Constitution 101: US Press Secretary Simplifies Constitution for Kids

Washington – In May 2002, a nationwide survey found that a shocking number of voting age Americans have serious misconceptions about the Constitution. In September, President Bush launched “We the People,” an initiative to encourage the education of United States history. On October 1, the House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing the importance of history and civics in a child’s curriculum. Now that the nation has just elected a new Congress, there seems to be a sense of urgency to educate young people about the government.

Cathy Travis, Press Secretary to Congressman Solomon Ortiz, has created Constitution Translated for Kids (Oakwood Publishing, April 2002, ISBN# 1-59165-000-3, $12.95) in order to educate this nation’s children on what all those big words in the Constitution really mean. The Constitution is a profoundly simple text that established our government and communicates our rights, however, few people have read it and even fewer understand it.

“Whoever you talk to today, whatever you write about tomorrow. . . .if you went to church on Sunday or not, the freedom to do that is brought to you by the First Amendment. . . . and that’s just one line out of the thing,” Travis remarks, “but if Americans don’t understand and exercise these rights, they can’t be protected by them.”

In this first ever side-by-side, line-by-line translation of the 4,440 words of the Constitution, Travis offers a seamless translation into plain English for children and adults alike. On the left-hand-side of the page is the original, 1787 version of the Constitution. On the right-hand-side, Travis translates the awkward wording into a simple, easy-to-understand rendition that discards all of the whereases, shalls, and thereins.

The idea for the book was sparked while Travis was following the 1992 presidential election.

“So many times I heard, ‘This is constitutional, that’s unconstitutional’, and they were almost always wrong,” says Travis. “Which made me think, ‘if somebody could just re-write it on a 5th grade level. . . .’”

Travis includes exercises, proposed amendments and a glossary so the reader can walk away with a solid grasp of the basic principles this nation was founded on. Travis has also created a separate, 35-page workbook for teachers and parents to use in accompaniment to Constitution Translated for Kids.

“The ideas in the Constitution are still entirely who we are in this nation,” says Travis. “It overshadows the identity of gender, ethnicity, geography, religion, wealth, national origin and individual takes on our fundamental ideas.”

Throughout her years on Capitol Hill, Travis has developed a wide range of political expertise. But when it came to translating the Constitution, she believes her role as an American was as valuable as her experience on The Hill. It took her three months to translate the document, before and after work and on the weekends.

“A lot of it is common sense,” says Travis. “It’s just a matter of language and making the hard stuff sound simple, which is part of what I do every day.”

Travis resides in Washington D.C. where she has worked on Capitol Hill for 20 years. She graduated with a BS in journalism with a specialization in political science from Arkansas State University. After college, she went to work for Congressman Bill Alexander and spent time working on the floor of the House of Representatives.

For the past 12 years, she has worked as an aide for Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) writing speeches and press releases, and serving as legislative assistant, communications director and intern coordinator. Her legislative work focuses on public policy pertaining to the arts, science, and technology.

Constitution Translated for Kids is currently available through either or Oakwood Publishing.

To schedule an interview with Cathy Travis, author of Constitution Translated For Kids, or to request a media review copy, please contact Jennifer Berry of Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists at (512) 478-2028 or

(This article courtesy of Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists.)

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