My kids are all about Obama. Maybe it's that we listen to too much NPR, maybe it's that his name is fun to say. Either way, with their presidential interest, I wanted to make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce them to some past presidents and help them learn more about what the president actually does. Here are our top picks:
Madam President: This story focuses on the role of President by telling the story of a little girl imagining her day as future President. She issues an executive order to order her breakfast, while vetoing her school's hot lunch offerings. Throw in a few Secret Service agents and the need to handle a crisis (the state of her bedroom), and it really introduces the idea of what our President does.
Grace for President: When Grace discovers that there have been no female Presidents she instigates a school-wide election and enters herself. The book addresses some solid social issues as well as elucidating the workings of campaigns and elections. Of course, I still had to explain why there haven't been any female presidents!
If I Ran for President and If I Were President: These are most appropriate for school-aged kids. Rather than presenting the information in a story format, each provides its information in a narrative about campaigns and elections (the first), and the roles and responsibilities of the President (the latter). The information is presented very simply and was easy for my Kindergardener to understand, although some of the finer points would elicit more discussion from older school-aged kids. All in all, each was very worthwhile.
Make Your Mark, Franklin Roosevelt: I've always found FDR to be an interesting president, and we all appreciated how this book shows how he was shaped by his experiences and childhood to become the president that he was. The drawings are lovely and, although it was more appropriate for my Kindergartener, it also engaged my preschooler.
Meet George Washington: This biography traces the life of George Washington from childhood to his presidency and beyond. It is more straightforward than the Roosevelt book, but feels very appropriate for my preschooler and Kindergartener. They both came away with a number of interesting facts and a sense of who Washington really was (besides being the dude on the dollar bill :)
Abigail Adams: I picked this book up on a whim, not realizing what a fascinating person Abigail Adams was. The wife of one president and the mother of another, this book really illustrates the roles that women and first ladies played in bringing women to the point of equality that we enjoy today. It was a great opportunity to discuss why women haven't had the opportunity to be president (yet) while highlighting the roles that women have played in bringing the country to where it is today. A little stiff, but all in all, very worthwhile.
Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books: This is exactly what I was looking for. The illustrations are beautiful, the story is simple and uncluttered with just the right amount of detail and facts. The story follows Lincoln from his childhood in a log cabin to his life as president and illustrates well how he was able to advance in life through his own efforts, propelled by education. I particularly appreciated that the author illustrated Abe's efforts to follow his beliefs and do what he thought was right.
What are you doing to celebrate President's Day (we're planning some pretzel log cabins!)