Voting Is About Teaching Our Children That Their Voices Matter … And 9 Book Recommendations

A dear virtual friend (like, really really dear) is sharing an amazing post about the election! If you’re a homeschooling mama or just one who likes to keep their littles abreast on current events, you won’t want to miss it!


 

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Hi, I’m Laura. I’m a homeschool mom and a work-at-home mom. Things I am passionate about: My kids, reading, good coffee and our environment. I’m sure you can agree that when you have an area about your life that you are passionate about, it spills over into the rest of your life. Not unlike my coffee yesterday. 

This year, I got my teacher’s library card early. It doubles the amount of time I’ve got to keep our books out on loan and I am so in love. Also, our library is the greatest. I just love reading with the kids and even more when we can theme our book choices around our current interests. Because this is an election year and I’ve been working on getting people in Ohio to vote for clean energy solutions this November, voting has been at the front of my mind. My kids understand the concept of voting, but they just assumed it was something we do, not something that we have earned. Right now, it’s about waiting in line and earning a sticker at the end.

Teaching moment! So off to the library we went. It’s tough raising kids in this day and age, and I certainly do not claim to have everything figured out, so I am ever grateful for books! There are many books and resources out there to help us start the conversation about voting and our civil responsibilities with our children, regardless of their age. Our kids get the opportunity grow up in a world knowing that regardless of their gender, they can make a difference. But a hundred years ago, women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony had to fight, quite literally, to have a voice. 

I grabbed a stack of picture books from the library and we settled in to read. The first one, and one of my favorites, is Elizabeth Leads the Way. I have a son and a daughter and asking the question from page one of the story, “what would you do if someone told you can’t be what you want to be because you are a girl?” sparked a long discussion. My children have the potential to be whatever they desire, but being the little sister, Sylvia has certainly been told she cannot because she’s too little. She was offended by the question. She was angry for Elizabeth!

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Every child can identify with being left out of something because of their size or their age or some other qualification, and using those experiences, we can help them to connect with these stories of the women who decided they were done being left out. And as Moms, the idea of being excluded can be emotional as well. As I thought about these women who worked so hard to pave a way for other women to have a voice, knowing full well they might not see it in their lifetime, I realized the enormity of our privilege.

At the same time, that privilege comes with responsibility to teach our children that their voice does matter. It feels like we are just the tiniest blip on the human timeline sometimes, but without our voices, how will our local governments know what is important to us? And if we don’t teach our children now about the sacrifices people made so that we can live in a country that allows men and women of all colors to vote, who else will teach them?

So we talk and we read. When my children turn 18, I want them to be able to walk into their polling booth confident of their participation. I want them to vote with their own convictions and not because they think they “should” vote a certain way. To help you get started on your own library book list, here are a few of my favorite resources for reading with your kids about voting. They are listed from a sweet board book about presidents to historical diaries from the Suffragettes. I hope you can snuggle up with your little ones soon, reading about how our history has made the way for our future. 

This Little President: A Presidential Primer by Joan Holub

If I Were President by Catherine Stier and Diane DiSalvo-Ryan

Marching with Aunt Susan by Claire Rudolf Murphy

Elizabeth Leads the Way by Tanya Lee Stone

Vote! By Eileen Christelow

The Ballot Box Battle by Emily Arnold McCully

Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter and Shane E. Evans

A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen by Kathryn Lasky

Looking for more? Aspire to Inspire Classroom has resources for 4th-8th graders learning about the election process and includes activities for the 2016 election year.


headshot3Laura Burns is mom to Liam (7) and Sylvia (5). Laura is also a field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio, advocating for clean air and children’s health. Together with Laura’s husband (and SuperDad, Matt), the family builds with legos, loves their pugs and reads piles and piles of books.

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