Vote!, or Go Big! Go Zig!

My sons are fascinated by the election. They marvel at the signs on the backs of people’s cars, the posters in people’s yards, the commercials touting the merits (or demerits) of this candidate over the other. My older son, in particular, is a bit of a policy wonk (a child after my own heart!) and prides himself on his knowledge of not only the Presidents through history but the fun facts associated with them. (A portly President Taft getting stuck in the Presidential bathtub, for example…) He’s even started writing his own campaign speeches and slogans (“Go Big! Go Zig!”). He’s very interested in watching the Conventions as well and so we have, as a family, watched it all. No matter my or my husband’s political leanings, we want to instill in our kids the notion of making their own decisions. Of knowing the issues and learning about the beliefs of each candidate and making decisions based on human rights, kindness and intelligence. We’ve listened to Ann’s speech and Condi’s speech and Mitt’s speech and Michelle’s speech and Bill’s speech and we’re anxiously awaiting President Obama’s speech. And as we’ve discussed politics and what the candidates are talking about and how the election all works, I’ve tried to find a children’s book that succinctly and clearly discusses these complex ideas in a way that is understandable and enjoyable for kids. I found there’s no better book to illustrate the true meaning of our right to vote than “Vote!” by Eileen Christelow. In a simple, engaging, playful way, Christelow’s book offers insight into the electoral process. Using narration by one candidate’s dogs (Elmer and Sparky), the information is approachable and understandable even to younger readers.  In an era of mudslinging it is wonderful to help children understand what’s behind the vote and how important it is to remember why we do it in the first place. And what better time that now to emphasize the importance of knowledge and the amazing power that we have as citizens and voters to change the world. Big lessons for little people – but ones that will stay with them forever.

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