I’ve taken my toddler to just about every election since her birth. We both get “I Voted” stickers, then I take pictures and post them to social media. But I hadn’t really discussed what voting is all about with her until recently. My SO and I have talked more about voting in the past month than we have in the last two and a half years of my toddler’s life. Because of that, I’ve been checking out children’s books about voting from the library and purchasing our favorites so that she can be part of our conversation, however limited that may be. It’s never too early to learn about the voting process, particularly right now when there’s a major election ahead and caretakers will be discussing voting at home. Voting is such an important civic activity, and children who discuss voting with their parents at home are more likely to vote when they’re adults.
Our eleven favorite children’s books about voting range from board books perfect for baby hands to picture books with informative supplementary pages.
ELEVEN CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT VOTING AND ELECTIONS
Baby Loves Political Science: Democracy! BY RUTH SPIRO AND GREG PAPROCKI
This board book explains voting in a toddler appropriate way. I’m a big fan of the Baby Loves board book series by Ruth Spiro, and I’m delighted she’s branched out into politics. The book covers candidates, rallies, and the voting process, and taught my 2-year-old the word “candidate.”
Citizen Baby: My Vote BY MEGAN E. BRYANT, DANIEL PROSTERMAN, AND MICAH PLAYER
Citizen Baby is a board book series all about how to be a good citizen. Previous books in the series have tackled Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidency. Now, it’s time for baby to learn about voting. The prose is short, sweet, and simple—perfect for baby attention spans—and the art features adorable, diverse babies and toddlers.
Go Vote, Baby! BY NANCY LAMBERT AND ANNE PASSCHIER
In this board book, babies and toddlers can cast their vote and practice their fine motor skills by sliding panels on each page. Babies and toddlers vote on what they want to wear today, what toy they want to play with, which ice cream flavor is their favorite, and more. While this book doesn’t discuss the actual voting and election process, it is a good primer on choice.
V is for Votes! A Suffragette Alphabet – 100 Years of Female Suffrage! BY ERIN ROSE WAGE AND JANE PICA
This alphabet board book focuses on the U.S. Women’s Suffrage Movement and pairs each letter of the alphabet with a suffragist—from Carrie Chapman Catt to Sojourner Truth—or an aspect of the movement—like “Justice” and the “Declaration of Sentiments.” For more books about the movement, check out these two lists.
V Is for Voting BY KATE FARRELL AND CAITLIN KUHWALD
This is another alphabet book, this time in picture book format. Each letter covers an aspect of being a good citizen: “A is for active participation. B is for building a more equal nation.” The illustrations feature diverse children and adults, and the final two pages give a brief timeline of voting, suggestions on how children can participate as citizens—even though they’re unable to vote—and the names of the voting rights activists pictured in the book. This would be a great starting point for discussing civic engagement with Pre-K to early elementary-aged children, and it’s also toddler friendly.
If You Go with Your Goat to Vote BY JAN ZAUZMER, ILLUSTRATED BY ANDREW ROBERTS
This rhythmic picture book full of wordplay follows animals and their children on their way to their voting station. “If you are a gosling and you go with your gander to vote,” one passage says, “you may get goose bumps when you see the list of candidates.” It’s one of my toddler’s favorite books on this list because she loves all the animals! It’s a super fun and playful introduction to voting, and it comes with a full page of voting stickers in the back of the book. My daughter took them all out within minutes. 🙂
Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America BY DEBORAH DIESEN AND MAGDALENA MORA
I adore this picture book about the history of voting rights in the United States. With rhyming text and steady pacing, it’s an excellent read-aloud. It’s also one of the few books on this list that addresses discrimination in the U.S.’s voting history, and it does so directly and in a child-friendly way. It includes more information in the back of the book about voting-related amendments, legislation, and activists. It’s a perfect read for Pre-K through early elementary-aged children, though my toddler loves it, too.
Vote for Our Future! BY MARGARET MCNAMARA AND MICAH PLAYER
Many schools serve as voting locations. This picture book is about an elementary school that closes every two years on the first Tuesday of November to serve as a polling station. Even though the students are too young to vote themselves, they encourage their parents, neighbors, and friends to vote. They hand out fliers and registration forms, cajole older siblings into casting their vote, and basically browbeat every adult they find into voting in the cutest and friendliest way possible. “Kids have to live with adult choices” one line reads, and that’s why voting isn’t just an adult issue. This is a super fun picture book for a Pre-K through early elementary-aged audience.
Grace for President BY KELLY DIPUCCHIO AND LEUYEN PHAM
One day, Grace’s elementary school teacher rolls out a poster with the images of all the presidents on it. That’s when Grace realizes all the presidents have been boys, so she decides she wants to be president when she grows up. The class laughs at her, but her teacher doesn’t. Instead, her teacher decides that this is a great learning opportunity, and she’ll set up a mock election with another class. These teachers seem to just not get it because they choose a white boy to run against Grace. This book does such a good job of addressing race and gender issues in politics, and also how the electoral college works. I love it, and I also find it infuriating, because while Grace puts in a lot of work campaigning and the boy she’s up against does next to nothing, he still almost wins. This is a really good example of how privilege works, and how minorities have to work twice as hard to get ahead.
The President of the Jungle BY ANDRÉ RODRIGUES, LARISSA RIBEIRO, PAULA DESGUALDO, AND PEDRO MARKUN
When Lion decides to divert a river to his land to become his personal swimming pool, the animal kingdom protests. When nothing comes of the protests, they decide to hold an election to decide who the new king of the jungle will be. Candidates debate, they hold rallies, organize campaigns, and in the end, the animals cast their vote in the ballot box. This is a funny and simple picture book that explains the basic concepts of how elections work. There’s a simple glossary at the back of the voting terms used in the book.
Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 BY JONAH WINTER AND SHANE W. EVANS
While the 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote in 1870 and the 19th Amendment gave women of all races the right to vote in 1920, in reality, systemic racism in voting practices and state law prohibited many African American citizens, particularly in the South, from voting. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed these discriminatory practices and opened the door for all African Americans to vote for the first time. In Lillian’s Right to Vote, 100-year-old Lilian votes for the first time, and on her way to the voting booth she thinks about the historic moments that preceded, from the passing of the 15th Amendment to her great-grandfather voting to her participation in Civil Rights marches. This is a lovely, historically significant book that’s essential reading for mid to late elementary-aged children.
For more children’s books that encourage civic participation, check out these new picture and board books about politics and these children’s books about the U.S. Women’s Suffrage Movement.
I wrote and published a version of this post originally for Book Riot.