Monday, October 8, 2012

Race to the Ballot: Presidential Campaigns

Engage Young People
in the Presidential Campaigns
with Suggestions for
Analyzing Stump Speeches
AND Writing Their Own

You can encourage young people to engage in this year's campaign and election process by taking them to hear a presidential stump speech or watching one on TV or Internet video! 
Both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have standard speeches they each know by heart that includes their key ideas and plans for the country. These standard speeches enable the candidates to speak to voters along the campaign trail without writing a new speech for every stop along the way. Although each candidate may tweak the speech to acknowledge and address the people and places where he or she is talking, the majority of the speech content typically remains the same whether the candidate is talking to voters in Anchorage, Alaska or Miami, Florida. This type of speech is referred to as a “stump speech” because political candidates in the nineteenth century often stood on tree stumps as they spoke to the crowds.

Depending upon where you live, you may be able to take your kids to hear a presidential stump speech.  
Candidates visit all sorts of public places where you can take your entire family or a group of young people. Even if the candidate visiting your area is someone you may not vote for, consider taking your kids to see him or her anyway. Hearing a presidential candidate give a speech in person is a wonderful opportunity to engage young people in the political process and excite them to become active, involved citizens! After the event, be sure to ask your kids what they thought about the speech and the experience. Did they find the candidate engaging? Was he or she a good public speaker? Did he or she attempt to connect with the local people? How so? Did the candidate use humor, and was it effective or not? What ideas in the speech did they find inspiring or not?

For even more ideas on how to engage kids in the campaign and election process, including suggestions on having young people analyze campaign speeches and write their own, visit the NCBLA article "Watch a Presidential Stump Speech...and Invite Kids to Write Their Own" in Race to the Ballot: The Our White House Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for Kids! on
In this election year, the NCBLA has created the Presidential Campaign and Election Kit to help all adults who live and work with young people engage with our kids in informed discussions about the presidential campaigns and election, teach them to think critically, and energize them to learn more about the political process in America. This Kit includes:
  • Exclusive articles regarding such topics as presidential job requirements, the history of presidential campaigns, and the evolution of voting rights.
  • Activities to use with young people in the classroom or at home.
  • Discussion questions you can share during class, around the dinner table, and at a Scout or club meeting.

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. Our White House was created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance as a collaborative effort by over one hundred award-winning authors and illustrators to encourage young people to read more about America’s rich history and culture; to think more about America’s future; to talk more about our nation’s leadership; and to act on their own beliefs and convictions, ensuring this great democratic experiment will survive and thrive.
Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback.
Ask for it a library or bookstore near you!