Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: The Journey of The One and Only Declaration of Independence

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Introduction and Summary
The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence
was written by Judith St. George and was illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.  The book is a historical account of the Declaration of Independence, a powerful document used to commence this nation’s government and more importantly free the colonists from the grasp of England.  The book goes into detail about some of the signers of the document and even the person who had to draft all of the copies of the document.  From this point, the book reveals the true story of the many places this important document was housed over the past 200 plus years.  It goes as far as to describe some of the ways the document was preserved and repaired so that it could be viewed by all, even today.

“On July 4, 1777, the Declaration of Independence was one year old.  So was the United States.  Like any one year old, the nation was toddling on unsteady feet.  The war still hadn’t been won.  But it hadn’t been lost, either.  Philadelphia threw a wingding of a birthday party.  The Declaration didn’t march in the parade…or join the militia in firing a salute…or marvel at the sky-high fireworks.  But the forty-four line, one page parchment was the star of the celebration.  Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!  Now the Declaration could be placed under glass in the Pennsylvania State House for all the world to admire, Right?”

Curriculum Connections
This book discusses one of the most important tools in our nation’s government, the law.  It stresses the importance of this document to secure America’s way of life and the ways it has been defended, protected and preserved for all time.  While the Declaration of Independence is a lesson in civics about the rights and privileges of free people, the book also provides a strong lesson of American history.  One that this books spends a lot of time discussing places and dates with regard to the Declaration of Independence.  It might not fit some of the standards for lesson planning but is a fun and insightful book for students in the third through fifth grades. (VA SOL 3.11 or CE.2)

Additional Resources

Book: The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence
Author: Judith St. George
Illustrator: Will Hillenbrand
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 45 pages
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 0-399-23738-0