Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Contemporary History for Kids!

Help Young People Separate Fact from Fiction in This Fall's Campaign Rhetoric
Our White House Resources Provide
Extensive Articles, Activities,
Discussion Questions, and MORE!

Now that the Republican and Democratic Party conventions have ended, the presidential contenders are back on the road extolling their experience and ideas for moving the country forward. The stump speeches and interviews with the candidates, their surrogates, and their respective campaign representatives often include swats and jabs at their opponent, some true and some not so true.  In the wake of the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Super PACs have created a relentless stream of TV ads to promote presidential candidates independently of each candidate’s campaign, adding more flames to the political fires. How can adults help young people separate the fact from fiction?

Parents, teachers, homeschoolers, and librarians can work with young people to not only encourage political curiosity, but to also teach them healthy skepticism and critical thinking skills helpful in sorting through the campaign rhetoric--critical thinking skills that can also serve young people in all of life’s decisions. 

The anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and its coordinating educational website provide the perfect springboard for engaging youngsters in the discussion of current events, history, and the importance of the democratic vote in America. Reviewing magazine ads and TV commercials that market services and products directly to children with youngsters and asking them to question how they appeal to them lays the groundwork for critically reviewing political ads in the future. Older youngsters may be surprised to learn that many of the techniques used in spinning toothpaste and toys, such as leaving out critical facts and appealing to authority, work equally well in crafting campaign commercials. 

To address the critical need of engaging our nation's young people in this year's election, the NCBLA has created Race to the Ballot: The Our White House Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for Kids!

This all-in-one educational resource includes informative articles explaining presidential job requirements, the history of presidential campaigns, and the evolution of voting rights. Also included are extensive discussion questions, engaging activities, and references to even more resources.

  • In the article "Help Wanted: President of the United States," young people can learn the president's job description as specified in the Constitution, how an American seeks the presidency, and what kind of compensation a president can expect.
  • Young people can read how today's heated campaign rhetoric is nothing new, how dissent about how to develop infrastructure and confront foreign aggression led to a vicious battle in the press between supporters of early presidential contenders John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the article "Persuading the People: Presidential Campaigns."
  • Younger kids may enjoy learning how presidents are people with quirks and flaws just like anyone else in "Presidents Are People Too!" by Heather Lang. 
  • And for specific ideas on how to help young people sort through all of this year's campaign rhetoric, check out "Separate Fact from Fiction: Analyze the Campaign Rhetoric." 

Race to the Ballot: The Our White House Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for Kids! is available free on To review the complete Kit, including an easy-to-print PDF version, click here

Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback. 
Ask for it a library or bookstore near you!