If I Ran For President by Catherine Stier
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
This gentle first-person subjunctive shows six different kids of varying races and genders running presidential campaigns. Stier doesn’t shy away from using the real terms for things, like “declare my candidacy” and “electoral college.” Overall, a nice, broad strokes overview of how running for president of the United States *should* work. She doesn’t get into how it takes a lot of money to run and campaign finance rules; she also doesn’t discuss racism, sexism, etc. With a publication date of 2007, there’s no specific reference to the fact that all presidents were white Christian men. Only the pictures of the six kids were an implicit message that anyone can be president (plus one line in the introduction). This seems to be a companion book to Stier’s “If I Were the President” from 1999.
A teacher friend recently asked me for books for (her colleague’s) first grade class to read aloud. The class was pretty vocal in their rejection of the picture books she’d tried being too babyish, and she wanted something a bit more concrete about the unrest happening around the country. Here were my suggestions – by far not a complete list:
Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters – better for slightly older kids (School Library Journal lists it for grades 4-7) but I really like it – the poems tell a story of a black boy and a white girl, especially with microaggressions that younger kids may be able to understand as a way to ease into the more blatant examples of racism, for starting a conversation.
The Breaking News by Sarah Lynne Reul. This is my favorite for littler kids who don’t know the exact issue (and adults may not want to get into details for a variety of reasons) but are picking up on the adults’ anxiety.
Something Happened In Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard. Shows how a white girl and a black boy talk about the same police murder of a black man with their families in slightly different ways.
Not My Idea by Anastasia Higgenbotham. This is less of a story and more of a nonfiction read. I don’t love the illustrations, especially as a read-aloud for a class, I think collage illustrations are hard to see, though a virtual read-aloud could be different since each child could conceivably be close enough to see. I read this one a while ago and remember not loving the text either, but that it could be a good jumping-off place for a conversation about recognizing white privilege.
The Wall In the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee and The Sad Little Fact (click link for my review) by Jonah Winter are a bit off-topic but excellent political satire for this moment in history.