The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
As a country without any official royalty of its own (Beyonce notwithstanding), the United States of America has always been preoccupied – even infatuated – with presidents and their families.
It is, therefore, not news that there’s no shortage of reading material about the presidency, especially during an election year. But you may be surprised – I was, anyway – at how many kids’ picture books about presidents there are.
(But there are almost no picture books about Senators or Attorneys General! C’mon, publishing industry. Thirty thousand picture books about bears but not a single one about county auditors?)
Many presidential picture books revolve around fictional occupants of the executive branch and the fictional kids who meet them – or are them.
And some books involve animals and other creatures who aspire to the presidency, or achieve it, but don’t let these books fool you: according to the Constitution, dogs, lions, Muppets, and aquatic invertebrates are not eligible to be president. Unless they serve in the House of Representatives first.
And then there are the picture books that feature actual American presidents. Not surprisingly, there are quite a few with George Washington, ‘cause you know how that guy is, he’s always gotta be first with everything:
Maybe even less surprising is the number of picture books with Abraham Lincoln, not including the children’s classic “The Cat in the Stovepipe Hat,” which I just made up.
Now, Washington and Lincoln, you expect a lot of books about them. They have monuments and cities and cars named after them. But would anyone have predicted that there would be more than one picture book featuring that beloved children’s character President William Howard Taft?
A more natural fit for children’s literature might be Teddy Roosevelt, who combines the bumptious brashness of Mo Willems’s Pigeon with the facial hair of the late Wilford Brimley.
And then there are the rest of the presidents, or as the guy who made Mount Rushmore liked to call them, “Those guys I don’t have time for.”