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Books for Tweens About Elections

by Denise Schipani

This morning, as my middle schooler was halfway out the door, he asked, “So, what happens if someone gets the nomination, but then changes her mind? Or his? What if they die? Do they just pick someone else?” The bus was coming in less than two minutes, so my answer was something along the lines of, “Uh … Not sure that’s happened before, but I’d guess the party would have to find someone else. See you later!”

Both of my sons — ages 13 and 11 — are highly election-curious during what I tell them is a very interesting year. We talk about it all the time. What’s a caucus? Why Iowa first? Has there ever been a tie? (They mean an actual, popular-vote tie; I haven’t even tried to explain Florida in 2000 to them yet.) My husband and I know a fair amount about U.S. civics and government, but darned if our boys — and they’re hardly unique in this respect — don’t come up with questions that leave us either stammering or frantically Googling.

If your family’s in the same boat, check out this list of book picks for election-obsessed tweens.

  • Voting and the U.S. Government

    by PaperSalt

    If you pick up Voting and the U.S. Government, don’t just give it to the kids and forget about it; flip through this unique spiral-bound volume with them. You might learn quite a bit yourself — or at least update some hazy knowledge — about the ins and outs of U.S. civics (branches of government, the history of elections and how they work). It’s bright, colorful, and engaging, organized with diagrams and text blocks that have great visual appeal for kids of all ages.

  • A Kid’s Guide to the Voting Process

    by Tammy Gagne

    A Kid’s Guide to the Voting Process is exactly what the title promises — a what’s what (and a why’s why) of our most fundamental right and privilege as citizens: the vote. How did voting start in early America? Who can vote now, and how did they gain that right? How are candidates chosen? And is there anything a kid can do to participate in the process? (Other books in this series include histories of both major political parties.)

  • Voters: From Primaries to Decision Night

    by Robert Grayson

    This is one of a four-part Inside Elections series aimed at tweens and teens (other books in the series cover the media’s role in elections, the role of special interests and lobbyists in the process, and political parties). Rising above a simple explanation of a complex process, the book will appeal to the politically precocious child — as well as the parent (or teacher) looking to build critical thinking skills.

  • The Kid Who Ran for President

    by Dan Gutman’s

    In Dan Gutman’s The Kid Who Ran for President, 12-year-old Judson Moon decides it’s high time a kid took the national reins, and runs for the highest office in the land. Well, to be fair, it’s his brainy friend Lane who first hatches the plan, but the two of them really run with it, creating a political party and securing a running mate for Judson. Yes, it’s pure fiction — but kids get a pretty decent civics lesson along with Gutman’s usual middle-grade-friendly hilarity. And if you’re wondering what the outcome is, you’ll also have to pick up The Kid Who Became President

  • Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts and How the U.S. Government Works

    by Syl Sobell, JD

    For the basics, you can’t beat these two books by Syl Sobell, JD. What’s an electoral college anyway? How is the way our government functions now different from what the framers of the Constitution envisioned? The books are easy to read but not dumbed down, with easily searchable indexes that help kids explore topics they’re particularly interested in.

  • Who Is Hillary Clinton?

    by Heather Alexander

    Is your kid wondering who is Hillary Clinton? The forthcoming book is a great way for middle grade readers to get the backstory (such as her rejection at age 14 from NASA!) of a woman who has been in the public eye for their entire lives.

Does your teen have any favorite election-themed reads? Let us know in the comments below!