We the kids of the United States of America

Now that we’re officially in 2008, most American adults have an important issue on their minds—returning unwanted Christmas presents. Haha! Just kidding. I was actually referring to the upcoming presidential election. I could go on and on about my particular political leanings and concerns, but this is not the time or place for that. I, like every other adult in this country, have my own opinions and plans when it comes to voting.

I’ve always taken my kids with me to the polls, ever since they were babies. I think it’s important for them to see me taking part in the democratic process. (And sometimes I didn’t have a babysitter. Whatever.) The point is, the conversations we’re having around the dinner table these days about the president and the election are hardly new. Most kids have an interest in this stuff, and there’s all sorts of ways to tailor the information you give them to their age and understanding level.

If you have a child who really seems to be getting into the election process, I have two great resources for you other than the magic phrase “Ask me later.”

First, Nickelodeon has launched their Kids Pick the President site. This one will have an on-air Kids Pick the President Special with Linda Ellerbee on January 13th; after the show, kids have the rest of that week to vote online before their winner is announced on January 18th.

Second, Scholastic News Online has a comprehensive Election 2008 site where kids can get information, vote in a mock primary, and submit questions to the candidates. There are both kid and parent/teacher sections, so there’s something for everyone.

Both sites have background information on the election process as well as a schedule of events for 2008 throughout the campaign season, and both sites have some great ways to get even fairly young kids involved in thinking about the democratic process. And once our children are excited about the process, maybe we’ll remember why it’s a privilege rather than just a pain in the neck. (Yes, I know. I’m being optimistic again. This new year has really changed me….)

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