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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Book Reviews: Hail to the Chief

I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but I do like to learn. I think one of the things that turns me off of adult non-fiction titles is that they tend to be a bit dry. Not all of them, of course, but as a rule, I just find them...well, boring. That's why I think I really like non-fiction written for kids. Most authors who write for children know they have to keep things fun and interesting or they're going to lose their audience. There are numerous examples of great kid non-fiction books out there, and I thought I would share a few of my favorites. Since it's election season, I've selected books in that arena.


Don't Know Much About the Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis is a fantastic example of how much fun can be packed into a book intended to teach something. Filled with well-known and little-known facts and quotes about each of the 43 presidents to date, the book contains a wealth of information - from the fact that Chester A. Arthur used to change his pants several times a day (why?) to the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was related, by blood or marriage, to eleven other presidents. There's also a short section in the beginning of the book that details what the president's duties are and how one would go about getting elected.

If the Walls Coult Talk: Family Life at the White House by Jane O'Connor is another entertaining look at political life. Focusing more on stories of the White House and its inhabitants, If the Walls Could Talk is a timeline of White House tidbits. Fun facts such as who installed the first White House telephone (Rutherford B. Hayes - the phone number was 1) and whose wife disliked the color yellow so much that she banned it from the White House (William McKinley). Cute charicatures create a sort of comic feel to this really informative book.
The Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times by David Rubel is a much more in-depth look at each president and the times in which he served. This book would be ideal for research. While it's not as fun as the previous two books I mentioned, it has a lots more information to offer than either of those. Packed with biographical details, photographs, headlines, campaign information, and election results it's still readable and not bogged down with mind-numbing passages.

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4 comments:

Lenore said...

This is exactly what I need for myself since I can name the first 10 in order and the last 10 but I always forget all the presidents in the middle (except for Lincoln, Johnson and Grant).

Ladytink_534 said...

I agree that a lot of non-fiction aimed at a younger audience are usually much, much better than what is available for adults. Which is something I don't understand! Why would someone want to bore their audience to death? I'm now really interested in reading some of Kenneth C. Davis' books now. America's Hidden History sounds really interesting.

Traci said...

I really like Davis' Don't Know Much About the ... series. We've got DKMA the Fifty States, too, which is really entertaining and educational.

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