Founding Fathers: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Barry Blitt

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary:  Who were the men who helped start America, and what exactly did it mean to be a Founding Father?  Jonah Winter takes an irreverent look at fourteen of them, giving each one a page of information that includes height, weight, shoe size, career and wealth, slaveholding status, position on the Boston Tea Party, famous quotes, and a few other facts and anecdotes.  Each page is accompanied by a full-page portrait.  The introduction or “Preamble” tells a little about this group and draws some comparisons to present-day politics and arguing over issues.  The final few pages take a closer look at some of the issues including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, religion, slavery, government, foreign wars, and taxes, then concludes with a full page of additional resources.  Grades 2-5.

Pros:  The writing is heavy on humor and kid-friendly facts.  Yet this is a great introduction to the whole concept of “Founding Fathers” (a term coined by Warren G. Harding in 1918, in case you were wondering).  It might also make you feel better about today’s Congress to learn that so much was accomplished in spite of 18th-century partisan bickering.

Cons:  There’s not much depth.  The additional resources will be needed to cover the history of the period more thoroughly.

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