The Bill of Rights is the Ten Amendments of the Constitution that we use daily. Without it we could not be assured a fair trial, the opportunity to worship or speak out on an issue and be guaranteed that property would not be seized by the government at its own whim.
Daily news shows the enforcement of the Bill of Rights; for example, issues on gun control, witnesses' right to remain silent, threats to remove books from public library shelves.For the past four years the Utah State Office of Education through the Utah Law-Related Education Project has demonstrated to teachers how these amendments and the Constitution can be taught through literature. One culmination of the project was a 345-page annotated bibliography that I edited, titled "We the People." Many of the titles have discussion questions and ways to use the books in classrooms K-12.
Today, the Newspaper in Education department of the Deseret News provides a special section commemorating the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights. As a companion to this section edition, I'm listing some of my favorite books that were particularly helpful in writing "We the People." Please note that while some may be out of print, all titles do appear in libraries and can be ordered through library loan.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS; HOW WE GOT IT AND WHAT IT MEANS by Milton Meltzer (Crowell, 1990) is new this winter. It certainly is the best of the lot to describe what the amendments are and how we use them daily. It traces the history of this remarkable document back to England in 1215 and explains the reasons behind the American colonies' struggle to expand their liberties.
The evolution of James Madison's struggle to draft and put before the people this idea of a new specific set of rights is a well-written piece of text.
Each chapter of the book details one amendment and brings it up to date; how it affects our daily life and ways it has been changed over theyears. Meltzer's research is well-doc-umented with bibliographies and end notes.
The following are books that detail rights and freedom:
"You Have a Right." L. Engle-bardt Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1979.
"Human Rights." John Bradley. Franklin Watts Inc., 1987.
"The Constitution: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." B. Feinburg, Scholastic, 1987.
"Our Living Constitution, Then and Now." Jerry Atten. Good Apple, 1986.
"The Bill of Rights." Warren Colman. Children's Press, 1987.
"With Liberty and Justice for All: The Meaning of the Bill of Rights Today." H.V. Knight. Oceana Publishers Inc., 1988.
The following are books that explain one or more freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights:
"The Right to Remain Silent." Milton Meltzer. Harcourt Brace Jovano-vich, 1972.
"Don't Ride the Bus on Monday: The Rosa Parks Story." Louise Meriwether. Prentice-Hall, 1973.
"The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America." Nat Hentoff. Delacorte Press, 1980.
"Free Press vs. Fair Trial: Television and Other Media in the Courtroom." Michael Kornenwetter. Franklin Watts Inc., 1986.
"God and Government: The Separation of Church and State." Ann Weiss. Houghton Mifflin, 1982.
"Rights of Privacy." John H.F. Shattuck. National Textbook Co. 1979.
"The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment." R. Conrad Stein. Children's Press, 1982.
Of special interest are books where the rights of children and young adults are considered:
"Every Kid's Guide to the Juvenile Justice System." Joe Berry. Children's Press, 1987.
"Kids in Court." Sam and Beryl Epstein. Four Winds Press, 1982.
"Under 21: A Young People's Guide to Legal Rights." Michael Dorman. Delacorte Press, 1970.
"Every Kid's Guide to Understanding Human Rights." Joe Berry. Children's Press, 1987.
"Who's Running Your Life? A Look at Young People's Rights." Jules Arthur. Harcourt Brace Jovan-ovich, 1979.
While there were many who added to this time in history; the framers of the Constitution, defenders of liberty, statesmen, women, ethnic groups and those seeking citizenship, there are several books that stand out as examples of these "We the People":
"Great Lives: Human Rights." William Jay Jacobs. Scribner's, 1990.
"Fifty-five Fathers." Selma William. Dodd, Mead and Co., 1987.
"Great Lives: American Government." Doris and Harold Faber. Macmillan Publishing 1988.
"Politicians for the People: Six Who Stand for Change." Elizabeth Levy and Mara Miller. Alfred Knopf, 1980.
"Founding Mothers: Women of America in the Revolutionary Era." Linda DePauw. Houghton Mifflin, 1975.
"Coming to America" (series). Dell Publishing Co. (Story of Immigrants.)
"In America" (series). Lerner Publications. (Stories of Ethnic Groups.)