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The Congress: A Look at the Legislative Branch

The Congress: A Look at the Legislative Branch

By: Robin Nelson and Sandy Donovan
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: January 2012
ISBN: 978-0761385592
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 2012

When our country was first formed, our founding fathers got together and wrote the U.S. Constitution, a document that "explains how the men thought the U.S. government should work." The government comprises three parts or branches, the executive, judicial, and legislative. The legislative branch makes the laws that we must follow in order to keep our country working smoothly. The legislative branch, or the Congress, is comprised of two parts. One is the House of Representatives and the other is the Senate. Representation varies in that each state has two senators while the "House has 435 members."

Congress has many jobs including controlling trade, making laws about money, and they even "have the power to declare war." As legislators, senators and representatives need to work on bills that may or may not become federal laws. Federal laws apply to all of our citizens while state laws only apply to their residents. In this book you will be able to follow some students who learn how to "turn an idea into a law." You'll learn about how a bill is written and presented to Congress by a sponsor, how similar bills can be presented in both the House and the Senate, you'll learn about committees, the decision making process, how the bill passes, how it moves to the Senate, the second reading in the house, and you'll learn many other interesting facts about the legislative process.

The conversational format, especially when some children try to introduce a fictitious bill and follow its progress, makes it easier for young students to understand. The bill they want to make into law, eliminating the need to go to school on Fridays, is one that would encourage a bit of debate and fun in a classroom setting. As the conversation develops, there are photographs and historical archival art reproductions to illustrate the process. Many of the photographs are current, including one of President Obama signing a bill into law. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources that students can access to learn more about how our government works.

Quill says: This is an excellent introduction to the U.S. Congress and how it works.

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