With the battle for presidential nominations in total sway, it’s a ideal time to explore what it takes to become the President of the United States. Books are a wonderful way to engage our children and educate them about current events, and this election cycle is certainly an ongoing current event that has the nation’s attention (for better, or for worse).

My daughter Addie and I used Embark with a Book (a site by WETA, the PBS station in Washington, DC) to find books about how our election cycle works and what it takes to become President of the United States. I then interviewed Addie and got a Five ? year old’s perspective on what she would do if she were President.

The interview sparked her imagination while also showcasing what she had learned from the books we read about leading and running our country. I also hope this activity opens up an ongoing dialogue with my daughter on what it means to be a leader, and how progress is made when people feel empowered to switch things for the better.

What You’ll Need

Getting Commenced

As with any interview, prep is key. In our case, prep entailed an exploration of books about what it takes to be elected president, and the roles and responsibilities of a president.

Addie’s beloved read was «Grace for President.» I love that the book calls out that we have yet to have a female president, gives kids a sense of how hard you have to work to be president, and also explains our electoral system – which is not an effortless system to explain.

«Madam President» is a joy picture book that helps junior readers relate to what it’s like to be president. Addie was interested in learning about Abraham Lincoln, so she chose «When I Grow Up: Abraham Lincoln.» For the older kids, I’d very recommend «Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution,» a fascinating read on the history of our government.

Interview Activity

I kept the interview plain for my Five ?-year-old daughter. Here are the questions I asked her and her response:

  • If you were president, what would you do? “I’d eat all the candy I desired.”
  • How would you help people? “I’d make sure that everyone has a waterslide.”
  • How would you spend the country’s money? “I’d buy a home for everyone that does not have a home.”
  • Why do you want to be president? “I don’t know if I want to be President. You have to work all day and all night. I think I’d rather be a teacher.”

If you have older children, attempt asking them extra questions such as:

  • What are some of the issues or problems presently facing the president?
  • As president, how would you attempt to fix those problems?
  • What do you think is hard about being president?
  • What do you think is rewarding about being president?
  • Bonus Tips

    Record the interview (either audio or movie, whichever you child is comfy with). Also, for the junior ones, make it joy by adding a dress-up component. Addie loved looking presidential, and this interview was a superb excuse for her to look like a grown-up (I let her wear a wee bit of makeup and my high-heeled footwear). She also liked using the microphone as a prop.

    Ask your child to write down their own agenda if they could be president for a day. Then check online together to see the president’s actual schedule. You can also have your child interview you!

    For extra ideas on learning about how leadership works in our government, check out Begin with a Book’s Our Government section, as well as their Government Reading Escapade Pack. You can also read more details about my exploration of this topic with my kids in my blog posting, Madam President. Here’s to reading, talking about and exploring what it’s like to be President of the United States of America!

    About Carol Shen

    Carol Shen blogs about her reading adventures with her two kids on Embark With a Book. part of Reading Rockets. As a recently turned stay-at-home mom, Carol is learning the ropes of spending lots of time with her kids — a hard job indeed! She and her kids have lots of joy reading, learning and exploring together. Carol also shares “berries of goodness” on her blog, blueberrymom.com. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she now lives in Northern Virginia outside of Washington DC.

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