White House Kids

White House Kids by Joe Rhatigan is a nominee for the 14-15 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

Unlike many nonfiction books, White House Kids is targeted directly to kids. From the very first page, the author makes it clear just who his target audience is. He charges young readers to peruse this book and decide whether or not they would like to be a White House kid.

Young readers will enjoy learning that many kids who grew up in this famed residence weren’t exactly angels. As a matter of fact, quite a few were troublemakers…and what kid can’t relate to that! (I especially liked reading about the exploits of Teddy Roosevelt’s kids. It seems my favorite president had some rather rambunctious children.)

Readers will also learn that it’s not easy being a White House kid. As one kid put it, “it’s like living in a fishbowl.” Privacy is nonexistent, parents are always traveling, the press and public always want a piece of these kids, and people often say bad things about their families or even the kids themselves.

Peppered with primary sources and interesting stories, White House Kids is an excellent addition to classroom and library collections. It is a thoroughly entertaining read (even for people like me who really don’t like most nonfiction) and shines a light on an experience that few Americans really think about.

An interesting classroom exercise might be reading this book together and then having students write opinion pieces on why they would or would not want to be a White House kid, using evidence from the book to support their arguments.

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