10.21.2012

Election for Kids


  If you're not living under a rock, you know the U.S. presidential election is coming soon to precincts near you.  Although kids don't get to vote, they are keenly aware that the election is looming.  While some just notice because their regularly scheduled programming has been interrupted by debates and campaign ads, others are genuinely interested in how the results of the election will affect their education opportunities, their families' finances, and their own access to Big Bird.

Seize this opportunity to help kids understand the electoral process.  Check out these books that highlight aspects of elections.

Familiar Characters for Little Kids:
Several entertaining picture books have been written that will help begin a conversation about voting with little learners.  Clifford for President, by Acton Figueroa, employs a friendly and familiar character to introduce children to basics about elections. Clifford and another dog are nominated as candidates for president of the dog park. In this simple story, students get to see how the dogs campaign for votes. In Vote for SpongeBob, by Erica Pass, another favorite character introduces children to election vocabulary and concepts. In this story, which is a bit longer than the Clifford tale, SpongeBob and Squidward are nominated to run for Royal Krabby at the Krusty Krab restaurant. SpongeBob enlists Patrick as his campaign manager, and the two eagerly get to work making posters and buttons, planning a debate and a parade, and going door to door to talk to voters.

More Great Election Stories for Young Learners:
In Grace for President, by Kelly DiPucchio, Grace runs against Tom for president in her school's mock election after learning that the United States has never had a female president.  This story even introduces the electoral college by having students vote on behalf of each state.  In Kay Winters' My Teacher for President, Oliver sends a letter to his local TV station listing all the reasons his teacher would be a perfect president. This book is a perfect introduction to discussions of nominations and the characteristics that make up a good president.

Election Books for Big Kids:
Election Connection: The Official Nick Guide to Electing the President is like an almanac of election information and trivia.  Middle schoolers enjoy this format, and of course the Nickelodeon characters help increase its appeal.  In The Kid Who Ran for President, by Dan Gutman, 12-year-old Judson Moore decides to run for president, figuring that a kid could provide a fresh perspective since adults have had plenty of opportunities to get the job done right.  The entertaining story will catalyze discussions about the rules of the electoral process and roles of journalists, candidates, and voters.

To help students apply the election concepts they learn, head to Make Beliefs Comix.  Bill Zimmerman's site offers many fantastic free printable comics that students can complete.  An entire page is devoted to Election comics that prompt students to create dialogue between the presidential candidates, list the qualities of a good candidate, design political campaign buttons and more! 
Even my younger students enjoyed designing buttons to encourage others to vote in the the upcoming election.

I also printed a couple of the full-color comics on our poster machine and added them to our election book display in the library window.