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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets’ children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Season of thanks

November 22, 2017

It’s the season when we think about giving thanks. Occasionally, we take things for which we should be grateful for granted. Sometimes a fresh look can help us gain greater appreciation.

That’s just what happened when I read a recent book by Khizr Khan entitled This Is Our Constitution (Knopf).  It’s an introduction to the U.S. Constitution, its government, and the freedoms afforded American citizens.

The author is an American citizen now. His positive perspective comes from having grown up in a country without a comparable foundation.  Mr. Khan was born in a newly independent Pakistan located in South Asia between India and Afghanistan.  This has enhanced his appreciation of the U.S. Constitution (to which was added the Bill of Rights).

He contends that together these founding documents “are the moral basis for the nation” providing more than a “blueprint for government …[but] a moral basis for the nation …[and] guidance on how we should conduct ourselves as members of a community: a family, a school, a town, all together as a nation.”

I’m grateful that I read Mr. Khan’s book, which will both engage and inform young readers (from 10 up) as well as adults.  It may even begin a conversation as readers discuss the actual documents and the clearly contextualized history.

I’m grateful, too, to live in a country where certain freedoms may be assumed – freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and religious freedom just for starters.  If we don’t teach our children about what distinguishes their country, help them recognize it every day, the freedoms may be fleeting or worse, become irrelevant to them.

So at this time of year and all year, let’s remember how much there is for which to be grateful.

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio