Presidents’ Day Books for Kids

Book recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar

February is a great time for reading about American history. It’s when we celebrate President’s Day and Black History Month. There are so many excellent books you can share with your kids. This year being an election year is an especially good time to talk about and study the presidency, so I’m going to focus on those books. But be sure to check out the books at your library highlighting Black History Month as well.

Books about Lincoln:

There are so many books about Lincoln that Ford’s theater commissioned a sculpture made up entirely of books about Lincoln. It’s three stories high and represents only a fraction of the 15,000 books written about what may be our most beloved president. Most of those are books for adults but there is not shortage of books written for kids about Lincoln. A few of our favorites are:

Looking for Lincoln by Maria Kalman follows a young girl as she researches Lincoln and tries to learn more about him. In addition to the well-known facts we learn about things like his love for vanilla cake and his dog Fido.

Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters looks at Lincoln’s boyhood and focuses on his love of reading and learning.

Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport and Kadir Nelson is a stunningly beautiful book that features the words of Lincoln himself. (Side note…it’s part of a series of Big Words biographies by the same author/illustrator duo. They are all fabulous and include ones on Martin Luther King Jr. and Fredrick Douglas.)

Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells looks at Lincoln through the eyes of his sons and so gives us more of a picture of the man and father rather than the President.

Abe Lincoln’s Dream by Lane Smith tells the story of a young girl who gets separated from her class on a school field trip to the White House and ends up meeting Lincoln’s ghost. She then takes him on a trip around the country, showing him what has happened since he died.

Books about the Presidency:

So You Want to Be President? By Judith St. George and David Small is a classic children’s book that looks at the first 42 presidents. It’s a great overview of the presidents and includes funny facts about each one.

If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House by Jane O’Connor is another great overview of the presidents and looks in particular at what life at the White House was like for each one.

Presidential Pets: The Weird, Wacky, Little, Big, Scary, Strange Animals That Have Lived in the White House by Julia Moberg is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Kids who love animals will especially love discovering that John Quincy Adams had an alligator or that Martin Van Buren had two baby tigers.

White House Kids: The Perks, Pleasures, Problems and Pratfalls of the President’s Children by Joe Rhatigan is sure to appeal to kids who may wonder what it’s like to live in the most famous house in the country.

Yo, Millard Fillmore! (And all those other President’s you don’t know) by Will Cleveland is a fun comic book style look at all the presidents.

Rutherford B, Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer has a poem about each president from Washington to Obama. Short biographies, quotes by each president and quirky illustrations make this a fun read.

And finally…just becuase…President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett and Chris Van Dusen is just plain wonderful silliness. The episode it’s based on is probably apocryphal but that doesn’t make this book any less funny and fun to read.