We ate candy in one of the justice’s offices. We looked down the secret spiral staircase. We shot baskets in the upstairs gym. We sat in the courtroom. We ran around the library–only because no one else was there. And Maddy, Owen, and Cora would have drained a hard-working justice’s water cooler had we let them.
Really, my children are waaaay too young to understand the importance of our visit today, but my husband and I sure did, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.
One thing that helped my kids to begin to wrap their little heads around the importance of this building, however, is a fantastic book–Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse–given to them by their aunt and uncle. And I would recommend that anyone who’s planning a trip to Washington, DC consider grabbing a few of these books to help their kiddos learn about what they’ll see while they’re here.
- Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse: Written by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes, this book follows Chief Justice Marshall and his fellow justices on the Supreme Court of the United Mice of America. Chief Marshall has to lead his fellow justices in deciding whether or not to uphold a law about the freedom mice have to choose what type of cheese they want to eat on a given day.
The rhyming, poetic text is written at a level that even younger readers can understand, despite the seemingly heavy topic. It’s light, it’s fun, and Maddy and Owen love this book because the story is interesting and the pictures are simply–incredible. They’re detailed and are more true-to-life than I imagined, okay–minus the fact that the characters are all mice. The buildings, the architecture, the rooms–were really well done.
Today, our incredibly smart tour guide had the foresight to bring the book with us so that the kids could compare the room they were standing in to the room the mice were in in the book. I’m sure they’ll never look at the book the same after today. How could they?
More fun in the library. . .
The authors of this book have written several others that children can use to learn about history and the government. We have House Mouse, Senate Mouse, and it really is a refreshing way of teaching children how a bill becomes a law and the roles of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Oddly enough, many, many years ago when I was on Nantucket, I bought Nat, Nat the Nantucket Cat–just because I loved children’s books even then and because it was such a beautiful book. It was one of the authors’ first books, and from that point on, this husband and wife team founded VPS Books, whose mission is to “teach children about history, civics, special places and architectural heritage through fun, entertaining and quality picture books.” I love it.
And that’s our bit of learning for the day–unusual, exciting, and more cool than my kiddos will realize for a long, long time.