Friday, April 11, 2014

Reading: My Senator and Me - A Dog's-Eye View of Washington D.C.

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Some things make me happy to think about: children's books, for example.  A good shoe sale.  A day spent on the beach.  My mom's strawberry shortcake.  Running.  Dogs.  Some things don't make me so happy to think about: government, for example.  Hairy scary spiders in the backseat of my car.   You get the idea.  However, in My Senator and Me: A Dog's-Eye View of Washington D.C., written by Edward M. Kennedy and published in 2006 by Scholastic, a dog talking about the government just makes things better!  This book is an excellent tool to use in classrooms learning about the functions of  government, particularly the legislative branch, and the dog telling the story makes it delightful. 

The story begins with an introduction to Washington D.C. with whimsical illustrations of the nation's capital crafted by David Small.  Splash, Kennedy's Portuguese Water Dog,  tells us, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."  And that is what Kennedy does.  After driving to a farm in Virginia and picking out the perfect pup, the family journeys back to D.C., where Splash takes us through a typical day in the life of a senator.  Get up early, read the paper.  Go to work, write an education bill.  Debate with the House of Representatives, make education better for everyone!  Of course, there is playtime and lunchtime and more thorough explanation of how things work, but this is truly the first book that I have read that explains the functions of government that I truly enjoyed! 

Told from the perspective of a dog, this book is more relatable for children than a textbook.  It's told in an engaging, affable manner and still relays the functions of government effectively.  Illustrations of PEOPLE in the Senate and House of Representatives bring these two groups to life for children.  I love how the illustrator includes pictures of the Capital Building, the Washington Monument, the White House, and other famous monuments in D.C.  Because of this inclusion, My Senator and Me is not only a helpful supplement when learning about the three branches of government but also reliable for showing and discussing important landmarks in our nation's capital.  

My only complaint about this book is how the author glorifies Portuguese Water Dogs.  I am sure that there are many shelters in Washington, D.C. housing hundreds of dogs in need of love and affection that are less likely to be adopted than a highly-prasied breed.  As a leader in our country, I wish that Edward Kennedy had considered this option and opted not to look for the "perfect dog" but to look for a dog in need of a  good home!  It has been said that judging a dog by its breed is like judging a human by the color of his skin.  All dogs have  unique personalities, and all dogs should be celebrated!  I also felt such sadness for the dog that "sat alone" when Edward and his family went in search of this "perfect dog."  When I got to adopt a puppy at the age of ten, I decided to choose the puppy that "sat alone" because she looked like she needed a friend.  She was the best friend I could have ever had!  

Besides that, I enjoyed reading My Senator and Me and would love it if more informational books were written in this personable manner.  If you'd like to check it out for yourself, visit your local library

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