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Check It Out

Courier Article by Carol Banks
Monday, September 8, 2008

Presidential Campaigns, Elections Can Be Fun for Kids

The lights have been doused from the Convention centers in Denver and St. Paul, all the confetti swept away, and the delegates have gone home to their respective states but the Presidential election on November 4 is still foremost in the minds of most Americans. There is even a brand new slate of children's books intended to prepare and educate the youngest for this important national event. Cast your ballots now for these frontrunners…

Otto Runs for President (by Rosemary Wells). Tiffany and Charles are rival candidates for president of Barkadelphia School. Fashionista Tiff is counting on the popular crowd to help her win while star athlete Charles figures to pull in the sports crowd. Wells' humorous story describes what happens when a campaign runs amok as Tiffany and Charles promise their fellow students more than they can deliver. Enter Oscar, the dark horse—actually make that the dark dog, candidate (as befitting a school known as Barkadelphia). Oscar actually talks to the students and listens to what they really need and want. Bigger blankies for kindergarten naptime! A homework help line! "A class trip to the Madison Square Garden Dog Show!" With a solid platform and loyal grassroots supporters it will come as no surprise who will be known as "The Prez" around Barkadelphia.

Grace for President (by Kelly Dipucchio). When shown a poster of all the U.S. Presidents, little Grace Campbell was indignant. "Where are the GIRLS?…no girls? Who'd ever heard of such a crazy thing?" Grace decides to remedy that situation: she'll run for President! Using this opportunity as a classroom learning experience, Grace's teacher Mrs. Barrington and fellow teacher Mr. Waller decide to hold a mock election. Thomas Cobb from Mr. Waller's class would "run" against Grace. Thomas promised to be "…the best man for the job!" while Grace's slogan boasted, "Make history! Vote Grace Campbell for President!" Rallies were held, speeches given, cupcakes were passed out (Cupcakes? Ummm, I like this election!). The rest of Grace and Thomas's classmates would represent the fifty states and the District of Columbia and cast their state's electoral votes for one of the two candidates on Election Day. The roll call began: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona…and so on. Grace and Thomas both knew it would take 270 electoral votes (half of the total electoral votes plus two) to win. After Wisconsin the vote was Thomas 268, Grace 267. Wyoming would decide the next President! Sam, representing Wyoming, took the podium, and declared, "The Equality State of Wyoming casts its three electoral votes for…" To learn the outcome of this Election Day you'll have to check out the book from the library! Teachers, Dipucchio's book provides an excellent explanation of the Electoral College that even adults can understand!

While you are waiting for the Presidential returns on November 4, amaze family and friends alike with your knowledge of Presidential facts and trivia. You will need a copy of The Little Giant Book of American Presidents (compiled by Glen Vecchione). You'll be a real Presidential scholar when you can spout facts like these: did you know that Millard Fillmore was instrumental in starting the first White House library? Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was our tallest President, towering in at 6 feet 4 inches, while James Madison was our shortest President, at a diminutive 5 feet 4 inches? Or, did you know that Zachary Taylor is credited with introducing Cajun food to Americans (thanks to his service as a soldier in Louisiana)? Now quick…tell me the names of the four state capitals named after Presidents. (Give up? They are Jackson, Mississippi; Lincoln, Nebraska; Jefferson City, Missouri, and Madison, Wisconsin.)