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5 children’s books by US politicians

November 15, 2010

Published by The Christian Science Monitor

Barack Obama is not alone. Other presidents – and presidential hopefuls – have also written books for children.

5. “Hero Tales from American History,” by Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge

Though best known for his dense historical writings, the 26th president also produced one children’s book, six years before he took office. With fellow politician Henry Cabot Lodge, a future senate majority leader, Theodore Roosevelt wrote “Hero Tales from American History,” 26 stories of great Americans in 1895. Intended for teen readers, the book describes American legends, heroes, and battles. Chapters by Roosevelt include “George Rogers Clark and the Conquest of the Northwest,” “Remember the Alamo,” and “The Death of Stonewall Jack.”

The authors explain their purpose in the book’s introduction: “to tell in simple fashion the story of some Americans … who proved their truth by their endeavor,” which is, they say, “an especially good thing for young Americans to remember.”

4. “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer,” by Jimmy Carter

Post presidency, Jimmy Carter has become quite a prolific writer. He has published 21 books, including historical fiction novel “The Hornet’s Nest,” a highly praised volume of poetry entitled “Always a Reckoning,” and one children’s book, “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer” in 1995.

With illustrations by his daughter Amy, Carter tells the story of a young boy, Jeremy, who cannot walk. Unable to run like other children, he finds himself all alone, with no choice but to face a terrifying sea monster. In the end, Jeremy is surprised to find a friend in the little baby Snoogle-Flleejer.

3. “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets,” by Hillary Rodham Clinton

During her years as first lady, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets,” a 208-page children’s book with more than 80 photos of former first pets Socks the cat and Buddy the chocolate Labrador. Clinton includes 50 utterly adorable letters from children across the US, answers their frequently asked questions, and gives a White House “pet history,” from Dolly Madison’s parrot to Teddy Roosevelt’s menagerie. She uses the book as an opportunity to promote letter writing and proper pet care to young readers.

The Secretary of State’s 2003 autobiography “Living History” in 2003 set sales records in books for grown-ups.

2. “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C.,” by Edward M. Kennedy

In 2006, Sen. Kennedy published a kid’s guide to the political process, as told by his real-life Portuguese Water Dog, Splash. “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C.” takes young readers to a typical day in the Senate, and describes how a bill becomes a law in simple terms. The affectionate canine narrator rides the underground tram between the Senate and the Capitol, then attends a press conference, a committee meeting, and a floor vote – stopping along the way for a game of catch, of course.

Although “My Senator and Me” is the late Massachusetts senator’s only picture book, he did publish several other works, including his posthumous memoir “True Compass” in 2009.

1. “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” by Barack Obama

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters” was the last of a three-book deal struck by Barack Obama with his publishers. The 40-page picture book, in the words of its publisher, pays tribute to 13 “groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation – from the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington.”

Obama’s book seems to reflect those written by politicians past. Like Sen. Kennedy’s, its front cover features a famous Washington, D.C., Portuguese Water Dog, and its theme is quite similar to that of both Theodore Roosevelt’s “Hero Tales from American History,” published more than 100 years ago, and John F. Kennedy’s 1955 book for adults “Profiles in Courage.”

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