If you will be old enough to vote this November, which candidate will you choose?
It’s not such a silly question. Kids know plenty about politics. You probably studied it in school, and why not? The person who gets into office will have a lot to say about your future.
You know about government, so why not learn about the candidates? Start by reading Yes We Can: A Biography of Barack Obama by Garen Thomas.
In this new book, you’ll learn all about the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
Barack Obama’s father was born and raised in Kenya, and came to America to attend college. Obama’s mother was born in Kansas but moved to Hawaii, where she, too, was attending school. Stanley Ann Dunham fell in love with Barack Hussein Obama Sr., and they were married.
Barack Obama Jr. (sometimes called “Barry”) was born in 1961.
While young Obama never really knew his father (when Barry was two years old, Barack Sr. left his family and Ann divorced him shortly afterward), he knew he had family in Kenya. He also had a stepfather from Indonesia, where Barry and his mother lived for a few years and where Obama’s half-sister was born. From Hawaii to Jakarta, back to Hawaii, to California, New York City, and
Kenya, Barack Obama spent his childhood and his early adulthood traveling the world.
Way back when he first started school, Obama told his teachers that he wanted to be president some day. He always wanted to make a difference in the world, and becoming president was one way to do it.
Once he was grown up, Obama still burned with a desire to make a difference. He took a job in Chicago, where he helped an apartment full of people to find jobs and get their homes fixed. Later, after graduation from Harvard Law School, Obama returned to Chicago and started his new career in politics.
Will he make history? Thomas says he already has: Barack Obama is the first African American who is a serious contender for the office of president.
With the Internet and “instant news,” kids are pretty savvy about current events these days. They know this election will affect their future, too, which is why this book is important.
Yes We Can is an intelligent, teen-friendly book that not only gives kids an Obama overview, but also gives important insight into Obama’s background, his wrestlings with racial issues, and his drive for change.
What I liked best about this book is that author Garen Thomas lays bare the angst that young Obama had, his unusual male role models, and the fact that he wasn’t always a “good boy.” Obama was an angry young teen once and he overcame it, which may make him even more of a role model for kids today.
Although this book is meant for kids nine and up, I think that’s a reach. Teens and young adults, though, will love it – particularly if they’re current-events-minded. For them, Yes We Can is a can-do.
Yes We Can: A Biography of Barack Obama by Garen Thomas c.2008, Feiwel and Friends $6.99 / $7.99 Canada 206 pages, includes index
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.