Sunday, November 4, 2012

Woodrow for President by Cheryl Shaw Barnes and Peter W. Barnes

Woodrow for President by Cheryl Shaw Barnes and Peter W. Barnes

Rating: 4.5 stars

In the background as I type is the third election commercial in a row.  Ugh.  While I'm tired of hearing these ads and commercials, getting kids interested in citizenship is so important--I hope you are able to choke down your distaste for certain parts of the election (at least in front of them) in order to sow a seed or two of pride in their country.  It's hard, but worth it.

The Barnes couple is local--for me, anyway, in Northern Virginia.  They have found a way to put aside the unsavory side of politics and teach the basics of government to young children through a good-sized collection of books.  I recently reviewed three of their books for a local magazine (click here to read them); I gave those books--about Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court--two thumbs' up.  In all of them, they do an exceptional job of taking a complex subject and breaking it down into an understandable explanation for kids.  In Woodrow for President, the Barnes duo manage to include anything and everything about the campaign EXCEPT the aforementioned ads and commercials to which we're all listening.

Seriously, the book starts at the birth of Woodrow the mouse!

That is the only downside of the book--it really is dense for a children's book.  The rhymes make the book more inviting for kids, and the pictures provide enough to check out while their favorite adult reads.   There are so many facts in this book that you've got to take the time to read it slowly, answering questions as they come.

But the fact that it starts with Woodrow's birth makes this book different from the other election books we've read.  I really appreciate how the authors make a point of telling about the young life of the mouse who will one day become President.  In the first bunch of pages, kids see and hear Woodrow be a good citizen by working hard, studying well, registering to vote, and starting a family and nice little life.  And then my favorite lines of the book, when he decides to go into politics:
For you see, Woodrow felt he'd been blessed from the start--
Given such a good life, that he felt in his heart
That someone like him should give back, with good grace--
To help make his town--and the world--a good place.
I love that.  LOVE it!  The idea of "giving back" is something I'd like to inject not only in my own kids but also their classmates and every other kid I've ever run across.  It's what inspired me to go to Calcutta (before it became Kolkata) and Thailand to help others.  Because isn't that what it's all about?  Helping others!  Giving back!  Contributing to something larger than you!

I'll stop off my soapbox,'s so hard when I could talk about that for a looooong time....!

This is my favorite election book, though it really is for 5- or 6-year olds or even older readers.  There's so much information jam-packed into the pages that you really need to take the time to stop reading and talk about what you've just read with your children or students before going on.  (If Grammy was in charge of this one, it'd take two hours to read.  Loquacious is her middle name.)

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