- Behind the scenes at Usborne
Democracy, elections, voting – how to explain politics to children?
Authors Alex Frith, Rosie Hore and Louie Stowell discuss writing Politics for Beginners – and why the book is important.
Writing a book about politics for children against a backdrop of Brexit and Trump was an interesting challenge. How do you explain turbulent times to someone who hasn’t yet developed a thick and cynical skin? How do you explain why politicians do the things they do, why people protest against the government, or why some countries go to war?
Democracy in the USA
One of the things that helped us in writing the book was remembering that we have always lived in turbulent times on a global scale.
In writing Politics for Beginners, we delved back into history and tried to take off our British blinkers and look at politics as a whole. We researched dictatorships and monarchies, revolutions and elections, terrorism and coups. Some of those happened long ago, some are happening now.
As adults, it can be easy to feel cynical about politics. But in writing this book, we found ourselves trying to see politics from a young reader’s point of view.
Children don’t have the same kneejerk reactions that older people have had time to develop. They ask questions that make adults realize that their assumptions are built on shaky foundations.
Hopefully, this book will help question some of those assumptions, and help children – and adults – think about and discuss questions from “What is democracy?” to “Why are some countries poor?”
We want children to realise that anyone can help change the world and make it better - by thinking about what's fair and what isn’t. By doing research. Above all, by listening to people in different situations.
Politicians aren’t supposed to come up with all the solutions - they're supposed to listen to people and help make sure the best ideas are used to change the world. We hope this book shows children how change can happen, and makes them believe they can help make the world better and fairer.
Being a politician is one of the toughest jobs in the world but the world needs people who are prepared to make difficult decisions and justify them. One of the things we really hope is that this book will encourage more young people to be brave enough to have a go.