Teaching Civics With Children’s Literature: I Could Do That!


I Could Do That! by Linda Arms White and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter is the story of Esther Morris who led the way in getting voting rights for women in Wyoming, and was the first woman to hold public office in the United States.

 “In 1820, six-year-old Esther McQuigg studied her mother making tea. ‘I can do that,’ she said. ‘Make tea?’ asked Mama. ‘The older girls do that.’ ‘But I want to learn,’ said Esther, and she did.” This became Esther’s slogan so to speak. When there was a need she wanted to fill it. Whether it be making tea, helping support her family, opening a business, taking care of the sick or later becoming politically active, she did what she could. Esther was not easily discouraged. She didn’t care if she was “too young”, or “a woman” this didn’t matter. She didn’t let these small things stand in her way. It was this determination that led her to open her own business when she was only 19, and later lead the movement to get women the right to vote. Though she was the first female judge and the first woman to hold political office in the United States she was not able to vote in national elections. Women were not given this right until eighteen years after her death.

Curriculum Connections
I Could Do That! is suitable for 2nd and 3rd graders and compliments Virginia SOL 2.12, 3.10 and 3.11.While the reading level is quite easy for a third grader the story is applicable as it reinforces the ideas of determination, hard work, and civil rights. 

 Additional Resources

  • In the back of the book there is a list of several books that can be used as additional resources.
  • A third grade lesson plan teaching the Bill of Rights.
  • Women’s Suffrage Timeline: This is mostly useful for teachers, as it gives a concise timeline of the Suffrage movement.
  • Make ballot boxes or a voting booth with your students and hold class elections, in-class elections along side local or national elections.
  • Good Citizen lesson plan

Book: I Could Do That!
Linda Arms White
Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa Books
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 1-4
ISBN: 978-0-374-33527-4

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