Presidents' Day

   Presidents' Day has a long history in the United States. It was established back in 1800 to celebrate George Washington's birthday with a federal holiday. In the early 1970s the holiday began to be referred to as Presidents' Day due to its close proximity to another President's birthday: Abraham Lincoln. Today, in addition to honoring President's Washington and Lincoln it also celebrates the legacies of all U.S. presidents. However, the official name of the holiday is still Washington's Birthday.

   In 1968 Congress passed a bill moving federal holidays to Mondays and since its enactment in 1971 this holiday has been celebrated on the third Monday of every February. This year it falls on Monday, February 20, 2012.

   Putting together a recommending reading list for a topic such as Presidents' Day is so simple with CLCD. We give you the tools to easily search for books about American presidents-no matter how specific or broad your criteria.

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Contributor: Emily Griffin


Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom
Jodi Anderson, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Andisheh Nouraee

American citizens should be aware of how the government works and why so they can make a difference. A roadblock to some is that civics may seem dry. Humor, pop culture, and pictures of adorable animals are not usually part of the delivery. As the authors say, "This is a new kind of resource-not a textbook and not a parody but a primer that combines the best elements of both." A broader range of topics is covered, but the scope is similar to Jon Stewart's America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (Grand, 2004). Cleverly named chapters are devoted to civics, dynasties, economics, religion, contemporary issues, and volunteerism, such as "Diplo-Messy (Foreign Affairs&ndsh;But Not in the 'People I've Kissed on Vacation' Sense)." Written for novices of any age or those who would like a refresher course, concepts are simplified and understandable. Those struggling to grasp current events might find this helpful as well. Resources are listed for those looking for more in-depth information. The accuracy and unbiased nature of the information is left for the reader to decide. The authors do not claim to be correct and encourage readers to e-mail their complaints. The conclusion encourages involvement and has a list of organizations whose interests match certain issues. This book is worth purchasing to flip through and read sporadically. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2011, Walker, 240p.; Index. Illus. Photos. Charts. Source Notes. Further Reading, $24.99. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Lori Guenthner (VOYA, April 2011 (Vol. 34, No. 1)).
ISBN: 9780802797926

A Boy Named FDR: How Franklin D. Roosevelt Grew Up to Change America
Kathleen Krull
Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

One of history's mysteries is why President Franklin D. Roosevelt did so much for ordinary people in America. After all, he was the "ultimate rich kid." Krull never loses site of this theme, introduced in her opening lines, and the focus lends shape and clarity to this biography, which covers Roosevelt's life from childhood through his polio rehabilitation. The chatty, just-short-of snarky narration that delights readers of Krull's "Lives of." series is much in evidence here: "He had a fancy name....He slept in a fancy hand-carved cradle. He drank out of a fancy silver cup from Russia. He...wore dresses with fancy lace collars until he was almost six. Fancy FDR." But without hammering the message home, Krull steadily notes the many influences in Roosevelt's life that transformed him from privileged boy into compassionate leader: open-minded parents; socially conscious tutors; that paragon of self-reliance, cousin Theodore Roosevelt; the experience of being on the social fringe at Groton; and, most importantly, his forward-thinking wife, Eleanor. Johnson and Fancher's full-page and full-spread paintings, softly stippled and subtly imbued with an amber glow, gently emphasize FDR's square-jawed, patrician good looks and Eleanor's dignified plainness, without resorting to broad caricature. Krull appends a page of information on FDR's presidency, as well as a timeline infused with FDR quotations, and a list of sources with child-appropriate titles highlighted. Substantive and accessible, this will be a particularly rewarding title for readers who might struggle with longer biographical works. Review Code: R - Recommended. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2011, Knopf, 44p.; Reviewed from galleys, $20.99 and $17.99. Grades 2-5. Reviewer: Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2011 (Vol. 64, No. 6)).
ISBN: 9780375857164

Chasing George Washington
Ronald Kidd
Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

This fun tour of the White House is adapted from a play by Karen Zacarias and Deborah Wicks La Puma. Told from the perspective of Dee, who is your basic Valley Girl type, Josť, a Hispanic dude from L.A., and Annie, a Polish immigrant who learned English from watching movies; the book tells a little about the White House's history and what it has in it. The children are bored until George Washington himself steps out of his picture and takes them on his own special tour. Along the way they see Susan Ford's high school prom, which her father-President Gerald Ford-let her have at the White House. They see Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy's children playing. Plus they learn the White House has been home to many pets, including ponies and they learn that there are a swimming pool, tennis courts, a movie theater, and a bowling alley located in the mansion. But as amazing as learning about that, the kids see a bit of history, such as President Lincoln signing the Emancipation of Slaves proclamation. After President Washington climbs back into his painting, the children leave the White House; but at least three of them feel it really is their house, not just a stodgy museum. The book is even more special because of its forward by First Lady Michelle Obama. 2011 (orig. 2009), Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Publishing, Ages 7 to 10, $5.99. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781416948612

The Handy Presidents Answer Book
David L. Hudson

One in the series of "Answer Books," this second edition updates questions about the Office of the President of the United States, and ones asked about individual presidents, political parties, platforms and elections. Beginning with the official duties of president, parties, platforms and elections, the book goes on to feature questions about each president concerning their early life and family, early career, political offices, presidency, and post-presidency. The questions vary among these headings, depending on the president and historical time in which he served. Averaging from eight to twelve pages long, the chapters feature not only historical data but a personal look at the man who was president in a manner that will keep the interest of young readers. Black and white photos and period illustrations give insight into the changing times; it is a refreshing way to look at history and government for an audience that can find it irrelevant at times. Students will be particularly interested in the personal aspects of the men who seem so removed from our lives in most history books. Many first ladies are mentioned, which is refreshing. Placing the president within the happenings of the period supports understanding, as well. A comprehensive index is included. 2012, Visible Ink Press, Ages 10 to 14, $21.95. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D. (Children's Literature)
ISBN: 9781578593170

I Grew Up To Be President
Laurie Calkhoven

A nonfiction account of each man who has been President of the Unites States-from George Washington all the way to Barack Obama will intrigue students. A one-page introduction explains how the thirteen colonies won their independence from Great Britain and how a new government was formed. This paperback title from Scholastic is geared to children age's seven to ten. Each president is given a full page spread. A Fact File box presents a photograph or painting and the basics: date of birth, spouse, children, Vice President, political party, and date/location of death. A few brief paragraphs provides information about each man-his childhood, presidency, and legacy. Two to four "starred" points, highlighting interesting facts or memorable moments from their time period to finish each account. Did you know President Hayes and his wife held the first Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, or that during WWII John F. Kennedy swam four miles carrying an injured man by his life vest to safety after the boat under his command was destroyed by the Japanese? Other historical tidbits include how President Nixon visited China after the Chinese hosted an American Ping-Pong team. This title may best be used for helping students learn about all of the American presidents, not just the more famous of this unique group of men. 2011, Scholastic, Ages 7 to 10, $8.99. Reviewer: Emily Griffin (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780545331524

Kennedy Through the Lens: How Photography and Television Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Leader
Martin W. Sandler

Subtitled "How Photography and Television Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Leader," Sandler looks back at President John F. Kennedy fifty years after his inauguration as the thirty-fifth President of the United States. Through carefully selected photographs and a streamlined text, readers will understand how television and photographs shaped his presidency. Major challenges, such as the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, the space race, and the civil rights movement are presented. The presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon that changed American politics, the assassination of Kennedy, and his funeral elucidate the time period. Family background and relaxing times at the compound in Hyannis are also here. The photographs, their captions, and the quotes from Kennedy, along with the text, provide insight into this charismatic, articulate, inspirational, and photographic president. Sandler has rightfully selected many well-known photos. This is a fine introduction to JFK and his administration for all readers. With its many full-page photographs, this title will engage reluctant readers. Back matter includes descriptions of three places to visit, a bibliography, and websites. Within the sources, he gives directions on how to access photos online at the JFK Library. Sources are provided for the Kennedy quotes that appear on each double-page spread. Recommended for all libraries. Reviewed in galley. The final book will be high-resolution, full-color on glossy stock. 2011, Walker Books for Young Readers, Ages 9 to 14, $19.99. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780802721600

The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon
Carla Killough McClafferty

In recent years efforts have been made by the staff of the Mount Vernon Historical Site to remake the exhibits which present George Washington at various stages of his life. As part of that revision process, concentrated efforts were made to recreate three distinct models of Washington's face and physical characteristics. In order to make these figures as realistic and accurate as possible the museum staff utilized the services of anthropologists, master craftsmen, artists, and historians. The search process involved carefully analyzing existing sculptures of Washington, paintings, historical records, and the material objects belonging to Washington such as dentures that have been preserved over time. In this publication readers are given a two-fold look at the world and physiognomy of the first President of the United States. First, the author takes her readers into the world of the specialists who were charged with recreating George Washington for the viewing public. This portion of the book is fascinating and includes descriptions of the ways in which talented people were able to pool their respective gifts to create truly amazing renditions of President Washington. Additionally, the author provides a well-crafted biography of George Washington which places the artistic reconstruction work in a historical context. This combined approach comes together well and results in a book that tells an intriguing story about an exceptional person. 2011, Carolrhoda Books, Ages 12 up, $20.95. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761356080

The President's Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems of the Presidents
Susan Katz
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker

Susan Katz has turned amusing facts about American Presidents into rhyme. She begins with the fact that George Washington never slept in the Whilte House-although he designed it, the building was not finished until John Adam's term. As for John Adams, we learn he was called "His Rotundity" instead of the title of "His Majesty" which he advocated should be used for the President. Most of the Presidents through Woodrow Wilson are included-he was the one who kept sheep on the White House Lawn as part of the WW1 effort. The title of each poem fits the topic but is followed by the president's name and dates as president; each verse is followed by a short factual note. Neubecker's good humored illustrations complement the light hearted tone of the text. All in all, middle schoolers introduced to this book are likely to decide history is not all dry as dust. 2011, Clarion: Houghton Mifflin, Ages 8 to 12, $17.99. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-547-18221-6

Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities
Brandon Marie Miller

Miller has done an excellent job of balancing the need to keep this book simple enough for midgrade readers while still presenting a very well-researched and complex view of Jefferson's life. This biography begins with a brief introduction to Jefferson's parents and then moves chronologically through his life including his years as a bright, hardworking student at William & Mary, his involvement in the emerging new nation, his presidency and his final years surrounded by his grandchildren. The description of his early years is thorough enough to help readers understand some of Jefferson's political and personal actions. Miller also details Jefferson's many achievements and his commitment to developing a strong new government even after leaving the presidency. However, the author doesn't shy away from presenting the other side of this complex man. We learn of Jefferson's slave ownership and the fact that he fathered a son with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves, despite the fact that he spoke out publically against slavery and believed that all men should be free. Because Jefferson was so involved in the politics of his times, readers are treated to discussion of many complex historical issues such as the Alien and Sedition Act, the organization of a national bank and the development of trade treaties with European nations. The generous use of illustrations, primarily photographs, and the large page format will make this volume accessible for younger readers. Twenty-one activities such as building a simple microscope and plotting a map that are of this historical period will help bring the text to life. This is an excellent classroom resource which also includes a timeline, an explanation of primary sources, Web and travel resources and suggested additional reading. 2011, Chicago Review Press, Ages 9 to 13, $16.95. Reviewer: Leigh Geiger, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781569763483

What Does the President Look Like?
Jane Hampton Cook
Illustrated by Adam Ziskie

Before photography and television, the only way people knew what the President of the United States looked like was from a drawing or painting. George Washington, the first President of the United States, was painted in 1795. Hearing about the painting, many people were curious and asked to see it. In 1796, the painting was hung in Philadelphia's City Hall for all of the public to view. Presidents were also illustrated in political cartoons in newspapers, allowing more of the public to see what they looked like. The first political cartoon was made in 1789. Following the advent of political cartoons, candidates were drawn on posters. The first election posters were printed in 1844. In 1846, the first photograph of a president (James Polk) was taken. Abraham Lincoln believed that having a photograph of himself looking like a normal person helped him win the election. By using a stereograph and special 3-D glasses, in 1886, one could view President Grover Cleveland and his wife. This interesting book takes a person from 1795 through 2011 and explains the different methods by which a person could see a visual depiction of a President of the United States. Fascinating facts about past presidents are mentioned on each page. The illustrations are intriguing and clear. Three children of different races are shown on each page. The font is clear and easy to read. The text and illustrations are intertwined nicely. At the back of the book is a two-page spread of illustrations of each president, as well as a listing of presidential libraries and museums as well as additional resources. This picture book would make a nice addition in an elementary social studies class as well as a good reference in an elementary school library. 2011, Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, Ages 4 to 6, $16.99. Reviewer: Cheryl Williams Chang (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781935279631

Updated 1/26/12

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