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Summer Books and Activities for Kids

Our Government

Our Government

How to explore this theme:

  1. Choose books and book-related activities
  2. Explore more hands-on activities
  3. Try some summer writing
  4. Dig deeper with these websites
  5. Play and learn with interactive mobile apps

#1: Choose kids' books and book-related activities Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Apple Pie Fourth of July

Apple Pie Fourth of July

By: Janet Wong | Illustrated by: Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A young girl worries that no one will buy the Chinese foods made by her family, especially on the fourth of July — the most American of holidays. Bold colors and shapes convey the child's changing emotions and loving family in this very warm and realistic story.

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Capital! Washington D.C. from A to Z

Capital! Washington D.C. from A to Z

By: Laura Krauss Melmed | Illustrated by: Frané Lessac

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Take a tour of our nation's capital — from A to Z — including both lesser and well-known sights from Gallaudet University (the college for the deaf signed into law by Lincoln) to the Lincoln Memorial and lots more.

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Hats Off for the Fourth of July

Hats Off for the Fourth of July

By: Harriet Ziefert | Illustrated by: Gustaf Miller

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Parades are part of the fun of any Fourth of July celebration. Young readers are invited to join the fun of this down-home parade, told with a jaunty rhythm and rhyme. Animated illustrations literally parade across the pages to a sparkling conclusion.

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If I Were President

If I Were President

By: Catherine Stier

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Children describe the basic duties of the U.S. President, from campaign speeches to lighting the national Christmas tree. Cheery illustrations, simple text, and the position's more pleasurable duties create a fine introduction to the office for younger children.

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Leopard & Silkie: One Boy's Quest to Save the Seal Pups

Leopard & Silkie: One Boy's Quest to Save the Seal Pups

By: Brenda Peterson | Illustrated by: Robin Lindsey

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Join Miles, a young Seal Sitter at the Salish Sea (aka Puget Sound) in Seattle, Washington, as he works to help Leopard until his mother returns from finding food. How the baby seal named Leopard grows with a bit of help (but no interference) from humans is revealed in full-color photographs and crisp text. An author's note provides additional information.

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

America Votes: How Our President Is Elected

America Votes: How Our President Is Elected

By: Linda Granfield | Illustrated by: Steve Bjorkman

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Elections are anything but dull, and participation is very important in a democracy. Just consider what it must be like in places where citizens can't vote! This playful introduction to presidential elections provides a brief history of voting in the U.S. (including the "chad story") and encourages young people to get involved.

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Celebrate Independence Day with Parades, Picnics, and Fireworks

Celebrate Independence Day with Parades, Picnics, and Fireworks

By: Deborah Heiligman

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Celebrate the birthday of the United States with food and fun while learning the history and meaning behind the various festivities. Elegant, crisp color photographs are sourced as is the information provided in this examination of an all-American day.

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Elizabeth Leads the Way

Elizabeth Leads the Way

By: Tanya Lee Stone | Illustrated by: Rebecca Gibbon

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The life of early voting rights advocate, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, is presented in a compelling text and engaging watercolor illustrations.

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George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen By Both Sides

George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen By Both Sides

By: Rosalyn Schanzer

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The Georges most prominent in early America — England's George III and America's George Washington — had much in common even though their politics put them on opposite sides of the issue of independence as well as the Atlantic. Serious information about the men, their struggles, and the times in which they lived is conveyed in an engaging format and light touch that tells of the birth of the United States.

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Grace for President

Grace for President

By: Kelly DiPucchio

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

An inspired teacher, the discovery of the fact that all U.S. Presidents (so far) have been male, and a tenacious girl provide the basis of a satisfying, surprisingly plausible story that explains the voting process in this country — including the Electoral College.

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Happy Birthday, America

Happy Birthday, America

By: Mary Pope Osborne | Illustrated by: Peter Catalanotto

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Realistic watercolors present the summer celebration a boy shares with his family on the 4th of July. The day's activities range from a pet parade and games to a barbeque and concert. The patriotic performance concludes with fireworks, after which the family returns home, tired but happy. The story is inspired by an actual community gala.

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If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House

If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House

By: Jane O'Connor | Illustrated by: Gary Hovland

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The "beautiful 200-year-old mansion on 18 acres of land right in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C.," is better known as the White House. It's where most, though not all, U.S. presidents have lived. Fun and fast, this lighthearted look at the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is presented in sound bites and illustrations reminiscent of political cartoons.

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John, Paul, George & Ben

John, Paul, George & Ben

By: Lane Smith

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Fact and fiction, old and new styles of illustration, wit and seriousness combine in this pithy, lighthearted look at four luminaries in American history. Only mature readers will appreciate the title's name play but are sure to chuckle at the take on John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington and Ben Franklin. Fact is clearly differentiated from fun at book's end.

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Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

By: National Children's Book & Literacy Alliance

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Over 100 well-known authors and illustrators have provided pieces to this fascinating compendium about the White House. An introduction by historian David McCullough sets the stage for the varied offerings by diverse contributors. This handsome volume is ideal for sharing at home or in classrooms.

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Red, White, and Boom!

Red, White, and Boom!

By: Lee Wardlaw | Illustrated by: Huy Voun Lee

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

From one end of the United States to the other, the 4th of July is celebrated: on beaches, with parades, picnics, and of course fireworks. Cut paper collage combine with appealing, rhyming, short poetry to re-create the heat and rhythm of summer and the pleasure in its goings-on.

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Revolutionary Friends

Revolutionary Friends

By: Selene Castrovilla | Illustrated by: Drazen Krozjan

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The friendship between Lafayette and Washington is dramatically told for sophisticated readers in a handsome picture book format. It began while the fledgling United States fought for its independence from Britain though it continued after the war. Additional information about the two men and the time in which they lived is included.

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Rutherford B., Who Was He? Poems About Our Presidents

Rutherford B., Who Was He? Poems About Our Presidents

By: Marilyn Singer | Illustrated by: John Hendrix

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated readers will appreciate the snippets of presidential history presented in a variety of poetic forms. Illustrations, reminiscent of political cartoons, range in tone from serious to silly. Additional information about the office and the individual presidents concludes this appealing and surprisingly informative collection (which includes the sitting POTUS).

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Shhh! We're Writing the Constitution

Shhh! We're Writing the Constitution

By: Jean Fritz | Illustrated by: Tomie dePaola

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Long ago in 1787, a group of men known as the Founding Fathers of the United States met in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. (It's now a national park.) There they discussed, argued, and finally agreed upon a document that still in use today — the U.S. Constitution. Their story is told with verve and humor in this playful book.

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Smart About the First Ladies

Smart About the First Ladies

By: Jon Buller

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Brief, lighthearted looks at the wives of the U.S. Presidents from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama are presented as if put together as a class activity. In a note to their teacher, Team USA concludes, "A lot has changed since 1789, but some things are still the same — the president is still a man, and you still don't get paid to be first lady!"

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So, You Want to Be President?

So, You Want to Be President?

By: Judith St. George

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Anyone can be president, whether fat (William Howard Taft) or tiny (James Madison), relatively young (Teddy Roosevelt at 42) or old (Ronald Reagan at 69). Hobbies, sports, virtues, and vices all get a tongue-in-cheek airing in this fascinating collection of presidential trivia.

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The Flag We Love

The Flag We Love

By: Pam Muñoz Ryan | Illustrated by: Ralph Masiello

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Read this book aloud to young readers to teach them about the United States flag, its history, and meaning. The short verse, historical tidbits, and realistic illustrations result in a brief, moving, and patriotic look at this American symbol.

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Those Rebels, John and Tom

Those Rebels, John and Tom

By: Barbara Kerley | Illustrated by: Edwin Fotheringham

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were very different in everything from appearance to what they liked to do. But they agreed on one thing: King George of England was a tyrant! This lighter look at American history is factual and informative and may be just the introduction to Independence Day as well as two of its key figures.

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Unite or Die! The Story of the Thirteen Colonies

Unite or Die! The Story of the Thirteen Colonies

By: Jacqueline Jules | Illustrated by: Jef Czekaj

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Though the first U.S. Census didn't start until 1790, the squat elementary children put on a play that lays the historical foundation for it. The kids of Forest Lake School (sporting shapes of the original 13 states) dramatize the problems faced after the American Revolution which were resolved by the 1787 Constitutional Convention. This entertaining look at the county's start is sure to engage and inspire further research.

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Vote!

Vote!

By: Eileen Christelow

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The history of voting in the United States is presented using a town's mayoral election as the framework. Even the town dogs have their say in the whimsical, cartoon-like illustrations which provide additional information for the reader.

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Wackiest White House Pets

Wackiest White House Pets

By: Katherine Gibbs Davis

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

How are dogs, alligators, sheep, cats, and a host of other animals similar? They've all been residents of the president's house as presidential pets! Comical illustrations combine with the often laugh out loud funny tales of pets in the White House.

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution

Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution

By: Laurie Halse Anderson

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

This fact and fun-filled look at female contributions to the American Revolution provides a serious but lighthearted introduction to a range of known and unknown women. Affable illustrations include thought and speech bubbles.

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More great summer resources for parents from Reading Rockets

Read Aloud Tips

Read Aloud Tips

Read aloud every day with your child and talk about what you're reading. These two simple activities help build your child's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Get tips (In English and 10 other languages) >

Downloadables

Downloadables

Download these colorful ready-to-print lunch box notes, play date cards, and door hangers for the kids in your life.

Download and print >