Election Books

Lynn: I don’t know about you but I’m tired of elections and campaigning and it’s still a looong way till the summer political conventions and the November election is just barely on the horizon!  I usually enjoy the whole political scene but even I am getting a little weary of it this year.  Still – is there anything more important for kids to understand than the mechanisms of our democracy?  Knowing that those robo calls will get even more frequent in the months ahead, we’re reviewing some books perfect to use as this crazy political season steamrolls along.

First up is a terrific user’s guide to the election process by Susan E. Goodman,  See How They Run:  Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes and the Race to the White House (Bloomsbury Rev. Ed. July 2012).  An irreverent tone makes this book totally engaging and transforms what could have been one more dry discussion into something that is just plain fun to read.  Elwood H. Smith’s cartoon sketches are eye-catchingly humorous and not only act like a kid-attracting magnet but also add a clever commentary to the subject matter.  The book is packed with “listen-to-this” facts and the kind of fascinating trivia that begs to be shared.  Don’t underestimate this book though!  Under the fun is a very lucid explanation of the American electoral system.  I think the explanation of the Florida situation during the Gore/Bush election helped me to understand all the issues involved for the very first time!  There is also a strong and important message about why every single vote counts and I think young readers will come away feeling really motivated to participate where they can and to urge the grownups around them to get out and vote.   The book first published in 2008 but is to be published in a revised edition in July.

A great pairing is Catherine Clark’s funny novel, How NOT to Run for President (Egmont 2012) in which the Gov. Bettina Brandon’s presidential campaign makes a stop in a small Ohio town.  Brandon is a 3rd party candidate, representing the new Fresh Idea Party and she is doing her best to gain national support.  12-year-old Aiden Schroekenbauer, there to play with the band in the welcoming event, saves the Governor from being bashed by a sign blown off a shop.  Dubbed the Clarinet Hero by the media, Aiden is adopted by the campaign and discovers just how hard it is to be the focus of national attention.  Someone is sabotaging the campaign, Aiden clashes constantly with the Governor’s spoiled daughter and then a nasty smear campaign targets both Aiden and his family.  This is a humorous look at the political scene from a kid’s point of view but there’s plenty of issues that will make readers look at this year’s political campaigns with fresh eyes.

Check out other nonfiction reviews on this week’s Nonfiction Monday host Ana’s Nonfiction Blog.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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