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Education Reporter

Founders' Fables: Ten Tales for Future Patriots, Laurie Cockerell, Kinderfable Press 2010, 48 pages, $10. Laurie Cockerell believes many families want to instill a love for America and an appreciation for the principles our nation was founded upon. When she realized that there are very few books that are truly aimed at the elementary student's interests and abilities, she decided to do something about it.

The former elementary educator used her background and knowledge of what kinds of characters and language appeal to young children to write Founders' Fables: Ten Tales for Future Patriots. The book is a collection of ten original fables that introduces kids to the values of America's Founding Fathers and the principles of limited government in an easy-to-understand, age-appropriate way.

Each story is introduced with a quote from a Founding Father. Then the fun begins with rhyming stories and humorous illustrations that will engage and amuse both younger and older readers.

For instance, all the ladies in town enjoy buying bonnets in Holly the hippo's lovely hat store. But Holly has to sell the shop because the mayor sets a silly new rule for every shop. In another tale, a council of ducks hires the beavers to build a water park. The problem is that the ducks can't pay for it all, so they leave years of payments to future generations of ducklings who never get to enjoy the now-worn-out slides and flipping rides. Later in the book, Joe the monkey may have to tear down his perfect tree house because other monkeys swinging through the vines think his house is in their way.

With these and other whimsical stories, Cockerell illustrates conservative American values often assumed too complicated for children. She tackles national debt, eminent domain, self-reliance, government intervention, and free speech.

Each fable is followed by a suggested art project and two short sets of questions, one for younger children and another for older readers. The questions and activities offer opportunities for deeper learning and conversations between children and parents or grandparents.

The illustrations and rhymes of the fables are best suited to 5- to 12-year-olds, but some of the questions for older children may spark fruitful conversations among teens and adults.

You can download a sample chapter for free at www.foundersfables.com. The website also offers a list of a dozen family activities that encourage more learning about the Founding Fathers.

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