There has been a lot of mudslinging and name-calling during this Presidential campaign. But you can distract your children with these six informative and quirky books about some of our greater leaders.
1. Master George’s People (Marfe Ferguson Delano)
It’s George Washington: but not exactly the man you think you know. Every American child is taught about how the first President could not tell a lie, but few are familiar with his record as a slave owner. This intriguing book offers an interesting and balanced assessment of Washington’s relationship to slavery, and explains why he freed all his own slaves in his will. A fascinating book on a difficult subject.
2. Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library (Barb Rosenstock)
Jefferson was the ultimate bibliophile. He collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects, and his crazy-big collection helped establish the Library of Congress. This charming book, wonderfully illustrated, traces the great man’s life through his love of reading and books – from his bookworm childhood right up to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and his Presidency.
3. Abe Lincoln’s Dream (Lane Smith)
In storytelling, originality counts for a lot – which is what makes this heartwarming tale such a delight. A young schoolgirl bumps into Lincoln’s ghost during a White House tour, and they fly off together around the country. Along the way, they tell jokes and share dreams – and the little girl even gives the President an impromptu report on how the country has progressed since his time. Funny and touching.
4. The Camping Trip that Changed America (Barb Rosenstock)
The story of the little trip that made a massive difference! When Teddy Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir for a camping trek in the wilderness of Yosemite Valley, the pair talked long and hard about the need to protect such land for future generations. The trip had very important consequences – our wonderful National Parks! – but the book also shows what a boisterous good time the two men had.
5. Who Was John F. Kennedy? (Yona Zeldis McDonough)
A hugely entertaining book that tells the full story of America’s playboy President, from his promising start to tragic end. Kennedy’s whole life – World War Two heroics, dashing romances, a nuclear stand-off – reads like a classic adventure story, and the author’s easy-going style will appeal to kids of all ages. Easy to read and packed with 100 illustrations, this book brings a fascinating man to life.
6. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope (Nikki Grimes)
Okay, so he’s not technically a former President yet, but this is a good read nonetheless. Plus, the set-up is cute. As a mother and her son watch Obama on TV, the mother starts sharing the story of Obama’s life. Young readers then get a guided tour through the future President’s childhood in Hawaii, his early work as a community organizer and his final rise to the Presidency. It’s pretty stirring stuff, full of hope.
Are you kids glued to their electronic devices? It’s the Rise of the Screenagers.
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