Growing Reader



Democracy Begins at Home: Books to Teach Kids About Our American Government

by Sharon Holbrook

Photo credit: PM Images, DigitalVision / Getty Images

American politics has recently been, shall we say, eventful. Even so, research still shows that American adults have little knowledge of how our government works, with only one-quarter able to name our three branches of federal government.

Yikes! This is troubling, given that the whole point of democracy is to put ordinary citizens in the driver’s seat of governing the nation. Furthermore, if we grown-ups don’t understand our government, how will our children? How will they become equipped to become engaged, active citizens?

Here are some books that we can read together to begin to pass the torch of democracy and liberty on to our kids. (And maybe, just maybe, we grown-ups can learn a thing or two as well.)

  • The President

  • What Is the President’s Job?

    by Allison Singer

    With younger kids, it helps to start with the concrete, and the most recognizable feature of our government is our president. This nonfiction book for kids ages 5 to 7 gives a simple, straightforward overview of the president’s job complete with a vibrant layout and fun details about real-life presidents up through President Barack Obama.

  • If I Were President

    by Catherine Stier, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

    In this appealing picture book for preschool to early elementary age kids, the president’s duties are explained and colorfully illustrated with children starring as the president. It’s refreshing to see that boys and girls from a variety of ethnic backgrounds take their turn as president.

  • Civil Rights

  • Knowing Your Civil Rights

    by Christin Ditchfield

    This approachable nonfiction picture book is the perfect starter book to introduce your elementary schooler to the individual rights guaranteed to each of us by our Constitution. From the original Bill of Rights to amendments that extended protections and rights to women and people of color, Knowing Your Civil Rights provides an excellent overview.

  • A Kids’ Guide to America’s Bill of Rights

    by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Anna DiVito

    This lively chapter book delves deeper into individual rights, and the controversies surrounding them. Middle schoolers and up will enjoy the vividly told examples, especially those (like school prayer) that revolve around kids. Know for discussion purposes that this book touches on sensitive, controversial issues including pornography and abortion.

  • Congress

  • The US Congress for Kids

    by Ronald A. Reis

    The framers of the Constitution anticipated that Congress would be the most important part of our federal government. Now, Congress's workings seem both mysterious and frustrating to most of us. The US Congress for Kids effectively explains how Congress works, weaving in colorful history and engaging activities. Middle school and up.

After digging into these books, you and your kids will certainly be among those who know our three branches of government. (Okay, okay, I’ll tell you — they are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.) More than that, they’ll have an appreciation for how exceptional our democratic system is, and how important it is that we all play our part in upholding its protections and freedoms.


Have you come across any other great books about our system of government for kids? Share in the comments below!