Book Review: America Votes

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also on This Subject

• How the President Is Elected
• The Electoral College

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This amazing book from Kids Can Press is quite possibly the best book about the American electoral process in many a year. It is simply full of helpful and useful information, presented in a helpful and useful way, with fun pictures and helpful graphics.

It is outstanding in its presentation and usability, and its lively text (by Linda Granfield) and appealing, multicultural illustrations (by Steve Bjorkman) make it a true find for any teacher and/or student of American government (or even an adult studying for a civics test).

Each facet of the American electoral process is examined in quite great detail, yet this potentially monumental amount of information is presented in such an entertaining way that the reader has fun while learning!

Rather than avoiding the controversial 2000 presidential election, the book makes a point of describing the "chad" system and how it led to so much disagreement.

The book has the standard laundry list of minutiae, coupled with interesting timelines and statistics and maps and glossaries such. But what really makes this book stand out is the "little touches" that are included:

  • a feature on gerrymandering, including a description of how the practice got its name;
  • a detailed look at the presidency, including its duties and qualifications;
  • a glimpse of political parties of the past, including the Whigs, Federalists, and Democratic-Republicans;
  • an explanation of why different political philosophies are described as "the left" and "the right";
  • a short blip about "Delegate Barbie," the Mattel doll who took the 2000 nomination conventions by storm;
  • a too-fun-for-school feature on slogans and collectibles of the past;
  • a recipe for Election Cake, which appeared in America's first cookbook, way back in 1796, and fed all who attended John Adams's victory party;
  • a fun and funny examination of animal terms used in politics ("lame duck," "dark horse," etc.);
  • and a look at the possible dangers of Ms. Krime, who serves to illustrate the different kinds of election fraud that can take place.

All in all, it's an amazing book that deserves to be read cover-to-cover, by children and adults alike.

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