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February 20, 2020

Books to start a democracy dialogue with your kids

The content we choose to put in front of our children is of the utmost importance. Empowering children with books that both represent them and teach them about the broader world in which they live is absolutely critical. 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.

– Karine Apollon, CEO Reading Partners

As part of our #ReadingMatters2020 campaign, we encourage parents to engage in a democratic dialogue and read with their children during the presidential election cycle. This booklist, curated by Jen Joyce, director of national program at Reading Partners, is designed to spark conversations about democracy and civic engagement during the 2020 campaign season. 

Books about civic engagement

Grace for President, democratic books

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio

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, democratic books

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin

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, democratic books

What’s the Big Deal About Elections by Rubi Shamir

A great informational text that shares fun and important facts about elections at a digestible level. Think; everything from why elections are held on certain days, who was able to vote and when, and the formation of political parties.

Lillian's Right to Vote, democratic books

Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter

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 policies in place that kept their vote silenced through discrimination and tests. Follow 100-year-old Lillian on her walk to the ballot box as she votes for the very first time.

If I Ran for President, democratic books

If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier

This book dives into what it takes to be president including understanding all of the challenges facing the country and the people you represent. Your child will learn the vocabulary of the election process and understand the weight of responsibility for the president.

When You Grow Up to Vote, democratic books

When You Grow Up to Vote by Eleanor Roosevelt

Originally published in 1932, this book written by Eleanor Roosevelt 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, not just elected officials. Firefighters, teachers, and garbage men are all highlighted and connected to why voting matters in their chosen field.

What Can a Citizen Do, democratic books

What Can a Citizen Do by Dave Eggers

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, democratic books

Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote by Kirsten Gillibrand

This book introduces young readers to ten 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 democratic books

So You Want to be President    by Judith St. George

The book offers 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.

Other ways to get involved

Along with this democratic booklist, #ReadingMatters2020 highlights three key actions you can take to strengthen local communities by advocating for early literacy.

  • CONTRIBUTE – Become a volunteer tutor or donor with a proven program like Reading Partners. Your efforts will help young students build the reading skills and confidence they need to reach their full potential.
  • SHARE – Share the #ReadingMatters2020 campaign video on Facebook. You can help spread the word about the positive ripple effects that come from helping a child learn to read!
  • ADVOCATE – Tell your local, state, and national elected officials that literacy is an important issue they cannot ignore.

Reading Partners does not profit from any Amazon book sales. 

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