The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine: An Interactive Adaptation for All Ages
Mark Wilensky
Savas Beatie, LLC (2008)
ISBN 9781932714364
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 11) for Reader Views (11/08)


“The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine” by Mark Wilensky is a kid-friendly book about Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense” and the situation of the colonies at that time. The author’s goal is to teach kids about history without condemning them to picking through the lengthy and archaic language of the original text without really understanding it.  He breaks down the original document section by section so that it is easier to understand.

Thomas Paine wrote “Common Sense” to convince the colonists to turn against the king and become independent.  He also tried to prove to them that they could win a war against England.

The first hundred pages of this book provide biographical information about Thomas Paine and summarize “Common Sense.”  It also includes information on coinage and some of the petitions against and from the king.  At the end of each chapter the author summarizes the main points of that chapter.  The next fifty pages are classroom activities.  The last quarter of the book is the original text of “Common Sense.”  This book also gives the reader access to more information online.

I would recommend “The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine” by Mark Wilensky to history teachers because it includes a lot of classroom activities.  The book is easy to read and provides definitions throughout, but I don’t think most kids would find it very entertaining or fun reading.  The book was interesting and I think that people who want to learn more about the colonies and other historic events of that time may enjoy reading this book.

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