Presidential Picture Books

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Presidential Picture Books

Fiction and nonfiction books to explore the presidential election

The 2016 Presidential primary season is in full swing and culminates in the parties' national conventions in July.  With the nominees selected, general election campaigning continues right up to the voting in November.  Here are some great resources to discuss the presidency and the American election process with school age children.

Fictional Picture Books:

Woodrow for President: a Tail of Voting, Campaigns and Elections by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes
Follow Woodrow G. Washingtail from his announcement to run for President, the nominating and campaigning process, all the way to his inauguration. Detailing presidential election aspects often missing from fictional stories (political parties, national conventions, and debates to name a few), Woodrow for President teaches children the ins and outs of our election system.  Check out Barnes and Barnes other picture books about the U. S. Government and Washington, D.C. area. 
 
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Portly President Taft is just slightly too large for his bathtub.  After his wife discovers him stuck in the tub, President Taft calls on the Vice President and cabinet members to help him get out.  This great read-aloud story ends with an author’s note containing information about President Taft and bathtubs.
 
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
“Running a farm is very hard work” and the animals have chores to help out.  Duck does not like chores, so he challenges Farmer Brown in the farm election.  But running a farm is very hard work, and Duck wants to make it easier. He campaigns to be governor and president to enact his changes. Along the way, Duck realizes that enacting changes is just as hard as being a duck on a farm.   
 
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LuUyen Pham
“Where are the Girls?” Grace asks when seeing a poster of US Presidents.  Grace’s class is learning how U.S. Presidents are elected and Grace decides that she would like to be a president.  She starts by running for class president.  DiPucchio details both the Electoral College and election process in this fun election story.  Check out the author’s note for an explanation of the popular and electoral votes.
 
President Pennybaker by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Diane Goode
Luke really wants to watch TV.  After completing all the tasks requested by his parents, Dad still says no.  But Luke won’t let this unfairness go unanswered.  He decides to run for president with his dog Lily as a running mate.  Unfortunately, the demands of the office prevent him from watching TV, so Luke steps down after a week, leaving Lily to make things fair.   
 
Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: a Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend) by Deborah Hopkinson and John Hendrix. 
Visit Abe and Austin in frontier Kentucky as they chase partridges, roam the countryside, and cement their friendship.  Although the Lincolns move to Illinois soon after these events, Lincoln remembered and remarked on Austin, his childhood friend, even on the darkest days of the Civil War.  Like most tall tales, there is a kernel of truth at the heart of this story explained in the opening author’s note. 
 
Madam President by Lane Smith
A young girl imagines her daily life as president.  The text reflects Smith’s dry wit and the illustrations beg for a second look.  Perhaps the United States President should also consider adding a Secretary of Naps and a Secretary of Fantasy to the cabinet. 
 
The Great White House Breakout by Helen Thomas and Chip Bok
Sam lives in the White House because his mom is President.  He loves swimming in the pool because he is not allowed to leave the grounds.  Then he breaks out one evening to explore Washington DC. 
 
Otto Runs for President by Rosemary Wells
Barkadelphia School is electing a class president!  Tiffany, the cutest and smartest, and Charles, captain of all the teams, are both running.  Dissatisfied with these two candidates, Otto decides to run as well.  Wells highlights negativity in campaigns and the importance of listening to constituents in this thoughtful story. 
 
My Teacher for President by Kay Winters, illustrated by Denise Brunkus
Oliver writes to the local news channel supporting his teacher for president because their jobs are similar.  His comparisons add insight into the president’s role, for example catching a loose snake in a classroom is equated with disaster relief, illustrating quick action in an emergency.   Oliver’s teacher would be a great president, but only after the school year ends, of course!
 
Non-fictional Picture Books:

America Votes: How Our President Is Elected by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
Granfield offers an in-depth exploration of the presidential voting process.  Beginning with the constitutional right to vote and how voter eligibility has changed in America, Granfield touches most aspects of American presidential voting historically and candidacy from declaration of intent to run through Election Day.  This book contains a glossary and index for quick searches. 
 
So You Want to be President by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small
St. George recounts funny anecdotes about Presidents Washington through Clinton and the original text won the Caldecott Medal in 2001.  Although an updated text is not available, readers will learn some surprising facts about former presidents. 
 
Hail to the Chief: the American Presidency by Don Robb, illustrated by Alan Witschonke
Using broad headings, Robb explores various aspects of a US President’s job.  A short explanation of a heading is followed by short, specific examples of presidents in action.  The end matter includes a list of all US Presidents and resources for further exploration. 
 
The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
Behold the power of a President and an activist author.  This non-fiction text recounts the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President, and John Muir, cofounder of the Sierra Club, which began with a mission to save America’s wilderness and led to the creation of the National Parks.