Top Ten Children’s Books about Presidents and Politics by Rachel Ruiz
Before I worked for President Barack Obama on his re-election campaign in 2012, I never gave much thought to how or what kids think about politics and presidents. It was my then three-year old daughter that changed my mind. She peppered me with questions like What’s the president’s favorite color? Is he allergic to peanut butter? When she came to campaign headquarters to visit, her first question was Where’s the president and when can I meet him? Even at her young age, while she had no true concept of what the President of the United States is or does, she had some sense that it was special, maybe even important. Though she had no real idea of what an election is, she knew it involved some kind of contest and there would be a winner.
We are in the midst of another election year and try as we may to shield our kids from the news, it’s hard to escape the deluge of campaign coverage on the airwaves.
My daughter, now six, is again asking questions. If other kids her age are anything like her, I’m guessing they’re asking questions too.
Before I wrote my book, When Penny Met POTUS, I researched the topic of presidents and politics in children’s books. I was incredibly inspired by several on the subject, each entertaining and educational in their own way.
Here are 10 favorites in children’s books about presidents and politics.
Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham
“Where are the girls?” When Grace learns there’s never been a female president in the U.S., she makes it her mission to be the first. Her teacher arranges a mock election and Grace runs against her classmate Tom, while each of their remaining classmates represents a state. A fun introduction to the electoral system, while kids also learn the value of hard work and independent thinking.
Madam President by Lane Smith
A little girl imagines what her day would be like if she were Madam President. Her first executive order is for waffles, of course. Next, she negotiates a treaty between a cat and dog; Mr. Potato Head is the Secretary of Agriculture, obviously. Though tongue-in-cheek, kids just may come away with some knowledge about presidential duties.
If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier and illustrated by Lynne Avril
Six children each take turns explaining the election process as if they were running for president. They discuss their decision to run, debates, meeting the public, voting and being sworn in on Inauguration Day. Kids will come away with a basic understanding of the election process.
Abe Lincoln’s Dream by Lane Smith
While on a tour of the White House, Quincy gets separated from her school group and spots the ghost of Abraham Lincoln standing over the Gettysburg Address. Quincy and Lincoln embark on a cross-country journey, while she updates the president on our nation’s progress since 1865. A touching story with beautiful and dreamlike illustrations.
I am Abraham Lincoln (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this book, one in a series about America’s heroic icons. This volume follows Abraham Lincoln from childhood to the presidency, including the Civil War and his legendary Gettysburg Address. Meltzer’s engaging series is a great way to bring American history to life for children, and inspire them to be heroes in their own way.
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Duck is tired of doing his chores — mowing the lawn and grinding the coffee beans so he decides to hold an election to replace his boss, Farmer Brown. Humorous text and illustrations for kids and adults alike, this is an entertaining crash course in the electoral process.
Max for President by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
When their teacher announces that it is time to elect a new class president, Max and Kelly both decide to run. After the ballots are counted and Kelly wins, she chooses Max to be her vice president, showing children that the president can’t do the job alone. A simple and fun overview of how campaigns and elections work.
The Election by Eleanor Levenson and illustrated by Marek Jagucki
Alex’s family backs the party whose posters have stripes on them. Evie’s family backs the party whose posters have spots on them. Which party will win? Will the two remain friends? While not a book about U.S. politics (this story takes place in the U.K.), an excellent story with beautiful illustrations that introduces kids to politics and the importance of elections.
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama and illustrated by Loren Long
In a beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama gives a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes in his own children, and within all of America’s children.
When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz and illustrated by Melissa Manwill
Penny’s mom works for a boss named POTUS. POTUS? What kind of name is POTUS? Penny doesn’t know who or what POTUS is and her imagination runs wild! When she goes to work with her mom, she is determined to meet this mysterious POTUS and sets out through the White House corridors to find him. She and readers are in for a big surprise!
After working for President Obama in 2012, Rachel Ruiz was inspired to write her first children’s book, When Penny Met POTUS, which will be released July, 2016. Rachel is a veteran TV writer and producer, most recently for Oprah Winfrey. She lives in Chicago with her husband and their daughter. Click here for more info: https://www.facebook.com/whenpennymetpotus/info?tab=page_info
Watch the book trailer at http://www.capstonepub.com/consumer/videos/when-penny-met-potus/
Such a great list! Love the trailer for WHEN PENNY MEETS POTUS! Enjoy your launch😊
This is a great list. It will be very helpful as I plan for our election unit in November! I recently read Bad Kitty for President which was written 4 years ago but has a lot of things that ring true for this election. They are debating whether or not to let the stray cats stay and everything.
Thank you for this list! To add some fiction, in my teenage years I adored Ellen Emerson White’s series that starts with ‘The President’s Daughter’ about the daughter of a female president, and I think they’re being re-released…
As a Canadian, I remember being just as confused as Penny when trying to figure out what the heck POTUS meant! Now that we have a more photogenic PM, who knows, maybe we’ll get out own prime minister picture books one day – “Pete rencontre le premier ministre / Pete meets the prime minister”! 😉
Another fabulous fun read aloud to add to this list is Paul Czajak’s newest in his monter & me series, Monster Needs Your Vote. Wonderful election vocabulary and message about running for president.
All the best to your continued success.
Fabulous read. Interesting expressions. I loved the emotion.
A great list! It’s important for kids to know these things! 🙂
What age group are these books written for