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Books for Teaching About Elections

By Genia Connell

Use these books to help build an awareness of the democratic process and the role our citizens play in it.

Grades

3–5

Candidates, Campaigns & Elections (3rd Edition) by Mary Oates Johnson, Linda Scher
Get your students excited about elections with these engaging activities that include role-playing, interviewing, debating, and graphing. Students will learn how our government is organized and investigate how the politicians present themselves and are covered by the media. Includes literature links, primary sources, maps, and charts for tracking results.

Classroom Tip: I've used this book countless times as a resource to help me in the classroom. The large colorful tear-out poster describing the election process will be up in my room throughout my election unit. If you only buy one election/civics book this year, I suggest you make it this one. You will find the Voter Registration Form from Lesson One on page 27.

Oral Presentations Made Easy! by Paul B. Janeczko
Help your students look forward to public speaking. With fun and playful warm-ups, strategies that guide kids through the process of creating a super speech, an anti-stage-fright checklist, and more, this book has all the tools you need to ease your students' worries.

Classroom Tip: The Anti-Stage-Fright Checklist on page 28 for Lesson One and the Self-Reflective Speech Review on page 47 for Lesson Two came from this resource. I’ve used those and many other reproducibles from this book to help my third graders give any sort of oral presentation with confidence.

 

Read-Aloud Resources

So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George; illustrated by David Small
Presidential hobbies, virtues, and vices, and other amusing comparisons and contrasts all get a tongue-in-cheek airing in a book about the presidency that's serious fun. There is no storyline to this book that is organized as an informative guide for kids who want to grow up to be President. Each page or two-page spread focuses on one aspect of the people who went on to become president, like their pets and their athletic preferences. The book culminates in a stirring homage to the idealistic possibilities of holding the office of President. This book is a wonderful way to get your class thinking about what happens after the election.

Classroom Tip: I use it as a humorous kick-off to my election unit.

The Story of the White House by Kate Waters
Here is an engaging tour of one of the world's most famous houses. Portraits of former Presidents and First Ladies, fun facts, and highlights of holiday celebrations make this an unforgettable visit to this national landmark.

Classroom Tip: This is one of my informational read alouds during the election unit. Students always marvel at what a grand house the president resides in and all the history behind it.

 

Using These Books in the Classroom

I keep all of the following titles in a "Books of the Month" crate along with others I have collected over the years. Students always look forward to these seasonal/theme-related books they can use for independent reading or research anytime they choose. Make sure your collection of books covers a range of reading levels so children can choose appropriately. During a non-election year, I put out my President books during February for President’s Day.

A. Lincoln and Me by Louise W. Borden, illustrated by Ted Lewin
Skinny as a bean pole and tall for his age, an awkward young boy learns that Lincoln was often called "gorilla" and "backward hick" by his peers. Yet along with his big hands and big feet, Lincoln had the amazing gift to lead a nation through a troubled time. This story, illustrated with dramatic paintings by a Caldecott Honor recipient, tells the story of a child who finds a role model in Abraham Lincoln.

Abe Lincoln's Hat  by Martha Brenner; illustrated by Donald Cook
This lively biography introduces young readers to the man who became America's 16th-president, reveals how Lincoln kept important papers in his tall black hat, and offers other biographical anecdotes that humanize Lincoln.

Arthur Meets the President  by Marc Brown
Arthur the aardvark faces trials and tribulations when he wins a trip to speak in front of the president in Washington D.C. Youngsters are sure to share his hopes and fears in the face of challenges. Arthur continues to be everyone’s favorite third grader in my room.

Class President by Johanna Hurwitz
Julio discovers his latent leadership skills as the class prepares to hold an election for class president.

George Washington's Socks by Elvira Woodruff
Five kids step inside a wooden rowboat and find they've stepped back in time to the eve of the Battle of Trenton in George Washington's time! They work to find their way back home while experiencing the American Revolution firsthand.

Ghosts of the White House by Cheryl Harness
The ghost of George Washington steps out of his White House portrait to introduce Sara — and the reader — to the ghosts of 35 other Presidents. Brief biographies of all the Presidents, loads of fascinating trivia, and a time line round out this unique history of the presidency.

If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln by Ann McGovern; illustrated by George Ulrich
Vivid full-color illustrations and a question-and-answer text bring to life the traditions, customs, and everyday worlds in a series that covers a rich range of historical events, eras, and peoples. Meticulous research, accuracy of detail, and facts told from a child's perspective convey what it was like to live in another time. Basic concepts of history are made meaningful through details of daily life, putting young readers into the middle of the action.

If You Grew Up with George Washington by Ruth Belov Gross; illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Questions children might ask about life in Washington's time are answered in this entertaining, information-packed book.

It Happened in the White House: Extraordinary Tales from America's Most Famous Home by Kathleen Karr; illustrated by Paul Meisel
Could it be true? The White House was almost painted in camouflage colors during World War II. Thomas Jefferson stored prehistoric bones from the Lewis and Clark expedition in the East Room. Some Presidents were afraid to sleep in certain White House bedrooms because of ghosts. These and more incredible stories surrounding the most famous American home are gathered here for the amusement and the amazement of the curious.

Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents by George Sullivan
Updated to include information on Barack Obama, this easy-to-read book features brief biographical summaries of each President and his term of office, including his politics, events of the time, and amusing anecdotes.

O, Say Can You See?: America's Symbols, Landmarks, and Inspiring Words
There are stars-and-stripes T-shirts, Statue of Liberty pencil sharpeners, and an eagle on our money and on Uncle Sam's costumes. Symbols are everywhere... but where do they come from? What do they mean? How does something become a symbol? With dramatic storytelling and lighthearted illustrations, this book gives children historical background, and highlights the creation of our nation's most important symbols, landmarks, and documents.

A Teddy Bear for President Roosevelt by Connie Roop and Peter Roop; illustrated by Rebecca McKillip Thornburgh
This informative, early reader is illustrated entirely with photographs. Each subject is thoroughly described and accompanied by sidebars focusing on special people and topics.

Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times by David Rubel
A wonderful resource you will use over and over. Each U.S. President's story unfolds in historical context in a graphically exciting, single-volume encyclopedia created especially for elementary-aged readers. With one page allotted for each year of a President's term (through Clinton), students will learn the accomplishments and disappointments of each President, plus how the nation grew during each administration. I loved this book so much when I received it at school that I took it home to share with my family who kindly read through it and seemed intrigued enough to humor their teacher-mom.

From Unit Plan: Every Vote Counts!

My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
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