With My Rifle by My Side: A Second Amendment Lesson by Kimberly Jo Simac is a book written in prose that teaches young people to appreciate and respect appropriate firearm use. With beautiful artwork from Donna Goeddaeus, the reader follows along a young boy’s fall journey of baiting his father’s hunting stands and a trip his family takes to Washington D.C. to learn all about our nation’s history.
While I believe this book teaches an excellent lesson, I fear it lacks focus. It seems the author tried to combine several elements: hunting, gun safety, the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, faith, military service, and the right to protect one’s family. As a child, what do I focus on? It’s probable that these elements are all interwoven, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to jam them all into one short book.
My other concern is the book’s targeted market. Based upon the prose and chosen text style, I’m thinking With My Rifle by My Side is meant for early readers. They could be confused by the multiple elements of the story. Amazon.com lists the age of this book as being for 9 – 12 year olds (they made a mistake on the market for my book, slating it as for 9 – 12, when it’s most definitely 4 – 8), but I believe Simac’s book is too simple for older readers.
I applaud the author’s efforts because our Second Amendment rights is a challenging lesson to share. Families who have hunted and owned guns for generations would enjoy sharing this book with their children. I like that the author is quick to mention gun safety, and that there is an Appendix at the end for parents and grandparents that discusses gun safety, details the Second Amendment, and includes a note from the publisher, along with information about the author and illustrator. With My Rifle by My Side was featured on the Glen Beck Show.