Review: The Next President

The Next President
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Adam Rex
Chronicle Books
Ages 6-12

Who will you be when you grow up? 

An astronaut? 
A farmer? 
A president? 
All of the above?

This book is a beautiful journey through the past presidents of the United States with a twist–introducing the idea to children that at any time while there is a president in the White House, future presidents (up to 10!) are alive and doing wonderful interesting things. 

When Washington became America’s first president, what were the nine successive presidents doing? John Adams was Washington’s Vice President, Martin Van Buren was seven years old and working on his parent’s farm, William Harrison was 16 and studying medicine, and so on.

The idea that presidents had lives and careers, some exciting, and some relatively mundane, before they came to take the highest office in the land is a great jumping off point to engage kids. What do you think the future president of the country is doing right now? Running for senate? Working on a farm? Building a tech company? Inventing a flying car? Playing games with their siblings? Imaginations will run wild!

Rex’ illustrations are thought provoking and beautiful, worthy of the setting–a tour through a museum or gallery. The visitors engaging with the information are diverse. There’s a woman in a hijab pushing a stroller; there’s a woman in a wheelchair, a man wearing his baby, an African American woman, young kids, and older folks.

It is noted that the diversity of the visitors is not reflected in the diversity of the presidents, but there is hope even in the idea that a major party nominated a woman for president, in front of a portrait of Hillary Clinton, whose portrait is subversively included in the book (without mention of her name).

The book includes an extensive bibliography and interesting information on who can become president, where past presidents were born, and a note about women in higher office.

Overall this is a great book to get children thinking about the presidency, especially in an election year.

The Next President (Support an Independent Bookstore)
The Next President (Hardcover at Amazon)*

More books for this Age Group can be found here.

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