A friend and fellow member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C. , Katherine Marsh was urging her son Sasha to stop teasing his five-year-old sister Natalia.
“She could be president someday,” said Katherine.
“But I don’t want to be president,” responded Natalia.
“Because I want to be a duck.”
Pamela Ehrenberg, another author friend, helpfully pointed out that Natalia could be both, recalling Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin.
Indeed, Duck for President is a perfect starting point to help students write about our own presidential election without sinking into the quicksand of the current campaign. Even the youngest children will appreciate Duck’s constant search for a job that isn’t such hard work.
Youngsters can write a sentence, a paragraph, a poem or a page –
· Would you like to be president? Why or why not?
· Write a list of fair rules for voters. This could be a class list. In Duck for President, Duck’s first list of voter registration rules said voters must live on the farm, show a valid ID and be at least as tall as Duck. The “mice got together and protested the height requirement. So Duck crossed it off.” (And there you have the beginnings of a discussion about how to change rules you don’t like.)
· What do you think is the hardest part of the president’s job?
· What would be the most fun?
For older students, there is a wealth of election and writing resources in the current issue of “Teaching Tolerance,” from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Students may end up agreeing with Duck that “running a country is no fun at all,” but at least they will appreciate the importance of carefully choosing the person who will.