Every four years, we head to the polls to elect, or reelect, our nation’s leader. While the act of voting is pretty straightforward, the process (and history!) is complex. How did elections begin? Is everyone allowed to vote? What is the electoral college? Explaining it all can be tricky. Whether you’re tackling the topic online or in person, here are some books about elections for kids to enhance your lesson.
WeAreTeachers may earn a few cents if you purchase using our links, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for keeping us in flair pens and coffee.
Best Books About Elections for Grades K–2
1. V Is For Voting by Kate Farrell and Caitlin Kuhwald
This book offers an engaging introduction to the tenets of democracy. It’s a playful but powerful primer about the importance of voting and activism.
Activity to try: Have younger students share what they feel are important issues and traits in a leader. Then, hold their first mock election!
2. Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President by Ann Malaspina and Steve James
Students may not know that not every citizen in the United States has always held the right to vote, but this look at Susan B. Anthony’s illegal trip to the ballot box provides an introduction to the suffrage movement and the history of voting equality.
Activity to try: Start with research and discussion on Black suffragists during this time. Then, have students make posters encouraging the adults to vote in November. Take pictures of the signs to create an online slideshow, too.
3. Vote! by Eileen Christelow
Parties, voter registration, campaigns, rallies, debates, Election Day, even a recount are all clearly presented in a graphic format as the story of a local election unfolds, with hilarious commentary by the candidates’ pets.
Activity to try: Have your students hold a vote for something like your next class pet or next year’s classroom theme. Ask kids on each side of the debate to make signs and hold mock rallies talking about their stance.
4. We Can Vote by Ann Bonwill
Is voting fair? How do elections work? In We Can Vote readers will investigate the process of voting-in their own lives and in their future-from researching choices to tallying results.
Activity to try: Have students discuss the pros and cons of each method!
Did you know that Election Day is on Tuesday because that was the best day for farmers to vote? Or that George Washington was our only elected president who ran unopposed? Or that Native Americans were only given the right to vote in 1924? This book about elections is filled with great facts for your lessons!
Activity to try: Have students discuss if there might be better days to vote.
This charming story captures the excitement of Election Day and encourages readers to ask the big question: Who will be our next president? Will our leader be a he or a she? A young citizen gives her take on politics in this sweet book told in the style of Clement C. Moore’s holiday poem.
Activity to try: Have students discuss the qualities they’d like to see in our next leader.
Best Books About Elections for Grades 3-5
7. Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans
As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a “long haul up a steep hill” to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky—she sees her family’s history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time.
Activity to try: Ask your students to go home and ask their parents or grandparents about the first time they voted, record what they find out, and report back to the class.
8. Where Do Presidents Come From? by Michael Townsend
This tongue-in-cheek, comic book-style guide to presidential history contains fun facts and trivia. It’s the kind of addition to your classroom library that could have students crowded around it during silent reading time. A must-have!
Activity to try: Invite students to learn more “secrets” about the presidents with this interactive tool from PBS.
9. Understanding Elections by
This book about elections gives students a clear understanding of government and politics while teaching the voting process and democracy concepts. Engaging activities that include analyzing and evaluating primary sources, participating in a mock election and debates, evaluating the electoral college, and more!
Activity to try: Host your own debates about a topic the class votes on.
Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people, and catalyst of change who opened the door for women in the political arena and for the first Black president of the United States.
Activity to try: Talk about the role some people have in paving the way for others.
What’s a ballot? Can you dance at a political party? And what do a donkey and an elephant have to do with it all? Election Day is coming up and with it comes a lot of questions about the U.S. electoral process. From campaigns and political parties to voting, kids can find out all about our elections.
Activity to try: Have kids choose their favorite fact and research it further to share with the class.
12. Act by Kayla Miller
Olive is excited to start sixth grade, but when she finds out that a school policy is keeping some kids from going on a field trip, she decides to act. She’s prepared to do whatever it takes to be heard—even if it means running against two of her closest friends in the student council election! With intense campaign competition and emotions running high, can Olive make a big change and keep her friends?
Activity to try: Start a discussion on the importance (and difficulty) of leaders standing up for what’s right, even if it means losing friends or followers.
Millions of women fought to get voting rights in the United States. They marched! They picketed! They even went to jail. But in the end, it all came down to a letter from a state representative’s mom. No joke. This book smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the fight for women’s suffrage.
Activity to try: Explore the strategies women used to win the right to vote? What made them successful?
Best Books About Elections for Grades 6-8
14. The Election Book: The People Pick a President by Carolyn Jackson
Dive into this introduction to the political process offering simple explanations of complex topics such as the electoral college and voter’s rights. In addition to helping students understand this year’s campaigns, it may inspire them to become involved in politics themselves.
Activity to try: Challenge students to stage a mock election between the real candidates or a pair of fun stand-ins (such as Coke vs Pepsi or Harry Potter vs Percy Jackson).
15. Running by Natalia Sylvester
When fifteen-year-old Cuban American Mariana Ruiz’s father runs for president, Mari starts to see him with new eyes. A novel about waking up and standing up, and what happens when you stop seeing your dad as your hero—while the whole country is watching.
Activity to try: Have students think about how they’d feel and how their lives might change if a member of their family ran for president.
Best Books About Elections for Grades 9–12
16. Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman
Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit it from the moment the act was signed into law.
Activity to try: Have your students research the ways in which people are kept from voting today. You may want to include guidance on looking for bias in the news.
17. Tension City by Jim Lehrer
Students will gain a better understanding of the ins and outs of politics and speech-making through this compelling account, which describes what it’s like to be front and center as moderator at the presidential debates.
Activity to try: Watch clips of some of the debates Lehrer describes on YouTube.
18. Hartsburg, USA: A Novel by David Mizner
Hartsburg, Ohio, is a vintage rust-belt town on the wane; the factories and foundries are closed. And as the local cineplex gives way to yet another fundamentalist church, an ideological turf war has begun. Oppressed by a dominant culture hostile to her values, born-again Christian mom Bevy Baer decides to run for a spot on the school board. Her plucky door-to-door campaign finds trouble when it runs into Wallace Cormier.
Activity to try: Have your students interview members of your local school board about how they were elected.
Did we miss any good books about elections for kids? Let us know in the comment section! Plus check out How to Teach Politics in Class (And Live to Tell About It).
If these ideas inspired you, join our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group and come talk with the very teachers who suggested them!