Friday, February 10, 2012

All the President's Books

I've always loved politics. As a kid, I thought the Democratic and Republican conventions made for completely compelling television. (Yes, I was that cool.) I could rattle off cabinet secretaries like some kids could recite baseball stats. As a girl growing up in the 80s, I idolized Elizabeth Dole, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Geraldine Ferraro along with Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. Leslie Knope and I would have been BFFs. (Don't know who Leslie Knope is? You're just missing out on the best sitcom currently on TV.)

With these kind of qualifications, I believe I am the perfect candidate (come on - you couldn't resist that pun either) to share with you my favorite president themed books for young readers. With Presidents' Day this month and an election this year, the timing couldn't be more perfect to ignite political aspirations in a new generation of future Commander-in-Chiefs.

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. Jefferson's Sons
Imagine a founding father and a former president being both your master and your father. This impeccably researched work of historical fiction looks at the last years of Thomas Jefferson's life through the eyes of three of his slaves - two of which were his sons by his slave Sally Hemmings. I'd recommend this for mature readers 5th grade and up. Hands down, this was my favorite book of 2011.

Chandra, Deborah. George Washington's Teeth
The 18th century wasn't known for great achievements in dentistry. Using clever rhymes and illustrations, the author teaches readers about our first president's lifelong struggle with bad teeth. This makes a hysterical readaloud for early elementary grades.

Cronin, Doreen. Duck for President
Duck becomes frustrated with Farmer Brown's leadership, and embarks on an auspicious rise in power that takes him all the way to the Oval Office. Preschoolers will giggle at Duck's antics, and adults will appreciate sly references to recounts and saxophone playing presidential candidates.

Smith, Lane. John, Paul, George, and Ben
You say you want a revolution? So did John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. This picture book imagines their lives as young lads before they took on that tiny task of, you know, seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Smith, Lane. Madam President
A little girl imagines what it might be like to be president for a day (in other words, my childhood fantasy.) Like the book's heroine, I think having a Secretary of Pizza and exercising veto power over anything and everything would be pretty awesome.

St. George, Judith. So You Want to be President?
This Caledecott winning book is chock full of fun facts and anecdotes about presidents. For instance, someone once threw a cabbage at William Howard Taft. His response? "I see that one of my adversaries has lost his head."

Want to learn more about presidents? Youth services librarians are just a phone call away at 408-615-2916.

posted by SPB