Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | November 5, 2012

Books for Election Day

Tuesday is election day and, whatever your political leanings may be, it is important for all of us to get out and vote. Many people have already done early voting, but I’m still a fan of going the actual day. This year, I thought it would be nice to take my 5 year old with me so that she can get a sense of what voting is and why we do it. A presidential election is so much bigger then an off year race, so I was hoping to get her excited in the process. What I didn’t expect is how great some of the picture books out there are and how she would really be able to grasp what I was talking about. We started reading them a few days ago and my daughter is comprehending the voting process and why we each need to vote and a little bit about what the president does. We are going to let her watch some of the returns on Tuesday as we root for our candidate. It is exciting to watch her grasp these concepts and it definitely makes me feel good as a parent to be helping educate her on such an important topic.

I know that I am always looking for ways to find decent books on a given topic. So with that in mind, I have compiled a list of some of the books that we have found that are great for kids from about kindergarten to second or third grade. I hope you enjoy some of these too!

Vote! By Eileen Christelow– This book is a really accessible book about the voting process and probably the one that we have learned the most from. The story is of a young girl whose mother decides to run for Mayor. The book follows the action from political rallies, fund-raisers, and debates through the election, ending with the losing candidate requesting a recount. Along the way it asks and answers a number of important questions: What is voting? Why doesn’t everyone vote? Who decided who can vote? The book touches on getting involved in political campaigns and how you can’t always trust what you hear on television as many political ads can be misleading. This book is the one that really got my daughter interested, talking and asking questions. I especially appreciate the fact that it brings topics down to a level that kids can really understand. There are two little dogs that explain some of the harder concepts and get right to the heart of it when they say that “if people don’t vote, they’re letting everyone else decide for them!”

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio – In this book, young Grace Campbell was shown a poster of all of the American presidents and instantly noticed that there were no women pictured. She tells her teacher that she would like to run for President and her teacher decides that their school should have their very own election and that way the two classes in the story can learn about elections. The book focuses on the impact of the electoral college with each child representing a different state and having a different number of votes. When the little boy running for president realizes that it is a boys versus girls election, he rests on his assumption that he will win with no contest. The surprise comes when one boy casts his state’s votes for Grace at the very end because he “thought [she was] the best person for the job.” It is a great resource to try and explain the electoral college and has an author’s note at the end breaking the electoral college down even further. I laughed over the fact that the author mentioned that many adults have a difficult time comprehending the electoral college. The other incredibly valuable lesson is that it gets little girls thinking about the reality that there has not yet been a woman president but that there can and should be one soon.

If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier – This selection, like Vote!, talks about the actual running for office, but on a more presidential level instead of the local level. Where this book shines is breaking down the process of making the decision to run for president, the primary and caucus process, conventions and delegates. Children are introduced to the idea political parties and party platforms in a fun way that also encourages them to consider politics themselves one day.

My Teacher for President by Kay Winters – This charming book takes the focus away from the election process and onto characteristics often found in a president. When a young boy sees that elections are around the corner he writes to his local television station explaining all of the reasons that his teacher would be great in the job of president – she likes white houses, she’s used to being followed everywhere, she goes to lots of meetings, and when she walks into a room people pay attention to her. It brings the role of a president down to a slightly more accessible level for kids.

Today on Election Day by Catherine Stier – In this book, six young kids know all about election day when their school is taken over as a polling place. Rather than looking at the run for president, this book talks about the voting process itself and the myriad of jobs that we elect people into. The book explains how citizens eighteen and older can vote by secret ballot, what happens when a person goes into the polls, some of the officials who must be elected and a brief history of elections. What is wonderful about this book is that it highlights the fact that active engagement in the political process is the way to truly tap into the possibilities of the political system.

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