Picture Books for Learning about Presidents
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Which president did not learn how to write until after he got married? Which president was elected to serve four terms? Who bought Alaska from Russia? Did you know that there have been forty-four presidencies but only forty-three presidents? So You Want to Be President? answers these questions and more in a fun picture book format.
The award-winning illustrations hilariously depict various presidents in caricature, while quirky trivia facts fill readers in on the good and not-so-good things about being president.
An illustration key at the end of the story helps you match up the presidents who appear in each picture, and a presidential fact sheet follows, including dates, birthplaces, and brief summaries of each president’s time in office from George Washington through George W. Bush.
My kids laughed out loud at the pictures, and all of them decided that being president has its drawbacks, like having cabbages thrown at you or having a reporter steal your clothes. There are many perks, however, and the author made sure to highlight all the fun things about being president:
Another good thing about being President is that the President has a swimming pool, bowling alley, and movie theater.
The President never has to take out the garbage.
The President doesn’t have to eat yucky vegetables. As a boy, George H. W. Bush had to eat broccoli. When George H. W. Bush grew up, he became President. That was the end of the broccoli! (p. 9)
So You Want to Be President? does show the serious side to being president and leaves readers with a respect for the office:
Our best have asked more of themselves than they thought they could give. They have had the courage, spirit, and will to do what they knew what was right. Most of all, their first priority has always been the people and the country they served. (p. 47)
As the book moves from the zany to the more solemn topics, the pictures reflect the appropriate tone, and the illustration depicting the impeached presidents perfectly captures the mood. So You Want to Be President? is written so that early elementary ages can read it independently, but it really makes a better read-aloud, so that kids can focus on the pictures while listening. Because my edition was published during the presidency of George W. Bush, I explained to my kids that some things have changed since the book was written, such as, “no person of color has been President.” (p. 43) The book has now been revised and updated.
The only mention of religion in the book is a broad statement about the faiths of the past presidents:
No person who wasn’t a Protestant or a Roman Catholic has been President. But if you care enough, anything is possible. Thirty-four Presidents came and went before a Roman Catholic—John Kennedy—was elected. (p. 43)
With a little research on my own, I was able to start a conversation with my kids about the Christian faith of our founding fathers and explain to them that George Washington shared his Christian faith openly, prayed daily, and relied on God as he led the country.
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)
So You Want to Be President? fits in nicely with our American history and election studies, and I am currently trying to stump my husband with trivia questions. The kids rank it as one of their favorites in this genre.