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Building Political Literacy

Brienna Rossiter, Focus Readers Editor

Today is Super Tuesday, and news about candidates and elections is everywhere. But it can be hard to tell which statements and opinions to believe, especially for students who have a limited understanding of how the US political system works.

Our Groundbreaking Women in Politics series can help! Each book provides basic explanations of political processes and vocabulary that help readers understand not just the book’s subject but also government in general.

For example, Ilhan Omar walks readers through Omar’s involvement at the city, state, and national levels, giving a basic overview of their similarities and differences. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains terms such as district and constituent and describes how an area’s demographics can influence what kind of candidates tend to have success there. The book’s lesson plan reinforces these ideas with a
trivia game based on terms related to elections.

The series also helps readers begin to think about how voters evaluate political candidates. Kamala Harris describes Harris’s legal career as an example of how voters sometimes use a candidate’s past decisions to predict future actions. And Tammy Duckworth explains the process a bill goes through before becoming a law, helping readers explore why passing many laws—or even getting bills through committees—is sometimes used to evaluate a politician’s success.

The lesson plan for Kamala Harris goes one step further, asking students to form their own opinions. It has students write an essay explaining whether they think it’s okay for a politician to change his or her stance on an issue, supporting their answer with evidence and reasoning. By providing context and encouraging critical thinking, this series helps equip students to be informed citizens.

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