Though Presidents Day was originally established in 1885 to remember President George Washington’s birthday, you can honor all of our presidents on the third Monday in February by learning more about them, Washington D.C., and the U.S. government, in these books.
by Kate Messner; illustrated by Adam Rex (Chronicle Books, March 24, 2020)
Author Kate Messner writes on Twitter that a few years ago, she was reading about what happened in the year 1970. “[I] noticed that Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter were both elected governors of their states that year [reelected, in Reagan’s case]. ‘Ha!’ I thought, ‘They’re both going to be president later and they don’t even know it yet!’” Her book explores the interesting things that future leaders were doing on their way to the presidency.
by Marilyn Singer; illustrated by John Hendrix (Disney Books, 2013)
Learn about a variety of presidents through rhyming, humorous poems filled with little-known facts about them. Available by the same author is Have You Heard About Lady Bird?, which contains poems about our first ladies.
by Ruby Shamir; illustrated by Matt Faulkner (Philomel, 2018)
Kids can find easy-to-understand answers to complicated questions about presidential elections and government in this book, including “Why does government matter?” and “How do you get elected?” It also includes a timeline starting with the colonial period through 1971’s 26th Amendment, which granted citizens 18 and up the right to vote.
by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Little, Brown, February 4, 2020)
Learn the true story of one of America’s founding mothers—Abigail Adams—who married second president John Adams, and was known for doing things a little differently than other women at the time. Learn how Abigail asked questions, managed a farm and fed hungry soldiers during the Revolutionary War, and served as her husband’s trusted advisor, among other accomplishments that surprised the world.
by Charles R. Smith Jr.; illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Amistad, 2012)
Suggested by Denver Public Library children’s librarians, this book depicts a piece of presidential history that’s unknown to many—how both free and enslaved people built the president’s house by hand. Illustrations bring focus to the many individuals who endured hard physical labor while building the White House.
by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Disney Books, 2012)
When Grace learns that the United States has never had a female president, she decides to run herself. She starts by entering her school’s mock election and focuses on being a good person, but finds she’s got some tough competition. Also available is the newly-released companion book, Grace Goes to Washington.
Librarians and book experts also recommend:
- Understanding Politics and Government by Louie Frith and Alex Stowell
- What Presidents Are Made Of by Hanoch Piven
- Washington, D.C. from A-Z by Alan Schroeder; illustrated by John O’Brien
- Duck for President by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
- The Only Woman in the Photo by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Alexandra Bye
- Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
- Action Presidents series by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey
- Superheroes Are Everywhere by Kamala Harris; illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe
- To Dare Mighty Things by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by C.F. Payne
- President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
- The Eye That Never Sleeps by Marissa Moss; illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
- Who Was? series by various authors
- I Am series (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer; illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
- Presidential Pets by Julia Moberg; illustrated by Jeff Albrecht Studios
- P is for President by Wendy Cheyette Lewison; illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti
- Bones in the White House: Thomas Jefferson’s Mammoth by Candice Ransom; illustrated by Jamey Christoph
- Grover Cleveland, Again! by Ken Burns; Illustrated by Gerald Kelley
- It’s Up To You, Abe Lincoln by Tom and Leila Hirschfeld
Photo credits: The Next President: Chronicle Books. Rutherford B. Who Was He? and Grace for President: Disney Publishing Worldwide. What’s the Big Deal About Elections?: Penguin Random House. Leave It to Abigal: Little, Brown. Brick by Brick: HarperCollins.