Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: So You Want to Be President?

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So You Want to Be President? is a humorous look at the responsibilities of the President of the United States.  This story can be used to describe what the President does, along with some information on some of our past presidents.

“One thing is certain, if you want to be President – and stay President – be honest.  Harry Truman paid for his own postage stamps.  Grover Cleveland was famous for his motto:  ‘Tell the truth’.  Other Presidents weren’t so honest.  Democrat Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath.”

This story also talks about some everyday activities that Presidents do, or don’t do, that would relate to student’s every day lives.

“Some Presidents knew how to dance and some didn’t.  Our first President did a mean minuet.  At his inaugural ball George Washington danced with every lady but his wife.  (Mrs. W had stayed home!)”

This story should be used with an extension about President Obama as it mentions that:

“Every President was different from every other and yet no woman has been president.  No person of color has been President.  No person who wasn’t a Protestant or a Roman Catholic has been President.  But if you care enough, anything is possible.”

Curriculum Connections:

This story aligns with VA Civics SOL K.9, expressing that Kindergarteners should understand that the President is the leader of the United States.  This story however can easily be used with older students to introduce learning about biographies of individual presidents.

Additional Resources:

Scholastic’s website has an audio recording of the story along with expansion questions about the story, and a connection to President Obama.

Eduscape’s website has a plethora of resources relating to Presidents, connecting them to the story for older students.

Apples4theteacher.com provides activities for President’s Day for a wide age range of students.

General Information:
Book:  So You Want to Be President?
Author:  Judith St. George
Illustrator:  David Small
Publisher:  Philomel
Publication Date:  August 21, 2000
ISBN-13: 978-0399234071