Are you teaching your children about the elections? We’re having assembly elections in 5 Indian states this week, and the national elections are also due next year! Bombarded with ads on television, on the radio, and everywhere we turn, it’s obvious to young children that something different is happening and that we will be choosing a new leader. It is our responsibility as citizens to educate kids about the democratic process of elections and voting. So, what better time than now, to introduce children to how our government works, our constitution, elections, voting and what our role is in it all.
What you can do to get your kids election ready and civics-savvy!
Take the opportunity to talk to your children about voting and electing a leader. Talk about some simple issues that candidates stand for and how they want to make changes for a better future. Discuss with them about how voting works and why voting matters! Here are some things you can do:
- Make a game out of the election season! Count political signs when you are on the road. You could even keep score for who sees the most (or who sees the most of a certain candidate or party). Not only will that keep the children busy in the car, it will also be an opportunity for kids to learn about issues and elections.
- Conduct a quiz on the parties, candidates and election symbols.
- Try writing your own family constitution. This is a wonderful way to teach younger kids about the important values on which you base your own decisions. And it will help children understand what it takes to run a family (and a country).
- Create your own Polling Booth and Vote (Vote for which book to read today, maybe!). Encourage everyone in your family to vote for their favorite meal, bedtime story, place to go to, or a game to play. Review the results together as a family. Children will understand that they make lots of choices every day—but when it comes time to make a group decision, voting gives everyone a fair chance to speak up and be heard.
- Create a campaign poster, and follow it up with a mock-election to choose a “leader” for your home. See Pretend section below.
Let your children pretend to be Chief Minister of the house for a day! Make a few basic rules that apply to the family. See activity above on creating a constitution for your family.
Have a simple conversation by asking your children what they would do if they were to become Chief Minister of the state.
Read a few enlightening books about voting, elections and our constitution. Some of these talk about the Indian Consitution and how our Legislature works. These are for 8+-year-olds, but you can always read out the simpler bits.
Former Chief Justice Leila Seth makes the words of the Preamble to the Constitution understandable to even the youngest reader. What is a democratic republic, why are we secular, what is sovereignty? Believing that it is never too early for young people to learn about the Constitution, she tackles these concepts and explains them in a manner everyone can grasp and enjoy. Accompanied by numerous photographs, captivating and inspiring illustrations by acclaimed illustrator Bindia Thapar, and delightful bits of trivia, We, the Children of India is essential reading for every young citizen.
Our Constitution deals with issues basic to the functioning of the Indian government: Fundamental Rights and how they operate, the Directive Principles and why we need them, how powerful the states of the Union are and much more. With interactive activities, fun illustrations and thought-provoking questions to encourage students, this is a book every school-going child must have.
The Legislature discusses the powers and functions of the law-making body of our country, its composition and how it functions in coordination with the other branches of Government, namely, the Executive and the Judiciary. It also outlines the relationship between the different components of the Legislature – the Lok Sabha, tha Rajya Sabha and the Speaker. With fun illustrations, interesting facts and interactive activities, this book is a must-have for every school-going child.
Fiction / Picture Books
These books are stories with election or voting as the theme or as parts of the story. We couldn’t find many Indian books on these themes! (Are the children’s authors listening??) But we have picked a few international reads that have elections or voting themes that children of all nationalities can connect with.
Nine-year-old Yasmin intends to read a book a day for the rest of her life. Book Uncle, who runs a free lending library on the street corner, always has the perfect book for her. But when Book Uncle seems to be in trouble, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something. With the elections coming up and the grown-ups busy with their own affairs, what difference can Yasmin and her friends possibly make? Will they get help from Karate Samuel, the eccentric superstar who’s standing for Mayor? Yasmin gets to work, ideas begin to fly like feathers, and soon everything starts to spin out of control.
The story is a simple one about a class that gets to establish a new school rule but first, they must decide on a new rule. Amelia Bedelia’s teacher takes suggestions from the class and then the next day they vote but it’s a tie! A nice part of this story talks about a child who is sick and sends in an absentee vote via a phone call. In the end the children decide to have homework free Wednesdays.
Election season is here and Monster is ready to vote! But why cast your ballot when you can run for president instead? With speeches, debates, and a soapbox or two, Monster’s newest tale is a campaign encouraging kids to take a stand and fight for what they believe in.
The fifth-grade class election is shaping up as a close contest between class clown Lucas Cott and one-time teacher’s pet Cricket Kaufman. It’s just possible that the student with the greatest leadership ability is Julio Sanchez, but Julio’s too busy running Lucas’s campaign to notice. Or is he? And how can Julio throw his hat into the ring without betraying his best friend?
In this 1999 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, young Thembi accompanies her 100-year-old great-grandmother to the polling place in the first all-race elections in South Africa. Infirm and housebound, Gogo is determined to vote and does so with a little help from her community. This story can help younger children understand the importance of the electoral process through its depiction of one woman anxious to vote for the first time in her life.
Hey, you! Yes, you with the dazzling smile! The donkey wants your vote. So does the elephant. And each will do just about anything to win your support. Brag? Sure! Flatter? Absolutely! Exaggerate, name-call, make silly promises and generally act childish? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Soon, the tension mounts and these two quarrelsome candidates resort to slinging mud (literally) and flinging insults. And what happens when the election results are in? Well, let’s just say the donkey and the elephant are in for a little surprise — and a certain bewhiskered, third-party candidate is in for a first term. Vote for Me! is a timely satire of American politics, but it’s a story readers of all nationalities and ages will recognize. Comical, retro illustrations (in shades of blue and red, of course) are completely winning, and the dueling duo’s insult-laden exchanges promise to have readers laughing out loud.
Here are some videos/articles from Mocomi that can help understand our government:
Learn more about the Electronic Voting Machine in this video:
We encourage all of our readers to take the time to GO VOTE! Show kids how the voting process works by taking your child with you.
Let us know if you have more ideas that can you can use to explore and explain Elections with your children. Do check out the Elections Website to learn more.