Early Literacy Nonprofit Endorses Top Books to Read with Children During the Presidential Election

#ReadingMatters2020 booklist aims to empower parents to prioritize reading amidst U.S. literacy crisis

Oakland, California, Feb. 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Reading Partners, an early literacy nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing community volunteers to tutor students in under-resourced schools, today shares a list of recommended books for parents to read with their children during the presidential election cycle. The booklist was curated as part of its nonpartisan campaign, #ReadingMatters2020 to inject conversations about literacy into the democratic process taking place across the nation in 2020. 

“It is absolutely essential that we elevate awareness of the US literacy crisis across party lines during the 2020 campaign cycle,” said Karine Apollon, CEO, Reading Partners. “We decided to create this booklist as a way to engage parents and ultimately children, empowering them with an important dialogue focused on democracy and inclusive messages such as ‘every voice matters’ and ‘anyone can become President’. The result is a list of inspirational books that will help to educate, entertain and diversify reading libraries at home.” 

Research shows that students who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are four times less likely to graduate on time. Additionally, 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores reveal that only 35 percent of US fourth graders are reading at grade level—and only 21 percent of economically disadvantaged fourth graders. Today, it is estimated that 32 million adults in the US cannot read. Addressing the literacy crisis in the early elementary years, can help end the destructive trends of cyclical poverty and racial inequality.   

“The content we choose to put in front of our children is of the utmost importance,” continued Apollon. “Empowering children with books that both represent them and teach them about the broader world in which they live is absolutely critical. Teaching all children about the role they play in society — and that their voices matter, that their votes will one day matter — is all part of a thriving democracy.”

#ReadingMatters2020 Booklist 

  • Grace for President: The main character, Grace, is shocked that there has never been a woman president. She decides to enter the school election. Readers are exposed to responsible campaigning practices, election conventions, the electoral college, and voting. In the end, Grace wins the election! 
  • Duck for President: Duck wants to make a change on his farm, so he hosts an election. Once he wins, he sees the work is hard. In an effort to improve work for the “boss” of the farm, he runs for mayor to make bigger changes. Again he wins, and again he learns leading is even harder at this level. And so it goes until he is president and learns a true appreciation for how much work goes into being a leader.  
  • What’s the Big Deal About Elections: A great informational text that shares fun and important facts about elections at a digestible level. Think; everything from why elections are held on certain days, who was able to vote and when, and the formation of political parties.
  • Lilian’s Right to Vote: This book is a historical account of the struggles of African Americans throughout history, celebrating the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Readers learn about the different actions that were taken to keep their vote silenced through discrimination and tests. Civil Rights and the path to the ballot box are beautifully recounted as 100-year-old Lilian walks to finally vote for the first time after many failed attempts.
  • If I Ran for President: This book dives into what it takes to be president including understanding all of the challenges facing the country and the people you represent. Readers are introduced to vocabulary around the election process and understand the weight of responsibility for the president.
  • When You Grow Up to Vote: Originally published in 1932, this book is written by Eleanor Roosevelt and explains what our elected officials do as well as each citizen's role in a democracy.   Updates have been made in the rerelease to make it more inclusive through illustrations. The book also talks about all civil servant roles, not just elected officials. Firefighters, teachers, and garbage men are all highlighted and connected to why voting matters in their chosen field.
  • What Can a Citizen Do: This book explores what it means to be a citizen—that as a member of society we have a responsibility to be active and involved. Empowering messages about joining a cause, speaking up, or writing letters show how citizens have the chance to change the world. 
  • Bold and Brave: Ten Heros Who Won Women the Right to Vote: This book introduces young readers to ten American women who worked tirelessly for women’s rights. It focuses on the work of bold, brave activists and suffragists across history and, ultimately, looks optimistically to the future.
  • So You Want to be President: A historical look at the first 41 presidents of the United States.  Readers will have fun looking at who they were personally as well as what they contributed to our national story.


In addition to the booklist, #ReadingMatters2020 highlights three key actions people can take to strengthen their local communities by advocating and activating around early literacy.

  1. CONTRIBUTE - Become a volunteer tutor or donor with a proven program like Reading Partners to help young students build the reading skills and confidence they will need to reach their full potential.
  2. SHARE - Share the #ReadingMatters2020 campaign video to spread the word about the positive ripple effect that comes from helping a child learn to read.
  3. ADVOCATE - Tell your local, state, and national elected officials that literacy is an important issue they cannot ignore.

To become a volunteer with Reading Partners, go to readingpartners.org, or to learn more about the #ReadingMatters2020 campaign, please visit readingpartners.org/readingmatters2020 today.

About Reading Partners
For more than 20 years, Reading Partners has empowered students to succeed in reading and in life by engaging community volunteers to provide one-on-one tutoring. Since its founding, the national nonprofit organization has mobilized more than 60,000 community volunteers to provide proven, individualized literacy tutoring to nearly 60,000 elementary school students in over 400 under-resourced schools across ten states and the District of Columbia. Visit readingpartners.org to learn more about our program impact, or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.


Photo of a student and volunteer tutor in a Reading Partners reading center (Photo Credit: Reading Partners) To learn more about the #ReadingMatters2020 campaign, please visit readingpartners.org/readingmatters2020.