Two Books to Peruse for President's Day

It’s Presidents day, which stands out to me mostly as a day of no school. But, as it was set up as a day to celebrate George Washington’s birthday (which is offically on February 22) and Lincoln’s too (February 12), I will support the decision to take off school, close down banks and give our postal workers a much deserved day of rest. 

In honor of our first president and the many that followed, I have two fun books you might want to check out.

1. George Washington’s Rules to Live By: A Good Manners Guide from the Father of our Country by K.M. Kostyal

When George was a boy, he hand-copied a list called The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, and then he did his best to follow them. George Washington’s Rules to Live By, presents 50 of these rules. Each page comes with a piece of advice, the modern day translation, a few fun facts on the subject, and a very entertaining illustration. 

For example:

George’s Rule #101 states:  “Rince not your Mouth in the Presence of Others.” 

Translation:  Gargling is best kept to the privacy of the bathroom, since sloshing and spitting isn’t much fun to watch.

Or, George’s Rule #53:  Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms… go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

Translation: This pretty much means: “Be cool, be calm.”

Sorted by subject matter (I.e. Table Manners, Courtesy, Hygiene), there is a lot to learn from our first president and the time period he lived in. I loved the original spellings and the glimpse into eighteenth century manners, many of which we could use a good dose of today. 

Readers 8 and up


2. Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents by David Stabler

Did you know that Ulysses S. Grant was once pulled over (on his horse) for speeding, when he was president?

Did you know that Jimmy Carter collected arrowheads all his life and even had legislation passed that guaranteed that kids like him could continue to collect them? 

Did you know that Franklin Roosevelt grew up under a WAY over-protective mother, that he became so despondent because of it his parents gave him one whole day to do whatever he desired? He never told anyone what he did that day, it is a secret he kept his entire life!

Did you know Barack Obama’s first job was scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins and he has hated ice cream ever since?

Neither did I, but I discovered all this and way more through the many stories and entertaining illustrations contained in Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents.

The book is a mix of cartoonish illustrations, short stories (and longer ones) and fun facts about the childhoods of many of our American presidents. I was struck, but not surprised, at how interests and passions that many of the presidents had in childhood followed them into adulthood and impacted how they led the country. 

This book is a quick read. I sat down to start it, and before I knew it I had finished. It definitely made some of these iconic men who have led our country feel more human. Whether you read it for President’s day, or a your average, run-of-the-mill Tuesday, Kid Presidents is an entertaining little book that your kids will love. From avid readers to the more reluctant, this is book of true stories that "proves that any kid can grow up to be president, because every U.S. president started out as a regular kid. Just like you!"

Readers 9 and up


(PS Reader age recommendations are just that, recommendations. I list them, oftentimes pulled right off of Amazon, to give you a general guide.)

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