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A Beginner's Guide to Freedom of Speech (and The First Amendment)

by Jessica Bohrer & Sandy Bohrer ; illustrated by Jane Sanders

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-947951-27-3
Publisher: City Point Press/Simon & Schuster

An enthusiastic invitation to understand and use our constitutional right to speak out.

Gliding silently over the real-world fact that First Amendment rights apply to minors only in qualified ways, two legal experts who specialize in defending journalists blithely assure young readers in rhyme that they are not only “free to be quiet and free to be LOUD,” but also to pray where they will, to “sign your name to a letter,” to march in protest, to join groups (or not), and to “talk and debate about people in power.” Many will note that a claim that “Freedom belongs to all—even when what we hear sounds icky” leaves an open door for bullying and even unprotected hate speech. (Christy Mihaly and Manu Montoya’s otherwise more nuanced and perceptive Free for You and Me, 2020, similarly overlooks this potential violation of equal protection under the law.) The illustrations collage together a small smiley-face character with arms and a tail with photos of bright-faced, diverse children posing in tights and capes and such iconic First Amendment images as protest marches and the Bill of Rights and other founding documents. They are more decorative than demonstrative, and the closing historical note is not only nearly illegible, being printed in tiny dark type on a blue background, but includes at least one defunct URL.

Worthy intentions squandered on simplistic exhortations.

(Informational picture book. 6-8)