Young children aren’t old enough to vote, but they are old enough to learn about democracy and voting! Principles like fairness, listening, and cooperation are key to strong communities in and out of child care programs. Use these books to spark a conversation about voting.

Icon of three books leaning together above text "The Storygraph"Pro-tip: Track the books you & your children are reading. Download the free app The Storygraph, created and owned by Black female tech entrepreneur Nadia Odunayo.

All titles are available through the Debra S Fish Early Childhood Resource Library, a branch of the St. Paul Public Library.

You can also sign up for email updates to follow Think Small’s policy and advocacy work!

I Voted (Age Focus: 3 – 7 Years)

I Voted explains the concept of choosing, individually, and as a group, from making a simple choice: “Which do you like better, apples or oranges?”, to selecting a class pet, to even more complicated decisions, like electing community representatives.

You may not always get want you want, but there are strategies to better your odds!

Serge Bloch’s effortless and charming illustrations paired with Mark Shulman’s funny and timely text create a perfect resource for discussing current events with your children.

Backmatter includes information about the United States electoral process.

Tinyville Town Gets to Work! (Age Focus: 3 – 7 Years)

Tinyville-Town-Teachers-Guide.pdf (discussion questions)

Bakers bake. Bus drivers drive. Garbage collectors collect the garbage. But one day the garbage goes uncollected, the bakery doesn’t open on time, and the bus is late. Mayor Murphy (a black man whose job it is to solve problems) must find out what’s wrong. The problem is no one can get into Tinyville Town because there’s a traffic jam on the bridge that crosses the river. Tinyville Town needs a bigger bridge! With the help of the engineer and the city planner, Mayor Murphy plans a beautiful new bridge. Excavators dig, crane operators move huge blocks, and iron workers install arches. When the bridge is done, the whole town parades across; Hooray!

Noodlephant (Age Focus: 4 – 9 Years)

Once there was an elephant who loved noodles. She loved noodles so much that all her friends called her Noodlephant.” This quirky, imaginative tale includes a playfulness in both text and artwork, balancing its serious themes. From the beginning, readers learn that the bossy kangaroos have “deep pockets” and have privileges over all the other animals. These animals know the laws are unfair, but they don’t want to be thrown into the Zoo. They find ways to enjoy life despite being restricted from the beach, the Butterfly Garden, and law-making. One day, a particularly nasty, violent kangaroo destroys Noodlephant’s recent purchase of pasta ingredients and declares that noodle-eating is illegal for all but kangaroos. In a moment of literal navel-gazing, Noodlephant is inspired to build a magical machine that turns anything into pasta. Readers follow her through a kangaroo court(!)—including a rudimentary introduction to the nolo contendere plea—to the dreaded Zoo and her subsequent hunger strike. Help from her loyal, clever friends leads finally to a bloodless but pasta-filled revolution. Accessible sentences are peppered with spurts of couplets, wordplay, and culinary vocabulary. The art is perfect: pen-and-ink and colorful washes show numerous, wide-eyed animal citizens, anthropomorphic and, sometimes, laugh-out-loud funny.

Democracy for Dinosaurs (age focus: 4 – 8 years)

Using accessible dinosaur characters and clear language, Democracy for Dinosaurs explores key civic values on every adult’s mind and helps show young readers how the things they do every single day can be guided by principles we must share in a democratic society: freedom, fairness, the rule of law, equality, respect for free speech, and respect for the truth. By modeling accessible ways to practice being a good citizen, children will understand they are part of their country and that they have an important role to play.

Your Voice, Your Vote (Age Focus: 4 – 8 Years)

Young Quetta and her mother and grandmother take a long ride on two different buses (standing room only). Once they arrive at their polling place, they see a long line of community members, and they settle in to wait…and wait…and wait. It’s a big day—Grandma has even donned her Sunday hat, though it’s Tuesday. If it’s such an important day, though, why does Quetta’s mother still have to go to work? the girl wonders. And as it begins to rain, Quetta suggests going home. That opens up a conversation between Quetta and Grandma, whose parents and grandparents fought for the right to vote and who explains just how crucial it is to exercise this right. As they reach the front of the line, everyone is told that they must have their IDs in order to vote. Grandma is initially unable to find hers, and a knot forms in Quetta’s stomach. Luckily, all ends well, and Quetta gets to watch two generations of women in her family cast their votes. Henderson’s story of a loving family working hard to vote puts this civic duty into greater historical context.

Vote for Our Future! (Age Focus: 4 – 8 Years)

Every two years, on the first Tuesday of November, Stanton Elementary School closes for the day. For vacation? Nope! For repairs? No way! Stanton Elementary School closes so that it can transform itself into a polling station. People can come from all over to vote for the people who will make laws for the country. Sure, the Stanton Elementary School students might be too young to vote themselves, but that doesn’t mean they can’t encourage their parents, friends, and family to vote! After all, voting is how this country sees change–and by voting today, we can inspire tomorrow’s voters to change the future.

The President of the Jungle (Age Focus: 4 – 8 Years)

Lion may be King of the jungle, but lately he only seems to care about himself. His subjects are fed up, so they decide to try something new–hold an election! Once Owl explains the rules, the fun begins, and Snake, Sloth, and Monkey all announce they will be candidates. But oh no, Lion is going to run too! It’s a wild campaign season as the animals hold rallies, debate, and even take a selfie or two, trying to prove why they’d make the best president of the jungle.

This funny, non-partisan story features lively illustrations, a helpful glossary, and colorful characters who have an infectious enthusiasm for the election process.

Who Are Community Leaders? (Age Focus: 5 – 8 Years)

All communities need leaders of some kind to help steer and shape them. Through their elected positions, jobs, or volunteer work, leaders are vital to a strong community. A question-answer format and photos with which kids can identify define leaders’ responsibilities and how leaders cooperate with all citizens to achieve shared goals. A hands-on activity encourages active community participation

What Does the Constitution Say? (Age Focus: 8 – 12 Years)

From the Preamble to the 7 Articles to the 27 Amendments (so far), this fun-to-read guide is packed with bite-sized info, historic quotes, and graphics on important topics such as:

  • Why the Constitution is a “living document”
  • How the first attempt at a constitution (the Articles of Confederation) failed
  • What powers the president does (and doesn’t) have
  • Key figures like James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington
  • A bonus section on the Declaration of Independence
  • And much more!

Book Uncle and Me (Age Focus: 8 – 11 Years) (chapter book)

When Book Uncle is forced to shut down his lending library because he can’t afford the permit, Yasmin is disappointed and confused. She is then motivated to try and get the lending library back in business and enlists the help of her friends and then their larger neighborhood. All this happens amid a mayoral election, which provides the perfect background for the plot. Yasmin is a precocious, inquisitive protagonist with a tendency to speak before she thinks. Her relationships with her family and friends read as authentic and loving, even, and perhaps especially, in the moments when they are not perfect. This all lays the foundation for the community organizing that later becomes so necessary in effecting the change that Yasmin seeks to make…

Yasmin’s campaign should help inspire young readers to believe in their own potential to make a difference and teach the valuable lesson that sometimes it takes several small actions to make big moves.

We the People! (Age Focus: 9 – 12 Years)

Narrated by Abigail Adams, We the People! explores how Athenian and Greek assemblies inspired our legislative and judiciary branches; how Enlightenment ideals of reason, toleration, and human progress shaped our founding fathers’ thinking; how Mali’s Manden Charter and England’s Magna Carta influenced our Bill of Rights; and how the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy directly shaped the US Constitution. Explaining the fundamentals of democracy—liberty, equality, and justice for all—in a kid-friendly way, We the People! is a powerful reminder that power rests in the people’s hands.

By Marie Huey and Jennie Walker Knoot