This week’s word is “Politics.”
Most weeks for Word Wednesday posts I focus on amazing books about science. There seems to be an endless supply of them. Less common are good books about politics. Spend any time looking at the news (or Twitter) and one can’t help but think that perhaps the most important thing we can impart to our children is a good grounding in politics and critical thinking. Publishers Usborne thinks so too, which is why they have delivered Politics for Beginners.
What is Politics for Beginners?
It’s exactly that. A politics primer for ages 10 and upwards. The book is a mix of text and comic book style illustrations with lots of speech bubbles. It looks at the history of politics, political systems, and ideologies, before finishing up with big questions such as, “Is there such a thing as human rights?”, “Am I feminist?”, and “How does the media affect politics?”
The book is broken down into 6 sections:
After a brief preamble about what politics is and what makes a government, the book is broken into 6 chapters.
Chapter 1: All kinds of governments.
How societies have run themselves from Ancient Athens to the birth of the USA. This chapter gives context for the modern democracy. It shows what has come before, giving rise to the way most countries in the world are governed today.
Chapter 2: Political Systems.
A catalog of the types of political system from authoritarian and religious states, communism, and empire, through to the democratic process. This chapter discusses power sharing between the branches of government, executive, legislative, and judicial, and describes how they work together. It also looks at how the governments of the US and UK work. The final part of this chapter is devoted to different types of government, such as local, federal, and international.
Chapter 3: Elections and voting.
Everything you need to know about elections. The concept of political parties, the history of who is allowed to vote and differing types of electoral system are found in this chapter. There is also a discussion of how voting might be rigged or tampered with, which I feel in coming years may be a hot topic.
Chapter 4: Political Change.
Pressure groups, lobbying, and protests are all covered in this section. There is also a history of notable revolutions and resistance movements.
Chapter 5: Political Ideologies.
An examination of the complexities of making society a better place. How wildly different points of view can be held about how best to achieve the same thing. Left, right, big, and small are covered, along with liberal and conservative and capitalism vs socialism. The final pages of this chapter break down the differences between nationalism and patriotism, states and nations.
Chapter 6: Big Questions.
Key questions about society that politics tries to answer or that have a direct bearing on political outlook.
What is “Freedom of Speech?”, “What is immigration?”, and “Who’s responsible for the planet?” are just three of the questions asked in this section. There is also a section on how to argue and debate, and for those with a burning interest in the subject, where they might want to go next with their political fire.
Why Read Politics for Beginners?
As I said at the top of this review. Politics for Beginners is a fundamentally important book. Now, more than ever, we owe it to our children to ensure they understand the world they are growing up in. Politics is often derided or ignored, but it seems, in many ways, more of us are political than ever. Sadly, most of our politics seem to be noise and name calling. This book teaches, not only about respecting differences of opinion but also where those differences might be coming from.
It presents the political system in an easy to understand, accessible fashion. Our children’s generation is likely to be bombarded with political bluster. Short-form soundbites that are more hyperbole than substance. In a rapidly shifting world, an understanding of what underpins the system is likely to be more important than ever. This book is absolutely going to provide that understanding. Politics for Beginners promotes critical thinking and respect for reasoned argument.
I can’t overstate how much I rate this book. I think it should be a compulsory purchase for all school libraries. On my side of the Atlantic, it’s currently an absolute steal on Amazon.co.uk. Buy one for your kids and your school now! It’s available in the US too, though you may want to shop around for a good price.