Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

I Grew Up to Be President

I Grew Up to Be President

Laurie Calkhoven
Illustrator:  Rebecca Zomchek 
Nonfiction
For ages 8 to 10
Scholastic , 2011   ISBN: 0545331528

After America gained its independence from Britain in 1783, it soon became clear that the new nation was going to need a strong central government that would decide how the country would be led. Representatives from each state met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, and they decided to create a government with three branches. One of these would be an executive branch, which be led by a president. George Washington was chosen to be the first president of the United States in 1789.

In all, the United States has had forty-four presidents. They are elected to serve for four years, and they have all been very different. This book tells the stories of all forty-four presidents. For each one, there is a “fact file,” which includes basic information like the president’s date and place of birth, the name of his spouse, the name or names of his children, and the name of his vice president.

This is followed by a general description of the president’s life, and then there are two or more additional paragraphs that explore interesting topics that are relevant to that president. For example, on the pages that describe Thomas Jefferson, there is one paragraph that describes how the explorer Zebulon Pike sent the president two grizzly bear cubs as a gift. A second paragraph tells the story of how Thomas Jefferson gave his large personal library to the country after the Library of Congress was destroyed during the War of 1812.

Sometimes it is hard to get a sense of what a president was like. In this book readers will not only find all the usual information, but they will also find some interesting facts that will help them see that the U.S. presidents were people with funny habits and stories just like the rest of us.

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