There are books for young readers that cover almost all facets of politics: the voting and election process, citizenship, laws and equal rights. Personal stories of "first kids," or presidential children, are popular. And, recently, both fiction and nonfiction about women in politics appears as a leading topic.
"Madame President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics," by Catherine Thimmesh (Houghton) documents 23 influential women, from Abigail Adams to Sen. Hillary Clinton. Included are six who made bids for the presidency .
Short biographies of the women with Douglas Jones' Rockwell-like cartoons underscore a freckled-faced girl's claim: "I'm going to be the president of the United States." A timeline and hefty list of sources provide supporting references to this book.
"Madame President" is definitely my favorite of the most recent books on women in politics, but two others provide facts that also might interest young going-to-be voters:
"Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution," by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster) is an entertaining collection of vignettes about women from 1763 to 1865, when slavery was abolished.
The informative notes, reading bibliography and addenda make this a good reference for readers. (If the title, "Dames," is offensive it is to me ignore it and enjoy the humor of Matt Faulkner's folk art! It's worth the effort.)
"The First Ladies Fact Book: Stories of Women of the White House from Martha Washington to Laura Bush," by Bill Harris (Leventhal), chronologically arranges photos, short bios and correspondence about the presidential wives. Style of dress, social habits and a few peculiarities are also included.
Many picture books depict fictional presidential races, but one that outlines the electoral system in simple terms appropriate for the youngest reader is "Grace for President" by Kelly DiPucchio and LeUyen Pham (Hyperion). As a candidate in a school's mock election, Grace never expects to meet a popular opponent who many say is "the best man for the job." Good sportsmanship and hard work receive the pivotal winning votes.
Biographies for older readers provide excellent reading for understanding and further research about individuals who made a difference in history. Two of my favorites are about Jeannette Rankin and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
"Elizabeth Leads the Way," Tanya Lee Stone (Holt) portrays the bravery of a woman who fought for women's vote and co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association with Susan B. Anthony in 1869.
Gretchen Woelfle's "Jeannette Rankin: Political Pioneer" (Boyds Mills) documents the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.Photos, campaign replica and historical clippings augment this memorable story of a woman born on the Montana frontier who remained politically active into her 90s.
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