Election seasons are good opportunities for conversations about democracy and politics with your children. As your family talks about the upcoming election, consider children's books that answer questions about a complicated process, provide open discussion about the importance of voting, or offer a light-hearted look at the office of the President. Here are a few suggestions for your family :
So You Want to be President, by Judith St. George, was the 2001 Caldecott Winner, with watercolor illustrations by David Small. This book has been updated and revised several times and includes information about each president, accompanied by Small’s wonderful artwork. All ages.
Our White House: Looking In Looking Out. This anthology of fiction and nonfiction by 108 outstanding children’s book authors and illustrators, is a collection of fascinating stories and facts about the White House and its occupants. All ages.
When Penny Met POTUS, by Rachel Ruiz, is the story of Penny, who does not know what POTUS means and is surprised when she finds out that the POTUS is her mother. Ages 5-8.
Bad Kitty for President, by Nick Bruel, tells the tale of the Neighborhood Cat Club election, when Bad Kitty decides to run for president. In usual Bad Kitty style, his naughty antics create trouble, but all ends well. Ages 5-8.
If I Were President, by Catherine Stier, is from the perspective of children who take a realistic look at the job of the president, including moving into a new, public house, lighting the national Christmas Tree, and being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This book shows the expansive job in a child-friendly way. Ages 5-8.
Duck For President, by Doreen Cronin, will appeal to fans of the characters on the farm in Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type. Duck is back and tired of farm work so he decides to hold an election so he can be in charge of the farmyard. When that plan backfires, he decides to run for governor, then president. Ages 5-8.
Madame President, by Lane Smith, is written with Smith’s characteristic wit and his hilarious illustrations. A young girl imagines what her day might be like as President. She would have orders to give, babies to kiss, and tuna casserole to veto. Ages 5-8.
The Day Gogo Went to Vote, by Elinor Sisulu, is the story of the day Thembi accompanies her 100 year-old great-grandmother, Gogo, to the first all-race elections in South Africa. This Simon Wiesenthal Center Children’s Book Award winner helps children understand the importance of the electoral process as Gogo anxiously votes for the first time in her life. Ages 5 - 8
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, by Mac Barnett, is a funny story about the day President Taft supposedly got stuck in his bathtub and his cabinet members were unable to help him out. Chris Van Dusen’s comic illustrations add to Barnett’s witty writing. The book concludes with a photo of Taft’s custom-built White House tub and presents facts pertaining to the president and his numerous commissioned bathtubs. Ages 5-11.
Vote!, by Eileen Christelow, tells the story of a local campaign and election, mostly through comic book style illustrations. This nonfiction book covers general information about elections to public office and the end papers feature bonus information such as election facts, games and activities. Ages 7-11.
Vote, by Philip Steele, is from the popular DK Eyewitness Series. This book provides a global look at democracies and elections. Steele writes about elections around the world, why people vote, party politics, election day struggles and protests, and systems of democracy. While only a brief overview of these important topics, it can be a good springboard for discussion. Ages 7-14.
With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote, by Ann Bausum, covers the time period from 1913-1920, the final years in the struggle for women’s right to vote. Published by National Geographic, the book contains many historical photographs, a timeline and profiles of a dozen women who championed women’s voting rights. Ages 8-14.
Our Country’s Presidents, by Ann Bausum, is another excellent offering from National Geographic, and includes several pages about each president. The book, which is a collective biography, is organized into six historical periods, each with a timeline. Ages 8-14.
See How they Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House, by Susan Goodman, is a fact-filled look at US elections from the formation of political parties to contemporary voting issues, with archival photos from the Library of Congress, cartoons, and informative sidebars. Ages 8-14.
Enjoy these timely books with your family in the coming weeks. You may also consider visiting websites that talk about the elections. Many kid-friendly sites exist which offer games, information and fun facts about the election process. Books and websites can be bridges for important conversations in your family about how to vote responsibly, identify leadership qualities and characteristics, and how to become more informed citizens.