Super Tuesday! – Library Builders

Do you live in a Super Tuesday state?  We do!  While I very much appreciate the freedom we have in this country to vote our conscience for our elected officials, as well as for other ballot measures, I have not enjoyed the half dozen or so recorded messages I’ve said, “hello” to today alone!  Our local fire station is our polling place, and this afternoon it was abuzz with activity…..the firefighters standing outside the building chatting with folks coming and going, the cheerful elections staff visiting and kidding with folks coming in to vote, and even the voters themselves chatting with the staff and one another.

If your children are anything like my own, they’ve been talking a lot about the elections, and they’ve had questions, too.  Sometimes it’s hard to give answers to their questions without talking over their heads.  It’s important to me that my children understand the elections process, and I also want them to have a good, basic understanding of the three branches of government while they are young.  Several years ago, I found a series of books that help explain all four of these things in wonderful, easy-to-read, rhyming text, accompanied by full color illustrations.

The books are the work of the husband and wife team of Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes.  Not only are these books wonderful for their educational value, they are also enjoyed for fun, too!   All four of these titles have been on my Heritage Library shelves for several years.

Woodrow for President (A Tail of Voting, Campaigns and Elections)  No, I did not misspell “tail” in the subtitle!  Woodrow, you see, is a mouse!  In this engaging story, Woodrow G. Washingtail’s early years are briefly chronicled, including his registering to vote at the age of 18, and then follows his rise through community service to governor of Moussouri.  We then can trace his path toward the presidency.  The book covers the entire spectrum of a presidential race – campaigning, the need for volunteers, political parties, debates, primaries, national conventions, speeches, choosing a running mate, nominations, more campaigning, awaiting election results in hotel rooms, acceptance speeches, Inauguration day and moving into the White House.  The only thing that is lacking here is an explanation of the electoral college.  It is still a wonderful overview of the presidential elections process.

Woodrow, the White House Mouse Now that a new President has been elected, he and his family begin their years of living in the White House.  I appreciate this book, particularly, because we follow the lives of the mouse president as it parallels the life of the newly elected human President.  An Inaugural Ball is held, presidential portraits and family portraits are taken, state dinners are held, and work is done in the Oval Office.  One of my favorite pages has the mouse president’s children watching a formal dinner from the chandelier of the State Room and one of them accidentally dropping into a senator’s soup!  Various aspects of White House life are covered from the annual Easter egg roll to concerts to the White House Christmas tree.  Though the tone of the book is light hearted, it still does a good job of explaining the various roles and tasks of the Chief  of the Executive branch of our government.

Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse (A Tail of the U.S. Supreme Court).  This time our mouse is Marshall J. Mouse, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Mice of America, and we take a look at the Judicial branch of our government.  The make-up of the Supreme Court is explained, with a lovely illustration of the nine justices that is very reminiscent of the photographic portraits we are familiar with of our own Supreme Court.  As the opening session is announced at the Supreme Court, we are given a brief tour of the “lesser” courts throughout the land, along with an explanation of judges and juries.  The Constitution and Bill of Rights are introduced and an explanation of the Supreme Court’s roll in preserving and protecting these rights is given.    As the book progresses a difficult case is brought before the court.  Oral arguments are presented.  The justices’ clerks assist them in researching, including many trips to the law library.  The justices meet and study and meet some more before rendering their final decision.

House Mouse, Senate Mouse This final book covers the Legislative branch of government through the lives of The Squeaker of the House and The Senate Mouse-Jority Leader.  Beginning with a look at the Capitol Building, the story continues with a second grade class sending a letter to Congress asking that a law be passed establishing a national cheese.  (Okay, before you scoff too loudly, we all know that sillier bills have not only been introduced, but passed!).   The letter arrives in the Congressional mail room, and then is delivered to its intended recipient.  Copies are made and distributed, and the writing of the bill is undertaken.  Mouse assistants (the lucky bums) check out books from the Library of Congress for their research.  The bill passes on to committee for consideration and then is sent to the floors of  both the House and Senate to be voted on.  Oh, but it’s not so easy at this point.  Various members of the House and Senate all have their own opinions on which cheese should be the “National Cheese”.  In the end, a cheese is chosen, the bill is passed, and it is signed into law by the President.

I’ve seen these books recommended for ages as young as four, and for as old as 12.  I think they are a fine read aloud for the very young, who will enjoy the rhyming text and the colorful pictures.  The books, in my opinion, are really geared toward the 3rd through 6th grade (or so) set, but they really are a good way of opening discussion on these topics with older kids, too. A friend recently borrowed these for her high school kids!

For a complete list of links to all of my Library Builders posts, visit my Library Builders page.

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