As Election Day 2020 approaches, students may have questions about social and political issues. These books break down complex ideas for young readers and cover topics like civics, voting laws, gun control, reproductive rights, analyzing news reports, understanding articles of impeachment, and more.
Click the tabs below to view book recommendations
for readers of all ages.
V is for Voting by Kate Farrell; illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald
V Is for Voting is an ABC book that introduces progressive families to concepts like social justice and civil rights and reminds readers that every vote counts!
A is for active participation.
B is for building a more equal nation.
C is for citizens’ rights and our duty.
D is for difference, our strength and our beauty.
“If ever an alphabet book packed a punch, this one is it…Forceful and exhilarating.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A great lever for voters, present and future.”—Booklist
Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg by Rob Sanders; illustrated by Levi Hastings
Get to know Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a first-of-his-kind candidate running for a one-of-a-kind office, in Rob Sanders’ inspiring picture book biography, featuring illustrations by Levi Hastings.
“An important picture book biography.”—School Library Journal
“Be inspired by the life of Pete Buttigieg.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Grounded in the theme of losses and wins that carries readers into the future…well worth the while.”—Booklist
Voices of Justice: Poems About People Working for a Better World by George Ella Lyon; illustrated by Jennifer M. Potter
Available October 13, 2020
A bold, lyrical collection of poems that highlight some of the most celebrated activists from around the world and throughout history.
In the face of injustice, the world has always looked to brave individuals to speak up and spark change. Nelson Mandela used his voice to bring down Apartheid. Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutè Galdikas gave a voice to the primates who couldn’t speak for themselves. The Women of Greenham Common used their collective voice to fight against preparations for nuclear war. And today’s youth—like Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the students of Stoneman Douglas High School, and Greta Thunberg—unite their voices to stop gun violence, save the planet, and so much more.
An Equal Shot: How the Law Title IX Changed America by Helaine Becker; illustrations by Dow Phumiruk
Available February 23, 2021
Helaine Becker’s An Equal Shot is a nonfiction picture book introduction to the history and importance of Title IX as civil rights legislature, featuring illustrations by Dow Phumiruk.
You’ve likely heard of the law Title IX. It protects the equal rights of students, athletes, and professionals in America regardless of gender. But do you know about the women who fought to enact this new law?
Here is the rousing account of how Title IX was shaped at the hands of brave politicians who took risks to secure women’s dreams and their futures under the Constitution. Told in simple, commanding prose, An Equal Shot celebrates the power of words to defend and unite vulnerable people.
When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You by Eleanor Roosevelt with Michelle Markel; illustrated by Grace Lin
Eleanor Roosevelt’s book on citizenship for young people now revised and updated for a contemporary audience!
In the voice of one of the most iconic and beloved political figures of the twentieth century comes a book on citizenship for the future voters of the twenty-first century. Eleanor Roosevelt published the original edition of When You Grow Up to Vote in 1932, the same year her husband was elected president. The new edition has updated information and back matter as well as fresh, bold art from award-winning artist Grace Lin. Beginning with government workers like firefighters and garbage collectors, and moving up through local government to the national stage, this book explains that the people in government work the voter.
Fresh, contemporary, and even fun, When You Grow Up to Vote is the book parents and teachers need to talk to children about how our government is designed to work.
★ “Lively, lucid, and timely.” —Kirkus, starred review
“A solid, informative choice for nonfiction collections that incorporates detailed information in a child-friendly style.”—School Library Journal
“A colorful, updated look at what Eleanor Roosevelt wanted to impart to children about the exciting possibilities of growing up and voting.”—Booklist
Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel
The votes are in–it’s a Bad Kitty landslide!
It’s time to elect a new president of the Neighborhood Cat Coalition! Who will win the election? The candidate chosen by the kitties on the right side of the street or the candidate chosen by the kitties on the left side of the street? When election time rolls around, one candidate (guess who?) will discover that she never bothered to register to vote and the entire election will be decided by a surprise, last minute absentee ballot sent by Old Kitty.
“While there is no doubt that Bad Kitty for President will provide some good-old page-turning enjoyment, readers should come away with some election knowledge to boot.” —School Library Journal
Bringing Down a President: The Watergate Scandal by Andrea Balis and Elizabeth Levy; illustrations by Tim Foley
A middle-grade retelling of Richard Nixon’s downfall, Bringing Down A President: The Watergate Scandal is an inventive and timely look at one of the biggest scandals to ever rock our nation by Andrea Balis and Elizabeth Levy, featuring graphic novel style illustrations by Tim Foley.
Comprised almost completely of primary source quotes (good thing Nixon’s recorder was on) and interspersed with contextual narrative, this captivating account of the trials and tribulations of the Nixon Administration has been rendered screenplay style offering an extraordinarily immediate narrative of one of America’s most turbulent eras.
★ “This valuable book reminds us that we can learn from the lessons of history and so avoid reprising the dark days of this national nightmare.” —Booklist, starred review
Whose Right Is It? The Second Amendment and the Fight Over Guns by Hana Bajramovic
Discover the truth about the Second Amendment, the NRA, and the United States’ centuries-long fight over guns in this first-of-its-kind book for middle grade readers.
“A compelling, clear analysis of one of our country’s oldest dilemmas: how to balance gun rights with public safety. It tells the full and true story of the Second Amendment, and points to a way to bring sanity to our gun laws. A remarkable primer for all ages.” —Michael Waldman, author of The Second Amendment: A Biography
Hana Bajramovic’s Whose Right Is It? The Second Amendment and the Fight Over Guns reveals how a once obscure amendment became the focus of daily heated debate. Filled with historical photos and informative graphics, the book will show young readers how gun legislation has always been a part of American history and how money, power, and race have long dictated our ability to own guns.
“The story is fascinating and, in its evenhanded treatment of the subject, valuable for research and classroom use…Extremely well documented, the book concludes with an epilogue that brings the book up-to-date, making it both important and timely.”—Booklist
True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis
A former CIA analyst unveils the true history of fake news and gives readers tips on how to avoid falling victim to it in this highly designed informative YA nonfiction title.
“Fake news” is a term you’ve probably heard a lot in the last few years, but it’s not a new phenomenon. From the ancient Egyptians to the French Revolution to Jack the Ripper and the founding fathers, fake news has been around as long as human civilization. But that doesn’t mean that we should just give up on the idea of finding the truth.
In True or False, former CIA analyst Cindy Otis will take readers through the history and impact of misinformation over the centuries, sharing stories from the past and insights that readers today can gain from them. Then, she shares lessons learned in over a decade working for the CIA, including actionable tips on how to spot fake news, how to make sense of the information we receive each day, and, perhaps most importantly, how to understand and see past our own information biases, so that we can think critically about important issues and put events happening around us into context.
True or False includes a wealth of photo illustrations, informative inserts, and sidebars containing interesting facts and trivia sure to engage readers in critical thinking and analysis.
★ “A necessary and engaging resource that should be required reading for all high school students…The book’s droll tone and quick pace will thoroughly engage even those who dislike nonfiction; all readers will be empowered with a more critical eye when browsing their news feeds.” —School Library Journal, starred review
Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal
From award-winning author Karen Blumenthal, Jane Against the World is deep and passionate look at the riveting history of the fight for reproductive rights in the United States.
This eye-opening book is the perfect tool to facilitate difficult discussions and awareness of a topic that is rarely touched on in school but affects each and every young person. It’s also perfect for fans of Steve Sheinkin and Deborah Heiligman.
This journalistic look at the history of abortion and the landmark case of Roe v. Wade is an important and necessary book.
“Jane Against the World reads, at times, like a legal thriller. I kept reminding myself, “Wait, I know how this ends.”…Blumenthal has done her job well: presenting the history, and leaving readers to wrestle with what the future may hold for families facing unwanted pregnancies.”—The New York Times
★ “An account of the tumultuous struggle for abortion rights in the United States…Gripping reading; necessary for every library serving teens.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ “This essential guide, which gives voices to vulnerable populations, demands to be heard.”—Booklist, starred review
When They Call You A Terrorist (Young Adult Edition): A Story of Black Lives Matter and the Power to Change the World by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele; adapted by Benee Knauer
Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ and asha bandele’s instant New York Times bestseller, When They Call You a Terrorist is now adapted for the YA audience with photos and journal entries!
A movement that started with a hashtag–#BlackLivesMatter–on Twitter spread across the nation and then across the world.
From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful.
In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.
“A gripping, much-needed memoir about a Black woman, a movement, and people fighting for freedom denied.”—Kirkus
“This memoir is a reflection on humanity, lauded as an empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, and is the kind of call to action we need now more than ever.”—Book Riot
Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy by Kenneth C. Davis
From the bestselling author of the Don’t Know Much About® books comes a dramatic account of the origins of democracy, the history of authoritarianism, and the reigns of five of history’s deadliest dictators.
What makes a country fall to a dictator? How do authoritarian leaders—strongmen—capable of killing millions acquire their power? How are they able to defeat the ideal of democracy? And what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
By profiling five of the most notoriously ruthless dictators in history—Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein—Kenneth C. Davis seeks to answer these questions, examining the forces in these strongmen’s personal lives and historical periods that shaped the leaders they’d become.
Meticulously researched and complete with photographs, Strongman provides insight into the lives of five leaders who callously transformed the world and serves as an invaluable resource in an era when democracy itself seems in peril.
★ “History’s warnings reverberate in this gripping read about five dictatorial strongmen. A pitch-perfect balance of nuanced reflection and dire warning.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Don’t forget to register to vote!
If you haven’t already, check your state’s voter registration deadline and register to vote today!
If you plan to vote by mail, don’t forget to check your state’s vote-by-mail deadline! USPS recommends mailing in your ballot at least 2 weeks prior to Election Day. Plan to send in your mail-in ballot by Tuesday, October 20th!
Related Post: Talking to Kids About Current Events
Not sure how to talk to kids about tough topics like how germs spread or why everyone seems so worried and saddened by the news? These books provide an accessible way to talk to kids about those big topics. Learn more about these books here.