“Hail to the Chief, he’s the Chief and he needs hailing . . .”
Does anyone else recall those lyrics from the 1996 film, My Fellow Americans when the Presidential Anthem is played? (In the movie, James Garner and Jack Lemmon play former presidents and rivals who pull together against a corrupt new president. Jack Lemmon’s character recalls how he used to sing these made up words when the tune was played for him, and sings them to his presidential foe.)
As we prepare for the State of the Union in January and President’s Day in February, it’s a great time to make some literature connections to history, social studies, and current events. In the February issue of School Library Monthly, Kay Weisman’s article, “Hail to the Chief!” offers book summaries across five categories:
White House Life (sample: Words from the White House, by Paul Dickson)
Founding Fathers (sample: Maira Kalman’s Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything)
Remember the Ladies (sample: First Mothers, by Beverly Gherman)
Assassinations (sample: Tracking an Assassin! Nickolas Flux and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Amerigo Pinelli)
Leaders and Legends (sample: Mac Barnett’s President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath)
Here’s an example, from the Founding Fathers section:
“Before reading the books by Gilpin or Kalman, develop wonder questions that might be answered by the text. After reading, note answers and queries not addressed. Which answers come from the text? Which comes from visuals? What sources might provide additional answers?” (page 41)
Whether or not you have these particular titles in your library, this prompt is an excellent one to use across books and topics! I especially like the latter portion of the question, which provides a specific and focused suggestion for students to interact with the text and illustrations. Thinking about what information was provided– and where and in what format — is a focused strategy for learning to provide evidence to support an idea.
What presidential titles and inquiry activities are you sharing with your students at this time of the year? Tell us in the comments!