Eleanor Roosevelt's Civics Book From Nearly 90 Years Ago Has Been Revamped and Reissued
A children's civics book that Eleanor Roosevelt wrote nearly 90 years ago is making a comeback just in time for the midterm elections, PBS reports. The book, titled When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You, is being reissued with revised text by author Michelle Markel, who previously penned children's books about Hillary Rodham Clinton and the lesser-known Clara Lemlich, a Ukrainian immigrant who led a shirtwaist workers strike in 1909. It also features illustrations by Grace Lin, who's best known for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Dumpling Days.
The 101-page book—suitable for children between the ages of 6 and 12—explains what our elected officials do as well as each citizen's role in a democracy. "Children will come away from the book excited that one day soon they will have the chance to use their own votes to help shape the world they want to live in," Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, writes in an introduction to the book.
A section about voting, for instance, includes the following piece of sage advice: "You may be guided by the choices of your party, but you should also learn, on your own, the facts about the issues and the candidates."
The former First Lady wrote the book in 1932, right after her husband Franklin was elected president. She was raising five children at the time, and wanted them to understand what their parents did and how government worked, according to granddaughter Nancy Ireland.
Ireland tells PBS that the updated book is "very similar to the original" with some minor tweaks. "There was nothing negative [in the original], but it was not as inclusive and, of course, things needed to change, like the number of secretaries in the cabinet," Ireland says. "But I always say—because it's an ability I don't have—my grandmother could envision the way things could be, which is what made her so powerful and so important."
Eleanor Roosevelt was a prodigious writer. In her lifetime, she published 27 books and more than 580 articles, 8000 columns, and 100,000 letters, according to the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. When You Grow Up to Vote is currently available on Amazon for $13.51 in hardcover, and $9.99 on Kindle.