Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sharing about the presidential election (ages 6 - 11)

Are you talking about the presidential election with your children? How do you share about these grownup debates with kids? I try to convey the importance of the country's decision, how we all have a part to play. It's also important to introduce some of the basic terms of the election process with kids. After all, they hear grown ups talking about it all the time.

Here are three favorite books to share that help inform kids about what's going on:
If I Ran for President
by Catherine Stier
illustrated by Lynne Avril
IL: Albert Whitman, 2007
ages 6 - 9
available on Amazon and at your local library
What would it be like to run for president? I enjoyed sharing this book with students, helping them imagine what it would be like to be a candidate. The pictures show all sorts of kids asking questions like, "Am I the best person for the job? Am I ready to work VERY, VERY, VERY hard for my country? Do lots of people believe in me, and will they help me run for office?” My students appreciated Avril's multicultural cast of kids. Stier writes in a fun, personal way while integrating some key election terms ranging from primaries and caucuses to the Electoral College and presidential debates.
Grace for President
by Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
NY: Disney / Hyperion, 2008
ages 6 - 10
available on Amazon and at your local library
One morning, Mrs. Barrington shows her class pictures of the presidents. Grace, a lively African American girl, asks her teacher, "Where are the girls?" Grace is stunned when she finds out that no girls have ever been elected president. Not one to take things sitting down, Grace declares, "I've been thinking it over, and I'd like to be president!" Mrs. Barrington seizes on this idea and hold a school election, with each student voting in the Electoral College for a different state. Pham's illustrations are full of joy, energy and emotions. Kids love the division of kids along gender lines. While Grace is African American, race is never an issue. This is a fun story kids love to read again and again.
Madam President:
The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics
by Catherine Thimmesh
illustrated by Douglas B. Jones
MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2004
revised and reissued, 2008
ages 8 - 11
available on Amazon and at your local library
With a great combination of facts, humor and pizazz, Catherine Thimmesh shares short two-page profiles on dozens of women who have made their mark, "a lasting footprint-whether it be pointy-toed and spike-heeled or rubber-soled and loosely laced-on the very bedrock of America" and the world. Starting with first ladies who found ways to influence and shape political policies and the nation's discourse, Thimmesh shows young readers how these women affected the world around them. She balances the information and humor perfectly, providing background context, interesting details, and primary source quotations without ever sounding like a textbook. Originally published in 2004, this revised 2008 edition has updated information on Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Condoleezza Rice.

If you're looking for fun, you've got to turn to our favorite comic book hero: Babymouse!
Babymouse for President
by Jennifer L. Holm
illustrated by Matthew Holm
NY: Random House, 2012
ages 8 - 11
available from Amazon or your local library
Kids at our school library love, love, love Babymouse. So this is a natural to share at this time of year. Babymouse decides she's going to run for student council president, going up against her arch-nemesis Felicia Furrypaws and even her own locker! Life is never smooth sailing for Babymouse (Typical!), and this election is no different. When Felicia promises that kids will have an ice cream sundae at school every day, Babymouse wonders how much she can promise. Holm introduces a few elements of campaigning, but keeps the emphasis on school humor and elections. If you've got Babymouse friends in your house, head over to the great Babymouse Website to check out the election coverage! There are campaign videos and online voting - very fun!

I haven't gotten a chance to see Michael Townsend's Where Do Presidents Come From? My students have had great fun reading his wacky take on the Greek myths in comic book form in Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunder. The publisher's description of this new book says, "It's full of insanely weird facts about our leaders (Did you know that President Coolidge had a pet pygmy hippo named Billy?), as well as the history and powers of the presidency, day-to-day life, and pros and cons of the job." Sounds like more wacky fun that my 4th and 5th graders will eat up!

The review copies for all of these came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. Vote for Me by Ben Clanton is funny and representative of at least three parties.

  2. Vote for Me looks like a fun addition to this collection. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the list! My twins are a little younger (almost 5), but one or two of these books might help us explain the election. When I told one of my daughters that the president "runs the country with help from a lot of people" and then asked if she wanted to be president someday, she replied, "No, it would make me tired. Running is a lot of exercise." So, needless to say, I haven't quite gotten the idea across! A book might be more effective.