RECOMMENDED BY READING PARTNERS
With the Presidential Election around the corner, parents are struggling with how to talk to younger children about it all on a relatable level. Reading Partners, an early literacy nonprofit, has curated a book list for parents to start an engaging and entertaining democracy dialogue with their children.
As part of their #RiseUpForReading2020 campaign, the book list below is designed to spark conversations about democracy and inspire young ones to learn about civic engagement, to allay any confusion—and even fear—around what has been a year of uncertainties.
This reSource is one of many that Reading Partners has rolled out mobilizing for elementary school students in under-resourced schools reading below grade level. A number of free, virtual, and even text-rich programs are available via Reading Partners Connects to all students across the nation to help bridge the opportunity gap. I hope you enjoy the recommendations.
BOOKS ABOUT CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio:
The main character, Grace, is shocked that there has never been a woman president. She decides to enter the school election. Readers are exposed to responsible campaigning practices, election conventions, the electoral college, and voting. In the end, Grace wins the election!
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin:
Duck wants to make a change on his farm, so he hosts an election. Once he wins, he sees the work is hard. In an effort to improve work for the “boss” of the farm, he runs for mayor to make bigger changes. Again he wins, and again he learns leading is even harder at this level. And so it goes until he is president and learns a true appreciation for how much work goes into being a leader.
What’s the Big Deal About Elections by Rubi Shamir:
A great informational text that shares fun and important facts about elections at a digestible level. Think; everything from why elections are held on certain days, who was able to vote and when, and the formation of political parties.
Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter:
This book is a historical account of the struggles of African Americans throughout history, celebrating the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Readers learn about the different policies in place that kept their vote silenced through discrimination and tests. Follow 100-year-old Lillian on her walk to the ballot box as she votes for the very first time.
If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier:
This book dives into what it takes to be president including understanding all of the challenges facing the country and the people you represent. Your child will learn the vocabulary of the election process and understand the weight of responsibility for the president.
When You Grow Up to Vote by Eleanor Roosevelt:
Originally published in 1932, this book written by our late first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, explains what our elected officials do as well as each citizen’s role in a democracy. Updates by Michelle Markel and Grace Lin have been made in the rerelease to make it more inclusive through back matter and illustrations. The book also talks about all civil servant roles, not just elected officials. Firefighters, teachers, and garbage men are all highlighted and connected to why voting matters in their chosen field.
What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers:
In What Can a Citizen Do? Eggers explores what it means to be a citizen—that as a member of society we have a responsibility to be active and involved. Empowering messages about joining a cause, speaking up, or writing letters show how citizens have the chance to change the world.
Bold and Brave:
Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote by Kirsten Gillibrand:
This book introduces young readers to ten American women who worked tirelessly for women’s rights. It focuses on the work of bold, brave activists and suffragists across history and, ultimately, looks optimistically to the future.
So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George:
St. George’s book offers a historical look at the first 41 presidents of the United States. Readers will have fun looking at who they were personally as well as what they contributed to our national story.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS FROM GOOD READS WITH RONNA
LET’S CELEBRATE ELECTION DAY
Written by Barbara deRubertis
(Boyds Mills & Kane; $7.99, Ages 7-10)
Part of the Holidays & Heroes series bringing a greater understanding of U.S. holidays to young readers. “Enriched with illustrations, photographs, and other historical images.”
A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING
Written by Catherine Stier
Illustrated by Courtney Dawson
(Albert Whitman; $16.99, Ages 4-8)
A class election about an upcoming field trip helps the children in Callie’s class learn first hand about the importance of voting. A great introduction to why every vote counts.
SOFIA VALDEZ FUTURE PREZ
Written by Andrea Beaty
Illustrated by David Roberts
(Abrams BYR; $18.99, Ages 4-8)
This picture book highlights budding activist, Sofia Valdez, who’s determined to turn a dirty, dismal plot into a park. When she’s told she cannot, she perseveres proving it’s powerful to stand up for what you believe in. Also of interest is The Questioneers chapter book series including Sofia Valdez and the Vanishing Vote, a timely new read about a class election to choose a pet. “But when the votes are counted, there’s a tie, and one vote is missing. How will the class break the tie? And what happened to the vanishing vote? It’s up to Sofia Valdez and the Questioneers to restore democracy!“
THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE:
How One Woman’s Words Made History
Written by Elisa Boxer
Illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger
(Sleeping Bear Press; $16.99, Ages 6-10)
In August of 1920, if the Tennessee legislature approved it, the 19th amendment would be ratified, giving all American women the right to vote. One vote by Harry Burn could sway the election in women’s favor. And indeed that happened because of a powerful letter his mother, Febb Burn, had written him urging him to “Vote for suffrage and don’t forget to be a good boy.” The Voice That Won the Vote is the story of Febb, her son Harry, his tie-breaking vote, and the letter that gave all American women a voice and changed history.
LEADING THE WAY: Women in Power
Written by Senator Janet Howell and Theresa Howell
Illustrated by Kylie Akia and Alexandra Bye
(Candlewick Press; $24.99, Ages 10 and up)
In Leading the Way, readers meet some of the most influential leaders in America, including Jeannette Rankin, who, in 1916, became the first woman elected to Congress; Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court; and Bella Abzug, who famously declared, “This woman’s place is in the House . . . the House of Representatives!” This engaging and wide-ranging collection of biographies highlights the actions, struggles, and accomplishments of more than fifty of the most influential leaders in American political history—leaders who have stood up, blazed trails and led the way.
V IS FOR VOTING
Written by Kate Farrell
Illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald
(Henry Holt BYR; $18.99, Ages 3-6)
This modern and progressive approach uses the ABCs to highlight voting and social justice issues is for those who believe that every vote counts. V is For Voting is an ideal and easy way to convey the tenets of democracy to America’s future leaders.
A is for active participation.
B is for building a more equal nation.
C is for citizens’ rights and our duty.
D is for difference, our strength and our beauty.
I VOTED: Making a Choice to Make a Difference
Written by Mark Shulman
Illustrated by Serge Bloch
(Neal Porter Books; Ages 4-8)
The powerhouse pairing of Mark Shulman and Serge Bloch means readers will get an engaging look at why voting matters, offering a fun and meaningful perspective. “This nonpartisan book will help explain the concept of voting to the youngest readers.
I Voted explains the concept of choosing, individually, and as a group, from making a simple choice: “Which do you like better, apples or oranges?” to selecting a class pet, to even more complicated decisions, like electing community representatives.” Visit the publisher’s website for bonus material including an activity sheet, an educator’s guide and more.