The BEST books to teach about the President!
We've been on the search for children's literature with the Presidential Seal of Approval. Kidding, not kidding! We *LOVE* children's books, Amazon, buying children's books on Amazon, and saving other teachers time by finding quality resources. Put all of that together and we decided to write a blog post sharing our favorite picture, nonfiction, and fiction books about the presidents! These are books we already owned from a decade of teaching or have purchased after being recommended somewhere along the way.
First up is a picture book, Grace For President! We love this one so much. If you want a sneak peek inside, click here to see our book review with some of the illustrations! It has diversity, equality, and a poignant message about females being capable of holding the office one day. It is written by Kelly Dipucchio and has great examples of citizenship, and I love that an African American girl is the star of the book! We also really love "Worst of Friends" by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain. It's the true story of an American Feud between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. This text is more specifically about the writing of the Constitution, but it is fun to see two presidents having trouble getting along. They ultimately set aside their differences in the name of friendship, which is a lesson I think we can all hear many times over!
Next, we love the "Who Was" series. They are for older students (third grade all the way into middle school) but really go in depth into the biographies of important people, each includes 10-12 chapters kept to 100 pages, timelines, and some B&W sketches to keep things interesting. As of January 2020, they have 16 presidents and first ladies in the series. Teacher tip: Commit to reading aloud at least ONE that is relevant to what you teach in social studies content wise to help students make connections to that time period. You could carve out 10 minutes a day and have the entire book finished in a week! I also have the two presidents included in the "I Am" series (George Washington & John F. Kennedy). While I like those economically, they are not as well written (in my opinion) and are geared toward middle school reading levels. They come on sale through Scholastic often!
For shorter biographies, I recommend History Maker bios! They have tons of presidents and first ladies, and stay around 40 pages with 5 chapters. I like that they spotlight Dolley Madison and first ladies as much as they men! The font is larger, there are more nonfiction text features in this one, and most stay around late third grade to end of fourth grade reading level. I found these on sale at Books A Million. Of course, Nat Geo readers are my go-to for many nonfiction topics and they have several presidents, but not as many as I'd like. There are some easy reader biographies through Scholastic that are perfect for third grade and lower. There are also some "Step Into Reading" & Ready To Read biography readers featuring the presidents that are geared for first through third grade or struggling readers in the upper grades. These have more pictures, larger illustrations, and simpler vocabulary. Also for lower elementary, we really like the Character Counts! series from Scholastic. (This one won't link on Amazon.) There are 6 pillars of character, each focusing on various influential leaders. The one about young George Washington is about the pillar of trustworthiness! We love sneaking in character traits as much as possible, don't you!?!?
Moving to fiction, Dan Gutman authored "The Kid Who Ran For President" and "The Kid Who Became President" and I snagged class sets of these texts for $1 deals. I thought they were perfect for our upper elementary government unit and a fun way to learn about government concepts and topics from a kid's perspective. And for a cat's perspective of running for the big office, Bad Kitty for President is a hilarious tale of pre-election day campaigning and is STUFFED with election key vocabulary like campaign, delegate, primary, caucus, endorsement, and nominee. It's filled with silly comics and humor to make sure that the learning is snuck in! At 128 pages (with many of those not full pages), it is the perfect class read aloud for an election year with so many content specific vocabulary terms built in. I also snagged this one as a Scholastic $1 book so check there first!
What are the best books that you've read about the office of president? Are there any we need to add to our list of favorites? Let us know!