Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dear President Obama

Picking up this book is akin to being able to look directly into the minds of children and teens across the country, which is a pretty amazing thing. Some of the letters are touching, some are funny and some are downright sad. Nearly all of them are fascinating and there is no way of predicting what thoughts will be revealed with the turn of each page.

Almost as interesting as the book itself is the way the project came to life. On the day following Obama's win, Bruce Kluger and David Tabasky simply emailed their friends, asking what their children would say to our newest President, given the chance. Their inquiry spread by email from friend to friend (as forwards tend to do), until the duo had received nearly one thousand responses. Their little project had snowballed into a major one! We have David's daughter, Stella, to thank for inspiring the project with her letter, which you can read on page five.

Ultimately, 179 of the very best entries were chosen for inclusion in the final product. The authors were careful to represent a range of ages from nearly every region of the country. The result is a very real and wonderful sampling of the concerns and ideas of American children. We read letters from teens who are worried about the state of our economy as well as random thoughts that occupy the minds of younger children.

Four year old Madeline tells Obama that she "would like a real chihuahua and the sick people not to get sick." Hunter, age eight, would like to see a law "that you must eat the meat if you hunt and kill it." Eleven year old Claire requests help for "me and my mom, who is now single, to keep money in our pocket to buy food." Patrick, age 12, state "We have to work together to solve these problems. You need to count on us kids to help because we are the future." Kids are the future, which is exactly why this book is so riveting.

This is a fabulous project, both informative and entertaining. Each submission is interesting in its own right. The children selected their own presentation, which means they have an individual style. There are all types of fonts, paper styles and colors - some are typed, while others are written in cursive or printed . In addition to the letters, there is plenty of artwork, ranging from a gorgeous realistic portrait of Obama to some less realistic (but no less enjoyable) stick figures.

Click here to flip through the book and get a taste for its style. A clever idea paired with enthusiastic participants and great presentation makes this an incredibly neat read for adults and children alike. It's rare to be able to get such different perspectives on a singular event. The book is a humorous and inspiring read and will become a wonderful piece of history!

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