Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, September 19, 2022

Side-By-Side Declaration of Independence: with side-by-side “plain English” translations! by David Miles

The Side-by-Side Declaration of Independence: with side-by-side “plain English” translations!
by David Miles 
Bushel & Peck Books. 2021

At a time in our world, when words are being twisted to serve a particular purpose, this 2021 title offers a visually appealing presentation of America’s historical document that was the first step in our democracy. 

In, Side-By-Side Declaration of Independence, Miles pairs the original text of the Declaration of Independence with “plain English.”

The book begins with five pages to explain the “Buildup to the Declaration,” then a brief explanation on “How To Use This Book.” The left-hand pages are in red and show the original text from the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776. The right-hand pages, in blue, provide the “Plain English” translation. The addition of pictures of Founding Fathers, maps, and additional information places what the text is saying into a historical context.

Let me give you an example:

Original text: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Plain English: “When a group wants to separate from another group and be independent, it’s polite to explain why.”

The book’s design uses collage illustrations from visuals sourced from illustrator Albert Pinilla, public domain archives, and Shutterstock. Though each double-page spread is quite active visually, the pairing of original document translated into present day English, historical facts, pictures of historical figures makes this a attractive and engaging. Because of the topic, older readers studying American history will find it very useful. 

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