A better way to learn the democratic process

Published On:
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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The election this year is huge, competitive and boring for some. So if reading up on the political system seems like a snooze, check out these children’s books that give simple explanations as well as pictures. They give a little personality to the democratic process.

Cartoon Nation presents Political Elections - written by Davis Worth Miller and Katherine McLean Brevard. Illustrated by Charles Barnett III. This colorful illustrated book is packed full of did-you-know facts, explanations about the entire democratic process, the struggles women and African American voters went through, and explanations about election day and political parties. This book also features a time line of important events in history, a glossary of terms, useful Internet sites and other books that may give more detailed information. The book is clever in utilizing cartoons to explain the U.S. political process such as funny illustrations of crazy campaigns and celebrity politicians. By pointing out African American and women’s struggles, the book celebrates our diversity and growing tolerance of others. This might be a great book for children 10 and under be the young at heart may enjoy it as well.

Vote! - written and illustrated by Eileen Christelow. This book starts with a little girl’s mom deciding to run for mayor. As she goes through the election process, Christelow explains each step so children will understand how the election and voting process works. She points out how to become a member of a party, what to do to help a candidate win the election, where to vote and what goes in to an election. Her book also incorporates a time line of voting rights and a glossary of terms. One of the best parts of this book is the candidate’s dog makes commentary throughout such as “those darn cats don’t have chance winning with their candidate.”

Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope - written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This book starts off with a mother telling her son the story of Barack Obama and how hope came to help him one day. She starts the story when Obama was a child and then goes into detail about his family life, school life and adult life. There is commentary from the mother and son throughout the story, giving it a more personal feel. A big part of the story revolves around Obama’s relationship with his father, who was mostly out of the picture. Not much is said about Obama’s political career and as the mother goes into his adult life, she makes Obama seem godly compared to the rest of society. Brief religious references are also portrayed throughout. This book presented an interesting story and beautiful illustrations but it is definitely biased and could have used more of what Obama stands for rather then his fatherly issues and religious portrayal. Will be a great story for the hard-core Obama fan.

My Dad, John McCain - written by Meghan McCain and illustrated by Dan Andreasen. This book is the biographical story of John McCain told from his daughter’s point of view. The book includes his military background as well as his political background. The way McCain tells the story of her father makes him more human. She explains how he when he was young he didn’t follow the rules and snuck out of the house a lot. She also points out his failings, like the 2000 presidential nomination. This book presents beautiful illustrations but is again biased because McCain’s daughter is telling the story. Her commentary is weaved in with the biographical facts. But students who see their father figure as a hero will relate well with this book and enjoy what it has to offer.

Reach the reporter at theresa.dillon@asu.edu.