The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

Book Reviews

Lawyer Parents — this book review is for you! Explaining to kids the law, or what we do as lawyers, can be tough. If you’re looking for books to start the conversation, give this one a try. With illustrations and a foreword by David Catrow, We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States presents the 52 words that are the foundation of our system of law.

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

These words capture the purpose for the succeeding Constitution and the laws by which we live, encompassing big ideals like freedom, justice, peace, safety, and happiness. But the typical question that follows, as Catrow points out in his foreword, is “what does all this mean?” Targeting its juvenile audience, We the Kids starts with a kid-friendly glossary, explaining the words of the preamble — helpful for adults alike! Take the phrase “promote the general welfare” — in kid-friendly terms, that means “to help make life good for everybody.” Utilizing only the words of the Preamble alongside visually intriguing illustrations, Catrow provides space for parental probing of juvenile minds. What do you think this picture means in relation to the words on the page? The pictures reveal the adventure of three children and a dog. The 52 words are broken into 10 segments with a full-spread image, each new picture revealing the next step of their voyage. The expedition begins behind a map with the dog as pack mule for a mound of necessary camping items. With few words but rich imagery, take your time to see these sacred words through the eyes of kids. Case in point — the page with the words “promote the general welfare” showcases the children giggling at their silly dog by lantern light inside their newly erected tent. Scattered around them are cookies, juice boxes, and wrappers — evidence of childish fun. With that visual, it is much easier to understand what our founding fathers meant by that phrase — to enjoy life, to have fun with friends and family, and to have food and shelter. What looks like a trek through the forest turns out to be a backyard adventure under the watchful eyes of smiling parents, accompanied by the words “to ourselves and our posterity” — our future generations. We the Kids is a captivating tool to start a conversation with the next generation of lawyers and leaders about the words that underpin the United States of America.

Lyndsey E. Siara is a member of The Florida Bar.