I don't need a poll to tell me that Republicans and Democrats can agree on at least one topic this election year—we are all ready for it to be over. But despite your frustrations at the state of current campaigning, I know you will do your civic duty and vote on Tuesday, November 6. If you can sneak to the polls without your children, lucky you. But don't be dismayed if you have to drag the kids along with you. In 2008, when I was living in Charleston, SC, I stood in line for more than two hours with my four year-old and 22 month-old (and pregnant belly) to cast my vote. It was a long day, but it gave me plenty of time to think about the presidential election and how I could explain it to my children.
These last few days before our Presidential election provide a wonderful opportunity to explain the process to your kids. The following children's books forgo the confusing discussion of electoral colleges and hanging chads, focusing instead on the character traits our Presidents—and would-be Presidents—must possess to achieve as Commander in Chief:
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, recommended for preschool to grade 2: Tired of doing chores around the farm, ambitious Duck begins campaigning for Farmer Brown's job. Then he realizes the job is too frustrating. So he campaigns around the barnyard for governor. When he wins, he learns that being in charge is hard work. A humorous read for younger kids with lots of winks to contemporary politics for the adults.
Madam President by Lane Smith, recommended for kindergarten to grade 3: My kids really like this funny story about a girl who imagines that she is President. Less about the idea that a female could rise to such power (gasp!) and more about the funny decisions she makes (appointing Mr. Potato Head as the Secretary of Agriculture), this lighthearted story makes the executive office look fun.
So You Want to Be President by Judith St. George, audio by Stockard Channing, recommended for ages 8 and up (although my kids are younger and they enjoy it, too): This is a humorous, comprehensive book of facts about the men who have been president, from George Washington to George W. Bush. The author doesn't sugarcoat actions that have tarnished the presidency, admonishing Nixon and Clinton. The overall aim is to show how different our individual executive officers have been: from fat to skinny, from showboat to socially awkward, from war hero to brainiac, each President is different but they all share a common love for America. If you can find the audio version, Stockard Channing delivers a terrific narration.
Some other favorites are Grace for President and John, Paul, George & Ben.These books are available at the Louisville Free Public Library. Take the time to read about the 2012 election with your children; you might find yourself less frustrated and more motivated to vote on Tuesday.
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