9 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 197587 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 1190L
Guided Reading Level: X
Fountas & Pinnell: X
 
Our nation has always looked toward the future. History matters, of course, but the founding documents of the United States are more than history lessons. They point the way forward to a more free, more peaceful, and more just nation. They challenge each generation to build a better United States.
It's all there at the beginning of the Constitution, the Preamble. The framers of the Constitution thought hard about every word, and they could see far down the road, too. When they sought to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," they were talking about you. You are the posterity for whom they gathered in Philadelphia. You are the future they envisioned. 
 
I know the Constitution will endure because I've seen the dignity and the decency of the American people. My wife and I were privileged to raise three fine boys in this great nation. 
If you've always lived in a country that is ruled by laws, and not by dictators, it's hard to imagine living without justice, without even any hope for justice. If you've always had freedom of speech--the right to speak your mind and openly share your opinions--you probably can't imagine what it's like to know that one wrong word could send you to prison for the rest of your life. 
I know these fears because I lived with them. I treasure my American citizenship now, but I didn't grow up with it. I was born in Pakistan in 1950. Located in South Asia, between India and Afghanistan, Pakistan was a newly independent country back then, recently separated from England after nearly two hundred years of British rule. Like many newly liberated nations, Pakistan lacked sound government and sound public services and suffered from public corruption. No one trusted the police. The justice system protected the rich (who bribed their way through it) and terrorized the poor. Journalists went to jail for criticizing the military dictators. You could be arrested for attending a protest rally. You could disappear. You could be killed. 
My wife, Ghazala Khan, and I came to America because we wanted to live in freedom. We wanted our children to grow up with the blessings of liberty. And they did. 
Of course, our boys groaned every time we made yet another visit to yet another monument in Washington, D.C., and rolled their eyes when their mother and I sang the praises of the Bill of Rights at the dinner table--"Enough already, Baba! You've said the same thing thirty times!" But they were paying attention. Our faith in America took root in a new generation. 
Humayun Khan, our middle son, studied at the University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson. There, he volunteered for the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) because he had a deep desire to serve his country. He believed, as he wrote in a college essay, that sacrifice and vigilance were crucial to liberty and democracy. After graduating in 2000, he joined the army, with plans to eventually attend law school and become a military lawyer. One day in 2004, while serving in Iraq, he ordered his fellow soldiers to hit the ground when he walked toward a speeding taxi armed with bombs. He was killed. His fellow soldiers survived. At the age of twenty-seven, he sacrificed his own life to save the lives of others. 
Like so many other brave Americans who have died in service to the United States, our son was a hero. We are moved and humbled by his commitment to our nation. We know how much he loved this country. 
The spirit of our democracy, the values to which our son dedicated his life, can be seen in the founding documents of the United States, especially the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They express the moral principles that to this day guide our legal and political systems. They are idealistic, and they are also practical. Our founders knew that a house can't be built on sand, and that a country can't thrive without a sound government. 
But it's also true that our government can't function as intended without informed citizens, especially informed young citizens. The Constitution needs each and every one of us to stand with it. Our future depends on you--on your commitment to justice and your dedication to liberty. 
The Constitution of the United States has endured for more than 225 years--a remarkable achievement. 
 
While many other countries have wholly altered their governments or entirely rewritten their constitutions during times of social or political unrest, our Constitution is resilient and flexible enough to ride out periods of change and to expand our commitment to justice and equal protection. 
In 2016, a wave of hate speech directed against my religion, Islam, broke across the country, and certain politicians encouraged ugly prejudices. Many, including some of the children in my neighborhood, began to fear for their safety and the safety of their friends. They had heard reports that Muslim families wouldn't be allowed into the United States anymore. They feared that Muslim families would be sent away from America. Parents brought these children to talk to me because I am a lawyer, a person of faith, and a man who is known to carry a copy of the Constitution in his pocket. I tried to assuage their fears by telling the children about the justice and strength of our founding documents. 
Then one day, much to our surprise, my wife and I were invited to make a speech about our son Captain Khan at the Democratic National Convention, the gathering at which the Democratic Party chooses its candidates for president and vice president. It would be a public speech at a televised gathering, and we have always been private people. We knew we would be thrust into the limelight, and we were not sure we were ready for it. We asked for time to decide, and we thought and thought at our home in Charlottesville, Virginia, unsure about what to do. 
 
 
 

Excerpted from This Is Our Constitution by Khizr Khan
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

From Gold Star father and beloved Democratic National Convention speaker Khizr Khan comes a book for young people about the Constitution—what it says and why it matters for everyone.
 
Our Founding Fathers created the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as a blueprint for American government and the rights of American citizens. This document is not merely a piece of parchment but a living, breathing promise of our deepest democratic values.

Khizr Khan grew up in Pakistan, with few of the fundamental rights that are enshrined in the Constitution. He immigrated to America and became a citizen, raising his family to appreciate and honor all our nation has to offer. Khizr Khan is deeply passionate about the Constitution: the guarantees and protections it provides for each and every person and the beacon of light it shines throughout the world.

This Is Our Constitution is a personal journey that Khizr Khan is taking with our nation’s young people.
 
The book includes:
* A highly personal introduction and conclusion
* Notes throughout that share Khizr Khan’s reflections on and connections to the U.S. Constitution
* The fascinating history of why and how the Constitution was written
*Article by article and section by section, an easy-to-follow explanation of what the Constitution means
* A closer look at key amendments, including the Bill of Rights, and pivotal Supreme Court decisions
* The complete texts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
 
This is a book about why the Constitution matters to you, and us all.


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