It is just about time for frequent political adds to start surfacing again as candidates prepare for the 2008 Presidential Election. This is the first election year that my children are actually old enough to *somewhat* understand the process, so I am trying my very best to try to explain how an individual becomes the President of the United States.
Here are some fun election-related reads to check out if you are in a similar position:
Otto Runs for President follows the action-packed Barkadelphia Elementary School election. Otto watches two of his classmates, Tiffany and Charles, duke it out for the position of Class President. His opponents try to use money, popularity, and dirty campaign tactics to win. The candidates even make promises they can't keep (sound familiar?). Tiffany posters claim that she will provide "Eyebrow pencils in our pencil kits!" Charles advertisements declare that he will support "Soda in the Water Fountains!" After watching the campaigns of his classmates, Otto realizes that they are much more concerned about winning then they are about the needs of the school, and he throws his hat into the ring. He interviews his peers one-by-one to gather information about the true needs of his potential constituents. He keeps his campaign clean, makes promises he can keep- and in the end wins! Maybe not the most realistic portrayal of the election process :) but very cute, nonetheless. I particularly like this book because it will help my 6-year-old understand negative campaign ads she will undoubtedly see at some point this Fall. I also love the illustrations of this book. It is written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells of "Max and Ruby" fame.
LaRue for Mayor is the third book by Mark Teague to star the dog, Ike LaRue. Snort City's Mayoral race is underway, and the front-runner, Hugo Bugwort, is on the campaign trail. Ike's owner, Ms. LaRue becomes injured in a Bugwort Campaign rally, and while she recuperates in the local hospital, Ike is living the canine dream. Ike and his friends are causing so much trouble in town that Mr. Bugwort calls for a "canine crackdown," and vows to completely ban all animals in public places if elected Mayor. Ike LaRue- obviously upset by Bugwort's new campaign promise- sets out to protect "man's best friend" by stepping into the Mayoral race himself. LaRue and his supporters confront Bugwort at his next rally, and Bugwort faints under the pressure. He is rushed to the local hospital in a nearby ice cream truck, where LaRue is a frozen confection-eating stowaway. LaRue decides to spoon-feed his political opponent ice cream in an effort to cool him down during the hospital journey. Over the course of the ride, the former opponents work out their differences, and decide to join forces on the campaign trail as Mayor and Assistant Mayor candidates. The plot is blatantly ridiculously silly beyond measure (if you could not tell), and because of this, my four-year-old thinks it is hilarious, and wants to read it over and over again. My favorite part of this book is not the plot, but the way the story is told. The entire story unfolds in letters written to Ms. LaRue (by Ike), and in the clippings of local newspaper articles. So, the story ends up being told in both 1st and 3rd person narrative, which makes it both interesting and entertaining. I love that Mark Teague throws some advanced vocabulary into the mix every so often. Words like lurid, scurrilous, hecklers, perilous, hysteria, and rambunctious pepper the pages of this picture book. These unfamiliar vocabulary words will undoubtedly spur questions from your youngster, and provide you with an excellent teaching opportunity.
Wackiest White House Pets does not focus on an election, like the previously mentioned books, but instead focuses on Presidential history. I think for children to understand what a Presidential Election is, they have to understand a little about the history of our nation's Presidents. This is a fun, and yes, wacky way to do it. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson had two pet grizzly bears (a gift from the famous Lewis and Clark explorers) that lived on the South Lawn of the White House? Did you know that the Soviets gave President Kennedy's daughter a dog as a gift during the cold war, and the government initially suspected that the dog contained spy equipment? After it was determined the dog was "bug-free," Pushinka became a part of the Kennedy family, and even had four pups courtesy of the Kennedy's Welsh terrier, Charlie. Who knew that Calvin Coolidge had a pet racoon, who he allowed to roam free in the White House, and ride in the presidential limousine? Fun stories like these, mixed with historical background information, makes Wackiest White House Pets a great educational read.
If you would like to do some more election-related activities with your children, head over to the Scholastic News Election Center. Here you will find great printables, that will help you to explain the election process in greater depth to your children. I love this one about the time-line of the Presidential race. Test your family's election knowledge with this quiz. I am excited to try out the Election 2008 Workbooks that are available in Grade levels K-10, they look like another great way to enrich the election education experience this year.
Who wants to read some election based picture books from Scholastic?!? One lucky Citrus reader will receive all three of the books reviewed above! Make a comment on this post by Midnight, July 1st to be entered. Check back next Wednesday to see if you are the lucky winner! Shipping to Continental US only. Good Luck!