Teaching Civics with Children’s Literarture: D is for Democracy

61yg5pbq1pl__bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_.jpg

D is for Democracy, written by Elissa Grodin, is a creative alphabet story that highlights principle facts about our nation’s government, our rights as citizens in America, and important individuals who have made a difference in the history of our nation.  On each page there is a short text which reflects the letter of the alphabet as well as a beautiful illustration by Victor Juhasz.  On the side of each page there is a more in depth explanation about the topic described in the shorter text.  The short text gives a brief defintion of a term to the readers while making it fun to read with whitty, rhyming sentences.  At the end of the story there is a brief section where young readers are given suggestions as to how to become an active citizen in our democracy.

  • “E is for Elections- We’re guaranteed this right.  It often gets exciting counting votes all night.” (pg. 8 )
  • “S is for the Senate that helps communicate the needs of all the people from every single state.” (pg. 25)
  • “Ask family members if they know the three R’s of being a good citizen: the Right to have and express your own opinion, Respect for other peoples’ rights, and the Responsibility to protect the rights of every citizen.” (pg. 35)

Curriculum Connections:

D is for Democracy would be a great introduction to a unit on government.  Many of the vocabulary words used in a government lesson or unit are found in this story so reading some of these terms would help familiarize students with their definitions.  The story also portrays many influential people in our nation’s history so it would benefit the students to know who they are and what their contributions were.  D is for Democracy would work hand- in- hand with Virginia SOLs 2.10, 3.10, and 3.11 for civics in which students recognize the responsibilities of a good citizen, the importance of government, and the importance of the basic principles that form the foundation of a republican form of government.

Additional Resources:

  • This lesson plan takes students on a tour of their school and forces them to take a good look at the rules that are enforced.  They then compare these rules to the “rules” built into the U.S. Constitution.
  • In this activity, students learn about the landmark First Amendment case Tinker vs. Des Moines.  They read about it, reflect on the case, and then act out the case during class.
  • Students will make a Class Citizenship Tree in this lesson by completing the sentence, “I can help others by doing…”  After compiling a class list of good citizenship, each student picks an act that he or she will complete over the next couple weeks.

General Information:
Book: D is for Democracy
Author: Elissa Grodin
Illustrator: Victor Juhasz
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 3- 6
ISBN: 9781585362349