Top books to read with children during presidential election season

March 16, 2020
An early literacy nonprofit has created a list of recommended books for parents to read with their children during this election year. Reading Partners, a national organization dedicated to mobilizing community volunteers to tutor students in under-resourced schools, curated the list as part of its nonpartisan campaign, #ReadingMatters2020. “It is absolutely essential that we elevate awareness of the U.S. literacy crisis across party lines during the 2020 campaign cycle,” said Karine Apollon, CEO of Reading Partners, which is based in Oakland. “We decided to create this booklist as a way to engage parents and ultimately children, empowering them with an important dialogue focused on democracy and inclusive messages such as ‘every voice matters’ and ‘anyone can become President.’ The result is a list of inspirational books that will help to educate, entertain and diversify reading libraries at home.”  Research shows that students who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are four times less likely to graduate on time. Additionally, 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress scores reveal that only 35 percent of U.S. fourth graders are reading at grade level — and only 21 percent of economically disadvantaged fourth graders. Today, it is estimated that 32 million adults in the U.S. cannot read. Addressing the literacy crisis in the early elementary years can help end the destructive trends of cyclical poverty and racial inequality.    “The content we choose to put in front of our children is of the utmost importance,” continued Apollon. “Teaching all children about the role they play in society — and that their voices matter, that their votes will one day matter — is all part of a thriving democracy.” #ReadingMatters2020 Booklist  Grace for President: The main character, Grace, is shocked that there has never been a woman president. She decides to enter the school election. Readers are exposed to responsible campaigning practices, election conventions, the electoral college and voting. In the end, Grace wins the election!  Duck for President: Duck wants to make a change on his farm, so he hosts an election. Once he wins, he sees the work is hard. In an effort to improve work for the “boss” of the farm, he runs for mayor to make bigger changes. Again he wins, and again he learns leading is even harder at this level. And so it goes until he is president and learns a true appreciation for how much work goes into being a leader.   What’s the Big Deal About Elections: A great informational text that shares fun and important facts about elections at a digestible level — everything from why elections are held on certain days, who was able to vote and when, and the formation of political parties. Lilian’s Right to Vote: This book is a historical account of the struggles of African Americans throughout history, celebrating the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Readers learn about the different actions that were taken to keep their vote silenced through discrimination and tests. Civil Rights and the path to the ballot box are beautifully recounted as 100-year-old Lilian walks to finally vote for the first time after many failed attempts. If I Ran for President: This book dives into what it takes to be president, including understanding all of the challenges facing the country and the people you represent. Readers are introduced to vocabulary around the election process and understand the weight of responsibility for the president. When You Grow Up to Vote: Originally published in 1932, this book is written by Eleanor Roosevelt and explains what our elected officials do as well as each citizen’s role in a democracy. Updates have been made in the rerelease to make it more inclusive through illustrations. The book also talks about all civil servant roles, such as firefighters, teachers, and sanitation workers, to show why voting matters in their chosen field. What Can a Citizen Do: This book explores what it means to be a citizen — that as a member of society we have a responsibility to be active and involved. Empowering messages about joining a cause, speaking up, or writing letters show how citizens have the chance to change the world.  Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote: This book introduces young readers to 10 American women who worked tirelessly for women’s rights. It focuses on the work of bold, brave activists and suffragists across history and, ultimately, looks optimistically to the future. So You Want to be President: A historical look at the first 41 presidents of the United States: Readers will have fun looking at who they were personally as well as what they contributed to our national story. 

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