Picture Books for Learning about Presidents
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The Buck Stops Here by Alice Provensen, is a picture book of presidential history that begins with George Washington and features the other presidents and their contributions to America. I have always loved picture books, and my enthusiasm has been “caught” by my kids who know that Mommy will find a picture book for almost everything, even President’s Day! I love finding unique ways to teach my kids history and other subjects.
The Buck Stops Here is like a timeline of history. Each president is illustrated in a setting that tells the story of the events of his time in office through pictures, captions, and rhyming text. My edition ends with Bill Clinton, but the book has since been revised to include George Bush, Jr. and Barack Obama. The pictures are engaging and detailed, and the witty couplets that accompany them are both funny and sad: “McKinley, Twenty-nine, this day was shot to death, to his dismay.”
Each president appears in the context of the historical events that occurred during his tenure, and each page is titled with that president’s name, number, and years in office. There is so much for all ages to learn from this book.
Freebie: Presidents Activity Pack Printable
Click here or on the image below for our free printable activity pack! This activity pack is perfect for celebrating Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, and President’s Day. It includes library checklists for books about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, Fact vs. Opinion activity, Venn Diagram activity, copywork, and notebook pages. (Elementary, Middle)
The Buck Stops Here built up my kids’ enthusiasm for learning more about the presidents, and they were discussing trivia facts long after we read the book. They spent a great deal of time studying the pictures and reading all the information included with each one.
For example, on just one page, the illustration of George Bush relays many facts:
- the collapse of the Soviet Union
- the fall of the Berlin Wall
- the end of the Cold War
- $150 billion savings and loan bailout
- “read my lips”
- Clarence Thomas confirmed
- Exxon Valdez Alaskan oil spill
- Persian Gulf War
- invasion of Panama
- Noriega surrenders
- Nicaragua and the fall of the Sandinistas
The “Notes about the Presidents” section at the end of the book also includes several paragraphs about each president, including his years in office, birth and death dates, political party, and an expansion of the information about the events depicted in the illustrations. The bibliography provides more resources for further research and study.
Quality picture books like The Buck Stops Here make learning fun, engage kids in the subject matter, and bridge the ages. Picture books are a great way to get kids interested in a subject that may seem dry and boring in a textbook. What an easy way to gather an elementary, middle, and high schooler together and interest them all in the same topic with the same book! As a homeschool mom, any time I can gear a lesson to all my kids at once, it helps to simplify my planning as well as to build bonds among my kids as they learn together.
My youngest enjoyed the book for its pictures and rhyming text, while my older two wanted to read every caption. Everyone learned much more about presidential history than we knew before, and my oldest will remember this information as he studies high school history. Because this book has some characteristics of a graphic novel, all three of my kids were inspired to pull out their art supplies and illustrate their own presidential fact sheets. Who says history cannot be fun?