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Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Children's books and activities

Civics and Our Government

Civics teaches kids about the rights each of us has as a citizen, as well as our responsibilities, such as voting or serving on a jury — and getting involved in our communities to make them better for all. Do you know any kids who are eager to volunteer in their communities? Or kids who are curious about the history of voting rights in the U.S., how a bill becomes a law, how we elect our President, and stories about life (and pets!) in the White House? We've gathered up a great collection of books, activities, apps, and websites for learning all about civic engagement and our U.S. government.

Try pairing fiction with nonfiction books and exploring different genres (like poetry and biographies) and formats (like graphic novels and audio books). You'll be creating your own "text sets" — collections of texts focused on a specific topic, such as civics and our government. Reading widely in this way helps children build background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

Government

Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

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A Is for Activist

By: Innosanto Nagara

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Each spread presents a letter and a bit of social commentary urging children to take a stand...

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Apple Pie Fourth of July

By: Janet Wong

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A young girl worries that no one will buy the Chinese foods made by her family, especially on the...

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Capital! Washington D.C. from A to Z

By: Laura Krauss Melmed

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Take a tour of our nation's capital — from A to Z — including both lesser and well-...

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Happy 4th of July, Jenny Sweeney!

By: Leslie Kimmelman

Age Level: 3-6 years old

As Jenny rides her bike through town on the Fourth of July, she sees the townsfolk preparing for...

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Hats Off for the Fourth of July

By: Harriet Ziefert

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Parades are part of the fun of any Fourth of July celebration. Young readers are invited to join...

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I Pledge Allegiance

By: Pat Mora

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Libby's great aunt, Lobo, is from Mexico, but the United States has been her home for many years...

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I Voted: Making a Choice Makes a Difference

By: Mark Shulman

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Nonfiction

This picture book explains the concept of choosing, individually, and as a group, from...

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If Everybody Did

By: Jo Ann Stover

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

Imagine the funny and terrible consequences of everyone doing his own thing! Children and adults...

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If I Were President

By: Catherine Stier

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Children describe the basic duties of the U.S. President, from campaign speeches to lighting the...

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Maybe Something Beautiful

By: F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

Mira brings color and builds community through her beautiful art which she first gives to...

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One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote

By: Bonnie Worth, Joe Mathieu

Age Level: 3-6 years old

The Cat in the Hat is back with Things 1 & 2 for a rhyming introduction to the steps in...

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Plant a Little Seed

By: Bonnie Christensen

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Nonfiction

Two children start to plan their community garden while snow is still on the ground. Come spring...

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The Ballot Box Battle

By: Emily Arnold McCully

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

The inspiring story of a young girl named Cordelia whose relationship with her neighbor, the...

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The Curious Garden

By: Peter Brown

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

Liam discovers that he can help his dreary city blossom into a green place that draws everyone out...

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The Impossible Patriotism Project

By: Linda Skeers

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

Caleb's class is making projects that represent patriotism but Caleb can't think of a way to...

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The Park Our Town Built

By: Diane Gonzales Bertrand

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

In the style of "The House That Jack Built," Diane Gonzales Bertrand offers a lively picture...

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We March

By: Shane Evans

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

Two children aroused by their parents join a march for equal rights. Short sentences and semi-...

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

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A Very Important Day

By: Maggie Rugg Herold

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

This multicultural narrative brings 12 families together in celebration of the...

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America Votes: How Our President Is Elected

By: Linda Granfield

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Elections are anything but dull, and participation is very important in a democracy. Just...

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Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency

By: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

In 1884, when men were the only people allowed to vote in national elections, Belva Lockwood...

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Carl the Complainer

By: Michelle Knudsen

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Carl complains about everything until he discovers how to turn complaints into action — by...

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Celebrate Independence Day with Parades, Picnics, and Fireworks

By: Deborah Heiligman

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Celebrate the birthday of the United States with food and fun while learning the history and...

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City Green

By: DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

There is a garbage-filled, vacant lot on the street where Marcy lives. Instead of growing...

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D Is for Democracy: A Citizen's Alphabet

By: Elissa D. Grodin

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

An A-Z trip through our government's structure, from its earliest beginnings to definitions of...

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Dear Mr. Rosenwald

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

A 10 year old girl narrates this fictionalized story, based on real events and people, of how...

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Elizabeth Leads the Way

By: Tanya Lee Stone

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

The life of early voting rights advocate, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, is presented in a compelling...

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Elizabeth Started All the Trouble

By: Doreen Rappaport

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Women could not attend college, enter politics or vote when the United States was established....

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Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

By: Linda Glaser

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A gentle tribute to Emma Lazarus, who wrote the sonnet "The New Colossus" that gave a voice to...

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First Garden and How It Grew

By: Robbin Gourley

Age Level: 6-9 years old

White House gardens started with John Adams in 1800 and continue with Michelle Obama. History...

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Fly Guy Presents the White House

By: Tedd Arnold

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Buzz and his pet fly, Fly Guy, share what they learn when they visit the White House in...

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Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies

By: Cokie Roberts

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Hear the stories of heroic, patriotic women such as Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Phillis...

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Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A girl and her mom want to have a sweet treat on a hot day but cannot sit at the soda fountain...

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

By: Rosalyn Schanzer

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The Georges most prominent in early America — England's George III and America's George...

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Giant Steps to Change the World

By: Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A book about activism and taking the big steps to set things right, using examples of people...

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Grace for President

By: Kelly DiPucchio

Age Level: 6-9 years old

An inspired teacher, the discovery of the fact that all U.S. Presidents (so far) have been male,...

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Granddaddy's Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box

By: Michael Bandy, Eric Stein

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights–era South...

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Happy Birthday, America

By: Mary Pope Osborne

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Realistic watercolors present the summer celebration a boy shares with his family on the 4th of...

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Her Right Foot

By: Dave Eggers

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Meet the Statue of Liberty. She came from across an ocean like many of the people she continues...

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House Mouse, Senate Mouse

By: Peter Barnes

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

A look at the legislative process, from drawing up a bill and committee discussions to voting...

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I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote

By: Linda Arms White

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Hatmaker, wife, mother, pioneer, and activist, Esther Morris was instrumental in getting the vote...

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I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

By: Debbie Levy

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with...

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If I Ran For President

By: Catherine Stier

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Six children discuss what they would do if they were running for president, describing the...

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

By: Jane O'Connor

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The "beautiful 200-year-old mansion on 18 acres of land right in the heart of downtown...

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Imogene's Last Stand

By: Candace Fleming

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Meet Imogene Tripp, a plucky girl with a passion for history. So it’s not surprising that...

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Independence Cake

By: Deborah Hopkinson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Since little is known about the real Amelia Simmons, the author invites readers to imagine what...

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Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns

By: Mary Quattlebaum

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Jackson works to turn a community garden plot into a working business so he can buy the basketball...

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John, Paul, George & Ben

By: Lane Smith

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Fact and fiction, old and new styles of illustration, wit and seriousness combine in this pithy...

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Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation

By: Cokie Roberts

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Journals, letters and other primary sources were used to introduce "a few of the women who...

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Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

By: Jonah Winter

Age Level: 6-9 years old

As she climbs the hill to the courthouse to proudly cast her vote for elected officials, Lillian...

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Lincoln and Kennedy: A Pair to Compare

By: Gene Barretta

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This brief introduction to two well-known U.S. Presidents presents similarities in their lives...

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Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics

By: Catherine Thimmesh

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

This inspiring look at the role of women in American politics — past, present, and future —...

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Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage

By: Claire Rudolf Murphy

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

An inspiring story of the fight for women’s suffrage, based on the experiences of a real girl....

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Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women's Right to Vote

By: Dean Robbins

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Cast your vote for Alice Paul! The story of a tireless suffragette and the president she...

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Miss Rumphius

By: Barbara Cooney

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Miss Rumphius leaves the world more beautiful with an unusual legacy. This gentle story can...

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Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World

By: Allan Drummond

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

How one person helped make one community into the bicycle capital of the world is told in...

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Presidential Pets: The Weird, Wacky, Little, Big, Scary, Strange Animals That Have Lived in the White House

By: Julia Moberg

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

The White House has hosted U.S. Presidents and their families which have often included First...

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Red, White, and Boom!

By: Lee Wardlaw

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From one end of the United States to the other, the 4th of July is celebrated: on beaches, with...

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Revolutionary Friends

By: Selene Castrovilla

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The friendship between Lafayette and Washington is dramatically told for sophisticated readers in a...

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

By: Marilyn Singer

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Sophisticated readers will appreciate the snippets of presidential history presented in a variety...

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Shhh! We're Writing the Constitution

By: Jean Fritz

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Long ago in 1787, a group of men known as the Founding Fathers of the United States met in...

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Smart About the First Ladies

By: Jon Buller

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Brief, lighthearted looks at the wives of the U.S. Presidents from Martha Washington to Michelle...

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So, You Want to Be President?

By: Judith St. George

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Anyone can be president, whether fat (William Howard Taft) or tiny (James Madison), relatively...

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Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

By: Andrea Beaty

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Sofia is a young girl who gets things done and has a great desire to help others. After her...

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Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx

By: Jonah Winter

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Poverty didn’t stop this girl from working hard, reading lots of books, and graduating top in...

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Susan B. Anthony

By: Alexandra Wallner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Susan B. Anthony lived and worked as a teacher when women were paid less for the same jobs...

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The American Flag

By: Elaine Landau

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Learn about the history of the American flag in this book from the True Books: American History...

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The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial

By: Susan E. Goodman

Age Level: 6-9 years old

More than a century before Brown v. Board of Education, there was Roberts v. City of Boston....

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The Flag We Love

By: Pam Muñoz Ryan

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Read this book aloud to young readers to teach them about the United States flag, its history,...

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The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger

By: Colin Meloy

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Pete Seeger was a musician, an activist, an environmentalist and more. An overview of his life...

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The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins and Her New Deal for America

By: Kathleen Krull

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Discover the incredible life of Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a presidential...

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Those Rebels, John and Tom

By: Barbara Kerley

Age Level: 6-9 years old

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were very different in everything from appearance to what they...

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Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen

By: Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

A boy wonders about the people he sees on his city’s streets until he goes to the soup kitchen...

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Unite or Die! The Story of the Thirteen Colonies

By: Jacqueline Jules

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Though the first U.S. Census didn't start until 1790, the Forest Lake Elementary School...

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Vote!

By: Eileen Christelow

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The history of voting in the United States is presented using a town's mayoral election as...

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Wackiest White House Pets

By: Katherine Gibbs Davis

Age Level: 6-9 years old

How are dogs, alligators, sheep, cats, and a host of other animals similar? They've all...

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We Are Good Citizens

By: Ann Bonwill

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Kids can be good citizens, too. They have freedoms within the groups they belong to and...

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We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

By: David Catrow

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

The dry, difficult words from the preamble to the constitution are made easy to understand...

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We the People: The Constitution of the United States

By: Peter Spier

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

In this visual celebration of the U.S. Constitution and America's founding fathers, Peter Spier...

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We the People: The Story of Our Constitution

By: Lynne Cheney

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

An illustrated history of how the Constitution came to be. In May 1787 delegates from across the...

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What Can a Citizen Do?

By: Dave Eggers

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Across several seemingly unrelated but ultimately connected actions, we watch how kids turn a...

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What Lincoln Said

By: Sarah Thomson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Lincoln's own words punctuate this overview of his life and times including lighter moments...

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What's the Big Deal About Elections

By: Ruby Shamir

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

From ballots to bonfires, from suffrage to stumping, this kid-friendly picture book filled with...

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What's the Big Deal About Freedom

By: Ruby Shamir

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From the Constitution to civil rights, from women's rights to the four freedoms, this picture...

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Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting, Campaigns, and Elections

By: Peter Barnes

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Featuring Woodrow G. Washingtail, a civic-minded mouse with presidential ambitions, readers will...

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

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A Kids' Guide to America's Bill of Rights

By: Kathleen Krull

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Find out what the Bill of Rights is and how it affects your daily life in this fascinating look...

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Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights that Changed America

By: Russell Freedman

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Fifty years ago well-known civil rights leaders came together with other lesser known but key...

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Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice

By: Debbie Levy

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

This graphic biography tells the story of  the shy little girl became a child who...

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Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty

By: Tonya Bolden

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

What led up to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation? Who were the abolitionists and what...

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cover of "Generation Fix" showing six teenagers, a lightbulb, and a tree

Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World

By: Elizabeth Rusch

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Young people see a need and work to better their world in this upbeat chronicle of youthful...

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How the U.S. Government Works

By: Syl Sobel

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

This easy-to-read book for children explains the federal system as it works in the U.S. today,...

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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

This fact and fun-filled look at female contributions to the American Revolution provides a...

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Kid Presidents

By: David Stabler

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Growing up is never easy, not even when one is on a path to the White House. Though each of...

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Know Your Rights!: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution

By: Laura Barcella

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

In simple, accessible language, this book describes how the Constitution was drafted and who the...

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Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger

By: Anita Silvey

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Pete Seeger lived a long life sharing his music and his convictions about equality with...

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March: Book One

By: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin

Age Level: 9-12 years old

John Lewis, son of a sharecropper, grew up to become an activist and later, a U.S. Congressman....

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Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

By: National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Over 100 well-known authors and illustrators have provided pieces to this fascinating compendium...

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President of the Whole Fifth Grade

By: Sherri Winston

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Fiction

A funny, heartfelt chapter book that illuminates the election process while inspiring determined...

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Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote

By: Kerrie Logan Hollihan

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

The century-long struggle for women’s suffrage in the United States. In addition to its lively...

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The Bill of Rights: Protecting Our Freedom Then and Now

By: Syl Sobel

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

When the U.S. Constitution was first written, many of the freedoms we now take for granted were...

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The Everything U.S. Constitution Book

By: Ellen Kozak

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

This accessible guide contains the complete text of the Constitution, with short, descriptive...

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The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents

By: Kate Messner

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

A delightful march through our nation’s presidents, focusing on where they were and what they...

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Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation

By: Peggy Thomas

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

A well-research picture book biography of Jefferson, with source notes for each quotation....

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Stirring poems and vibrant collage illustrations combine to celebrate the life of Fannie Lou...

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Voices from the March on Washington

By: J. Patrick Lewis

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Poetry

An August day on the national Mall has been made famous by the powerful "I Have a Dream" speech...

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We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

By: Wade Hudson Cheryl Willis Hudson

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Fifty of the foremost diverse children's authors and illustrators — including Jason...

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What Is the Constitution?

By: Patricia Brennan Demuth

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

The Framers — 55 men from almost all of the original 13 states — argued fiercely for many months...

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illustrated cover of When You Grow Up to Vote showing kids around the word vote.

When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You

By: Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Markel

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Eleanor Roosevelt’s book on citizenship for young people now revised and updated for a...

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Words That Built a Nation: Voices of Democracy That Have Shaped America’s History

By: Marilyn Miller

Age Level: 9-12 years old

From the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex...

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You Are Mighty

By: Caroline Paul

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Being a good citizen means standing up for what’s right ― and here’s just the way to start. From...

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You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

By: Jean Fritz

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

This biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton is as spirited as the women's rights pioneer herself....

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