With the days counting down to the General Election and with so much at stake, it’s my hope that people will go out and vote. Something that we take for granted these days was once the privilege of the few and yet today there is an apathy amongst some people about voting that fills me with sadness and despair. It feels even more important now that we encourage our children to understand the political world, despite the fact today’s children are often more aware than I was as a child, it really is a minefield of information. Today on the blog I’m sharing with you a selection of books for children of all ages that highlight democracy in action and how each individual voice can make a difference, whilst offering an insight into the political world.
‘Sofia Valdez. Future Prez,’ is the latest book in the brilliant Questioneers series featuring the extraordinary children of Miss Lila Greer grade two class. When her beloved Abuelo injures himself on the local landfill while walking Sofia to school, she feels urgent action is needed. Mount Trashmore is dangerous and unsightly and a change needs to be made for the sake of her town. But how can one small voice be heard in a crowd of adults? Sofia must use all of her courage to go to City Hall and share her plans to build a park. Fearful Sofia becomes fearless Sofia when she is dismissed by the grown ups and sets out to prove that one child can make a difference. An excellent examination of community in action that highlights that changes can be made when people work together. This is a joy to read aloud and offers endless opportunities for discussion with children about how small changes can make huge differences. Stunningly illustrated and exquisitely produced this is one of my stand out picture books of the year.
In a world of ‘fake news’, 24 hour media and complex political situations, how can we expect our children to grasp the fundamentals of what is actually happening in our world when we are drowning in opposing opinions. Step forward the brilliantly informative, ‘Politics For Beginners,’ which strips back all of the confusion in this no-nonsense, clear guide to what politics is all about. Using bright, bold illustrations and easy to understand diagrams it covers diverse topics from elections and voting, political change and looks at different political ideologies like capitalism and socialism. It also carefully explores the really big questions we face in society in relation to terrorism, human rights and freedom of speech to name a few. This is definitely one of those book that needs to be in every primary and secondary school library, it’s an essential read for all children (and adults) to help make sense of the confusing world we live in.
‘The Accidental Prime Minister,’ takes a satirical look at political life from the viewpoint of a child. The country is run by a dastardly man called Percival T. Duckholm who after an altercation with Joe, which brings him to the attention of the world media, tricks him into becoming Prime Minister. We then see Joe trying to run the country and implement his manifesto including having a fancy dress Friday (on a Thursday) and cats having to wear hats. It offers a really interesting insight into the world of politics as Joe is given a tour around 10 Downing Street and goes off on summits. joe has to deal with his arch nemesis Violetta the deputy Prime Minister who is out to destroy him, Inevitably things don’t run smoothly and everything starts to unravel. I think it’s a brilliant way to highlight to children how easy it is for politician’s to make extravagant promises that turn out to be impossible to implement and shows how easy it is to manipulate voters. A humorous and clever tale that is bound to amuse and entertain whilst gently informing children about the true nature of politics.
Last year was the centenary of women being given the limited right to vote, although it wasn’t until 1928 that women and men were given equal voting rights. How can we today truly understand the struggles that took place to secure these rights when the right to vote is just part of the landscape in which we live and it’s just something that we take for granted. Luckily for us Sally Nicholl’s has captured a slice of social history in the magnificent ‘Things A Bright Girl Can Do.’ She offers us a uncompromising insight into the lives of three very different young women who each play their part in campaigning for change. From the desperate poverty of the East End to the polite drawing room meetings, they all have to make sacrifices for change. But just how much are they willingly to give up in their fight to secure votes for women. It’s definitely not a romanticised view of how the right to vote was achieved for woman, it’s a honest and sometimes brutal account of the battle that took place. By seamlessly weaving the girls lives into history you feel like you are stepping back in time to see the world through their eyes. Sally has created these strong women who are realistically flawed and who you genuinely care about it. This is such a compelling and inspiring story, it’s one of those books I want to put into people’s hands and demand that they read it!
Thank you to Abrams Books, Andersen Press, OUP and Usborne for sending me gifted copies of these books. They are all available to buy now online (click on the link in the title) or from any good bookshop.