Change is in the Air

Fall has officially arrived, ushering in the last leg of what will likely be one of the most controversial elections in our country’s history. With all the talk of rights and responsibilities, no doubt your kids, like mine, are asking a lot of questions!

Whatever your political leanings, it’s a great opportunity to direct attention to the Constitution and the unique privileges it bestows on the citizens of this great country. A little know holiday just crept by us, Constitution day, sometimes called Citizenship Day. Officially September 17, it is observed on the nearest weekday which was Friday the 16th this year. It commemorates the formation and adoption of the Constitution on September 17, 1787 and recognizes all those who have become citizens.

From 20 Fun Facts About the U.S. Constitution:

• Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did not sign the constitution. Both were serving as ambassadors at the time and were not at the Constitutional convention. Jefferson was in France and Adams in England.

• Benjamin was the oldest person to sign the Constitution at age 81.

• Only one amendment has ever been repealed. The 21st Amendment of 1933 repealed, or canceled, the 18th Amendment of 1920, the Prohibition on alcohol.

• The first Thanksgiving, November 26, 1789 was recognized by President George Washington as a day of thanks for the new government. In his official proclamation dated October 3, 1789 it was recommended “to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness” 

• It established a uniform currency. Under the original Articles of Confederation, each state printed its own money.

We’re fortunate in Cleveland to have The Federal Reserve Bank, located downtown and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take advantage of their FREE public tours where the kids can visit The Learning Center and Money Museum for interactive “edutainment” about finances, economics and the history of money.

And if you’re enjoying a crisp fall day at University Circle, visit the Power & Politics exhibition at the Western Reserve Historical Society, an exhibition and video series highlighting the significance of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio on presidential politics. A six part video series, an original production created for this exhibit, can be accessed on YouTube.

And, believe it or not, there is a website that features government-themed websites to inspire kids of all ages to participate in the process and make a difference in their communities. It's sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association and among the sites are Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government and ICivics.

And, most importantly, if you’ll be needing some munchies when watching debates or for the big election night, try some Patriotic Popcorn  an easy treat even little hands can help with. Pop some popcorn, spread it out on a lined tray and drizzle with melted white chocolate and sprinkles. Toss together as you go, adding as much or as little as you like. Let chocolate harden before transferring to bowls or bagging for later.

Some civic-minded reading for younger citizens!


Duck for President, JP Cronin, Doreen

Bad Kitty for President, JF Bruel, Nick

LaRue for Mayor: Letters from the Campaign Trail, JP Teague, Mark

See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes and the Race to the White House, J324.973 G653s Goodman, Susan

Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts, J324.973 S677P Sobel, Syl

How Political Parties Work, J324.20973 F514H Finne, Stephanie

Bill of Rights in Translation: What It Really Means, J342.085 L439B Leavitt, Amie Jane

Divided We Fall, YA Reedy, Trent

Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom, YA 320.473 A547A Jodi Lynn Anderson, Daniel Ehrenhaft & Andisheh Nouraee