St. George, J., & Small, D. (ill.) (2000). So you want to be President? New York: Philomel Books. ISBN: 9780399234071
Annotation: This book examines the characteristics, hobbies and behaviors of the past US Presidents, and delivers many little known factoids and similarities between the Presidents.
Reaction: Amazingly, this is the first time I’ve ever read this book; I remember shelving it a bunch when I was a library page in high school, but never picked it up, which is unfortunate, as it’s wonderful. I really like the way St. George provides lots of information about all the Presidents, including silly facts about them, such as how Ford, Bush SR, and Clinton hit spectators with golf balls during a game. St. George doesn’t shy away from pointing out mistakes or shortcomings of the Presidents, such as Franklin Pierce’s accident during his first battle or the scandals caused by Harding, Nixon or Clinton. I also really liked her closing statements about how being a President means more than just greed and power and how she instructs any Presidential hopefuls to model themselves after the best Presidents.
The text is fun and informative, but the art is especially wonderful. Small’s Presidential caricatures are hilarious, and I love the way he illustrates the text, like the crane lifting Taft into the bathtub or all the William’s in cheer-leading costumes. He also wonderfully depicts the serious parts of the text too: the way Clinton and Nixon walk away from the Lincoln Monument in shadows with their heads hanging really allows the reader to feel the guilt and shame of their actions.
Though this book is a little dated now, I would still use it as part of a 5th grade social studies unit to teach students about the Presidents we’ve had. Additionally, part of the assignment can be to research George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama and come up with facts similar to those in the book.
Winner of the 2000 Caldecott Medal.
This book is on the 2011 Students’ List for “Books receiving votes for Top Ten Favorites from students in Summer 2011.”
Media Used: Ink, watercolor, and pastel chalk
Grade Level: 5th-6th
Subject/Content: Social Studies/Presidents
Summary of Lesson: Students will learn about former and current U.S. Presidents
Focus Question: What fun and interesting facts can you learn about the Presidents?
Books/websites used: So You Want to be President?
White House list of Presidents
–>Read So You Want to be President?
–>Students choose a President to research & present to class
–>Use allotted computer lab/library time appropriately to research chosen President
–>Create engaging presentation
–>Present to class
–>Familiarity with current and former U.S. Presidents
–>Develop research skills
–>Practice presentation and public speaking skills