Monday, August 16, 2010

With My Rifle by My Side

For parents who cherish the Second Amendment, With My Rifle by My Side is a very good introduction to the topic. In fact, it's the only picture book available to help parents or teachers broach the topic with kids. Written by Kimberly Jo Simac and illustrated by Donna Goeddaeus, the book is dedicated "to all who believe in freedom."

In this attractive hardback book, we see a boy and girl baiting their father's hunting stands, a boy having target practice with Dad, kids going to Washington D.C. to learn about the Founders and U.S. history, and a family praying and giving thanks to God "for our food and the gift of every day" and "for an America that is safe and strong in heart." Gun safety is stressed, and guns are shown primarily as a part of autumn hunting. In addition, one illustration shows early Americans (dressed in Daniel Boone style buckskins) holding their guns, alongside this text:
"The Founding Fathers trusted God
for the rules they would make.
They warned us of decisions
that could lead us all astray.
They said it's our privilege,
responsibility, and right,
to own our own guns,
and be ready to fight."
Another page shows a boy looking at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, while the text talks about how Americans "with their rifles by their sides" protected our "right to be free."

The book ends:
"With respect and safety,
I'll keep my rifle by my side.
I will honor and remember
all those who fought and died.
I will always love America;
it is a part of me.
And I will always be prepared
to protect my family."
The last six pages of the book include excellent gun safety rules for parents to teach their children, a list of useful organizations or gun programs, the text of the Second Amendment, and quotes from the Founders (including Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton) elaborating on the Second Amendment.

What I Like: Sadly, not all schools teach the Constitution - and not every teacher teaches a traditional view of the Second Amendment. That's why a book like With My Rifle by My Side is so needed, offering parents an easy way to give children an awareness of their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The latter section of this picture book, with quotes from the Founders, is especially useful for parents who believe as all Americans believed until the 20th century - that the Founders meant the Second Amendment to be about individuals, not government-organized military.

I also appreciate how Simac's book handles topics like respect, safety, obtaining a true understanding of U.S. history, and trusting in God. Goeddaeus' soft illustrations are also a great addition to this book. They are soft and filled with the rich hues of autumn.
What I Dislike:
The picture book portion of this book never talks about the Second Amendment - although the last few pages of the book certainly give parents the tools they need to teach their kids about it. Also, those who don't hunt may have a harder time relating to this book - and there isn't a single image of a woman or girl handling a gun, which seems odd.

Overall Rating: Given that there's no other picture book on this topic, I give this book a rating of Very Good.

Age Appeal: The publisher doesn't have a recommendation, but I'd say 4 - 8.

Publishing Info: Nordskog Publishing, 2010; ISBN: 978-0982707449; hardback, $18.95

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Special Info: For a peek at some of the illustrations in this book, visit the publisher's website.

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