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Vote 2016

Civics-Savvy Reads: Kid-Friendly Books on U.S. Elections and Government

October 21, 2016

Election season can be a messy and confusing time for adults and children alike, but it also gives us a glimpse into the fascinating process that underpins the United States government. Children are naturally captivated by what they see and hear around them, which leads to questions upon questions — some of which, admittedly, might not have a clear answer! Take a look at some of these books to start (or, perhaps, continue) the discussion with your child about the U.S. election process and civic engagement.

Duck for President

Written by Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Recommended for ages 4+

Elections don’t only happen on Pennsylvania Avenue, they happen in elementary schools, towns, cities, states — and even on farms, as in Doreen Cronin’s Duck for President. Duck tires of his mundane chores at the farm and decides to challenge Farmer Brown for a place at the top. His aspirations continue to grow and he decides to move on to becoming governor and, eventually, POTUS. Readers will enjoy learning the basics of the election process alongside silly, yet ambitious, Duck as he waddles toward the Oval Office. 

Grace for President

Written by Kelly DiPucchuio
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Recommended for ages 5+

Realizing that there has not yet been a female U.S. president, Grace charts a course for school president in Kelly DiPucchio’s Grace for President. In order to prepare herself for when she runs for commander-in-chief, Grace must successfully launch a campaign and win the office against a daunting opponent — who just happens to be the all-around smartest and most athletic boy in school. This story can serve as a great discussion-starter about the U.S. election process in a relatable way for kids. Consider pairing it with a nonfiction picture book, Catherine Stier’s If I Ran for President, for a similar approach with even more facts (ages 5+)!

Lillian’s Right to Vote

By Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans
Recommended for Ages 5+

Published just last year, Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter, is a superb picture book that portrays Lillian, a 100-year-old African-American woman, taking a steep walk up a hill to cast her first vote. Historical imagery surrounds her as she makes her momentous journey, providing the rich civil rights context that both brought her to this moment and prevented her from having it earlier. This story is a wonderful introduction to the concept that casting your vote is precious and hard-earned.

Friends for Freedom

By Suzanne Slade
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
Recommended for ages 5+

Friends for Freedom, written by Suzanne Slade, is a historical picture book that describes the friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, who were brought together by their belief that every American citizen should have the right to vote. This story beautifully showcases their unwavering mutual respect, despite the outright hatred they faced as a pair and the disappointments they faced as individuals. Rather than dividing them and destroying their friendship, these hardships only served to strengthen their commitment to a democracy for all and their esteem for one another. This little piece of history is a reminder that respect can still exist, though two friends may disagree.

The Art of the Possible: An Everyday Guide to Politics 

By Edward Keenan
Art by Julie M'Laughlin
Recommended for ages 8+

For older kids who want to know a little more about politicians, campaigns and elections from the local level on up, take a look at The Art of the Possible: An Everyday Guide to Politics by Edward Keenan. In this very upbeat introduction to U.S. politics, kids are asked to see themselves as politicians, too! The short chapters and charming illustrations provide easy access to some difficult topics, encouraging children to become active and informed citizens early in life.  

Presidential Politics by the Numbers 

by Mary Hertz Scarbrough
Recommended for ages 7+

A Timeline of Presidential Elections

By Barbara Krasner
Recommended for ages 7+

Check out Presidential Politics by the Numbers by Mary Hertz Scarbrough and A Timeline of Presidential Elections by Barbara Krasner for two recently published overviews of the presidency from the very beginning. Graphically appealing and filled to the brim with quick facts, both books are perfect for all the little future candidates in your life who are aching for statistics, profiles and little-known details about our presidents (ages 7+).