Author: Susan Katz
Illustrator: Robert Neubecker
Copyright Date: 2012
Theme: Poetry, Social Studies, American History, Presidents, Government, Biography
Grades: 1 and up
This book is a collection of poems about our nation's presidents. Stretching from George Washington to Barrack Obama, the poet highlights a quirk, anecdote, or other fact about each and every president. With historical context provided for each poem, this book is sure to teach everyone something about our commanders in chief they've never known.
Which president invented the swivel chair? Which president had the longest inaugural address AND the shortest presidency? Which president was afraid to use a light switch? Read this book to find out.
It could be fun to test the classes knowledge of presidential trivia by putting together a matching game of little known facts about the presidents (taken from the poems) and seeing how many presidents the students can match the names to. For younger students this can be just a small list, but older students could be given the list of all forty-three.
During Reading Activity
While reading, the teacher can point out the different structures and approaches the poet takes for each poem. For example The Thomas Jefferson poem has a repeating structure of each stanza looking at a different invention of his and the opposites it embodies, while Woodrow Wilson poem is structured in simple couplets. Also it would be important to point how the poems highlight the humorous and human aspects of the presidents (like James Buchanan's habit of tilting his head to look at things and Theodore Roosevelt's rowdiness), instead of the usual perfect way they are pictured in history books.
After reading this book, teachers can lead a discussion on how poems can be an interesting way to present information. They can encourage students to research someone from their current studies and write a poem about their life and describing their importance to history. These poems could be about an explorer or leader from the current unit in social studies, a scientist who contributed to the field the ongoing science lesson is about, a writer from a recent author study or even a famous and influential mathematician.
Author and Illustrator
Susan Katz is the not only an accomplished poet, writing collections such as this one and Looking for Jaguar and other Rainforest Poems, but also a novelist, having written Snowdrops for Cousin Ruth. She currently is living in Pennsylvania. (Source: Book jacket and here)
Robert Neubecker is the illustrator of a number of children's books including Shiver Me Timbers by Doug Florian and Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth by Sarah Weeks. He is also the author of his own books such as Wow! City! and Courage of the Blue Boy. He currently lives in Utah. (Source: Book Jacket and here)
I really like this book. It is well-written and super fun to read. I think this book could work if you were to read it all the way through or if you were to break it up and read a few a day, maybe as you go along in American History. I think everyone could enjoy this book and walk away knowing something new to share with others. I can't recommend it more.
If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here.