We’ll likely be talking to our children about this year of civil unrest and reckoning, the election, and its eventual outcome for decades to come.
Here are a few books that provide context and continuing conversation starters on topics from the complex history of voting rights in the United States to iconic women and men who have impacted our civil rights. The goal is to explore and celebrate our democracy.
- “Finish the Fight: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote” by Veronica Chambers and the staff of The New York Times. On the hundredth anniversary of women’s right to vote, this book celebrates a diverse group of women who helped it happen and whose stories are not widely known.
- “Grace for President” by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. “Where are the girls?” asks Grace, who is astonished to learn the United States has never had a female president. She decides she’ll be the nation’s first and starts by running in her school election. Her popular opponent declares that he’s the “best man for the job,” while Grace works hard to be the best person. Kids get a brilliant and easy-to-understand introduction to the American Electoral College system. Will popularity or hard work and character win the day?
- “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark,” by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. In this picture book about her life, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable. Ginsburg, who died in September, spent a lifetime disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment and standing up for the rights of people everywhere.
- “Start Now: You Can Make A Difference” by Chelsea Clinton. This book explores problems large and small, from health to hunger, climate change, endangered species and bullying, and helps kids understand how they can make a difference in big and small ways. It includes kids who are already engaged and explores ways kids can help make the world a better place.
- “Sofia Valdez and the Vanishing Vote” by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts. Second-grader Sofia is named Election Commissioner, in charge of overseeing a fair and honest election to determine what pet the class will get. When the votes are counted, there’s a tie, but one vote is missing. How will Sofia restore democracy?
- “Thank You for Voting: Young Readers’ Edition” by Erin Geiger Smith. Kids learn about America’s complex voting rights history, from the founding fathers to Jim Crow to women’s suffrage to gerrymandering. Readers learn why this civil right is so important.
- “The Campaign,” by Leila Sales, illustrated by Kim Balacuit. Maddie Polansky never pays much attention to politics, until she learns the frontrunner for mayor of her city intends to cut funding for the arts in public schools. Twelve-year-old Maddie persuades her babysitter, Janet, to run for mayor, and Maddie is her campaign manager.