Kiddosphere: Votes of Confidence: Great Books for Election Day
I have fond memories of Election Day from my childhood. I *think* schools were closed, because some were being used for polling places. We had the old-style machines that had the curtain and the knobs to push, which made it quite mysterious and dramatic when the vote was cast and the curtain would open. The very first elections in which I was eligible to vote included the governor’s race and the presidential race; I was a bit nervous that a) I might not be able to reach all the knobs and b) that I might do something wrong and mess up my ballot. My mother often worked the polls on Election Day; in those days, local candidates would stop by with doughnuts in the morning and Chinese takeout for lunch and we would get the leftovers (this was small-town Louisiana politics; eventually, the powers-that-be put an end to that practice). Since this was a small town outside of New Orleans, the likelihood of running into neighbors or friends at the polls was good. I still find Election Day to be very exciting, even though the doughnuts, Chinese takeout and the dramatic flourish of the curtain when my vote is cast are no more. If you’d like to impart the importance (and excitement!) of Election Day to your family, here are some fantastic choices available at our libraries:
Bad Kitty is one of my top favorite series; not only is it super funny, but the educational aspects of the situation with which Bad Kitty is dealing are imparted in creative and fun ways. Bad Kitty for President finds Bad Kitty running for president of the Neighborhood Cat Association; she soon finds out that politcking is not at all easy! As usual, Uncle Murray is on hand to explain the election process, including campaigning, absentee balloting, and the importance of registering to vote.
Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights is one of Russell Freedman’s many outstanding titles; the courage and determination of the civil rights advocates for voting rights is humbling and inspiring.
Fly Guy is one of our most popular easy reader series, so it was a no-brainer to add Fly Guy Presents: The White House to our collection. Fly Guy and his friend Buzz go on a very special field trip to the White House and learn about presidents. Funny and factual–a winning combination!
One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote: All About Voting was a (happily) total surprise; I didn’t expect it to be such an entertaining and wide-ranging look at our electoral process. The Cat in the Hat teaches readers about political parties (including third parties), why we vote in November, and how and why we vote.
Today on Election Day is an excellent read aloud look at Election Day, through the eyes of children accompanying family members to the polls.
Through the process of a mayoral election, Vote! introduces readers to ins and outs of campaigning, rallies, voting, and even recounts.
We have many outstanding titles on the suffragist movement and its leaders (including With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote, The Hope Chest, and my new favorite, Around America to Win the Vote). Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President showcases the early start of the suffragist movement, during which Susan B. Anthony was arrested, put on trial and found guilty for casting a ballot in an election.
Growing up in the White House might seem really cool, but it can definitely have its downside. Teaching history through the lives of actual children makes history very relatable to young readers, which is why White House Kids: The Perks, Pleasures, Problems and Pratfalls of the Presidents’ Children is one of my very favorite books about the history of the White House and the American presidency.
We also have some informative and entertaining reads for middle and high school students about the voting process:
Every Vote Matters: The Power of Your Voice, From Student Elections to the Supreme Court is an eye-opening look at the power of every vote, as it examines Supreme Court decisions (with emphasis on those that affect young people) that came down to the difference of one vote. It also has a great overview of the electoral process, who is eligible to vote, and arguments for and against making voting mandatory and lowering the voting age.
Red Girl, Blue Boy is a hugely entertaining read about two teens on the opposite side of the political spectrum who, despite being initially antagonistic toward each other, eventually form a secret relationship. When Katie’s Republican father and Drew’s Democrat mother run for president, they are naturally instant enemies. When they both appear on a surprise interview, they discover that they have feelings for each other; of course, this relationship must be handled in secret–until the press finds out! This has great appeal for middle and high school students; light on romance and heavy on the funny hijinks.
For a deeply personal and in-depth look at the fights for African American voting rights, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March is a must read. At age 15, Lynda Blackman Lowery was the youngest advocate in the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March. Lynda was a strong, intelligent and brave young advocate who was jailed eleven times for participating in the civil rights struggle before she turned 15. Lowery’s memoir is an incredible account of the enormous sacrifices and struggles faced by everyday people in the civil rights movement.
For more information on the electoral process and government, please see the J 324 section.
Looking for more program highlights and staff suggestions for children and young adult readers? Make Kiddosphere your source for all the latest on what to read and what to do for kids!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library