I honestly can’t recall how I came to know about this wonderful book by Ken Burns. Burns is my favorite documentary film maker and historian. He has done some pretty amazing things with film including a series on the National Parks. Grover Cleveland, Again! is another fantastic work by Burns.
Ken Burns shares in this book that he use to run through the names of the Presidents with his children at bedtime. He would say George, they would answer Washington. Burns would run through all of the Presidents in this way. Grover Cleveland was the only president to have ever been president for two non-consecutive terms. So when Burns would call out Grover the second time, his children would answer, Grover Cleveland, Again! I am playing the same game with my boys.
Usually on Mondays, we sit on the sofa before we begin school for the day and we read a new president. Burns writes a few paragraphs about each president along with some really fun facts, like the crazy pets they owned.
It wasn’t so long ago that my son mentioned Martin Van Buren in passing… like it was no big deal. He remembers everything we read in this incredible book! I was a political science major in college, so I find this book absolutely essential for our home classroom. It gives a framework to history, and an understanding of democracy. I love that Burns reinforces the idea that anyone can be president. He says:
Can you be president? If you born in the United States and are at least thirty-five years old, you can be president. It doesn’t matter if you weigh as much as William Howard Taft (332 pounds) or as little as James Madison (100 pounds). It doesn’t matter if you are as tall as Abraham Lincoln, who was six-foot four, or as short as James Madison (again!), who was five foot four. It doesn’t matter if you’re born really rich like Thomas Jefferson or really poor like Ulysses S. Grant……
He goes on to highlight Barack Obama who is black, John F. Kennedy who was Catholic, Franklin D. Roosevelt who had polio, and Woodrow Wilson who was dyslexic. I love this book! It is so encouraging and inspiring. I am not reviewing this book for a publisher. I just adore it. For homeschooling parents this book is a must!