Tuesday, August 2, 2016

NF-For Presidents

   

              Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, everyone shares wonderful non-fiction picture books.


          I'm visiting Jen Vincent's Teach Mentor Texts today, writing about using Alphabet Books in the classroom as mentor texts. Visit HERE.


              I see that others have read and reviewed this book, the Caldecott winner in 2000. But it's been  updated twice, most lately in 2012, and includes all the presidents. There are a number of books that can be used in the classroom that would help in election units of study. However, lately I've been wondering how to get kids excited without the worry of the huge controversy in this particular year's election. And I want to share this book, filled with information about all forty-four presidents. They've included fun facts, like how many have shared the same first name: six named James, four Johns and four Wiliams, and that eight different presidents were born in log cabins. It also shares that size doesn't matter whether considering height or weight. It talks about pets, spending habits, and looks. There are pages and pages of different kinds of trivia, and it is interesting to see the wide range of interests, both in music and sports, and those who seem more intellectual. 

           The story of the presidents includes short parts about the two who got in trouble, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, showing them in shame walking down the steps away from the Lincoln Memorial. And it mentions one of the worst presidents, Warren Harding. 
           The conclusion becomes a little more serious, what being the President really means, like wanting to turn lives around for the better, wanting to make the world a better place and making decisions as one looks toward the future. And final pages talk about the oath of office, something to consider and discuss. 
            David Small's cartoon-like illustrations change in tone with the topic. There are amusing pages like the one showing the "zoo of pets" that Theodore Roosevelt's children kept in the White House, and William Howard Taft's huge bathtub. And there are somber pages like the darker one of Lincoln standing in his own memorial.
            There is a page that shares who is featured in each page's illustrations, a timeline giving the dates each president served, and other small bits of information. And there is a bibliography. 
            You'll have to decide how this book might fit into classroom learning and discussions. It feels like a great start to me.

9 comments:

  1. One of the interesting things I thought about in doing research for my just-published book, Mountain Chef, is how dependent presidents are on staff to accomplish their objectives. Teddy Roosevelt dreamed up national parks, but it wasn't until years after he was out of office that a government appointee and a bunch of other people--including a Chinese American trail cook--managed to create the structure that would protect and sustain the idea of the national parks. Maybe in this troubling election year it's worth focusing on books about the people who make the day-to-day decisions that make our government work.

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    1. There was mention of the 'things' in the White House, but little about those "helpers", Annette. What a great idea to include study of all the support that surrounds, too. I'll look for your book!

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  2. This is one of my favorite president books, Linda. I have also enjoyed the Marilyn Singer/John Hendrix book, Rutherford B., Who Was He? And there is a new one out this year with illustrations by Gerald Kelly Grover Cleveland Again! written by Ken Burns. I can't wait to see that one either.

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    1. I was so thrilled to discover this book, Margie, don't know how I missed it in the past! Thanks for the other titles too-time to start a list!

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  3. I can't imagine tackling this topic with what is going on in politics in the US right now. This book looks like a perfect place to begin. Also, I love everything that David Small does!

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    1. It's hard for me to imagine, either, Carrie. I think I might approach it generically, starting with the kind of leader anyone would want. This book in part can be for the younger children, but the concept and David Small's illustrations play to older students. They're so interesting to see. Thanks!

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  4. I just recently recommended this book to a 1st grade teacher wanting election/voting books.

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    1. I love hearing this, Earl. I was so glad to find this book! Thanks for telling me!

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  5. I sometimes struggle to wrap my mind around the American electoral process, so I think a book like this would be right up my alley, too! :)

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