Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents

by David Stabler

Other authorsDoogie Horner (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2014


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Call number

J 973.09 ST


Quirk Books (2014), Edition: Illustrated, 224 pages


The kids who grew up to be president were like a lot of other children. Some struggled with schoolwork and got into fights; others pranked their teachers and infuriated their parents. William Howard Taft was forced to take dance lessons. Gerald Ford struggled with dyslexia. Teddy Roosevelt had a bedroom "museum" full of dead animals. "Kid Presidents" features 20 captivating true stories from the childhoods of American presidents, complete with lively text and more than 200 cartoon illustrations.

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User reviews

LibraryThing member Lisanne624
Very cute! The book takes a look at incidents that happened during the childhoods of some of our presidents. These events helped shape the people they eventually became. It also dispels some of the stories that we've all heard before, such as the one about a young George Washington chopping down
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that cherry tree. The stories included are all detailed and feature amusing cartoons which illustrate the points (although in the advance reading copy I received there were a lot of empty gray panels that I assume will have even more cartoons in the final edition of the book). The book divides the stories into three categories: Extracurricular Activities, Fantastic Journeys and It's Not Easy Growing Up. In addition to the more detailed stories included, there are also some small anecdotes about various presidents included at the end of each section. Again, since this was an early reading copy, there were some errors. In the Table of Contents there is a listing for "Presidential Report Cards" which is not in the book, but (somewhat inexplicably) the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling is included (but not listed in the Table of Contents). But there are plenty of interesting stories included, such as how Bill Clinton got so proficient in the saxophone, and what caused Teddy Roosevelt's fascination with natural history. I think kids would get a kick out of reading about how kids like themselves eventually grew up to become national leaders.

I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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LibraryThing member marilynsantiago
What a fun informative book to read. I like the format with the stories about a few of the kid lives of our Presidents and then little bits of facts about them as kids between each section. The cartoon illustrations are fun to. I think this is a great book to read and/or discuss with an elementary
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school aged kid. i am looking forward to having my grandchild read the book and then discuss it with her myself.
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LibraryThing member lebluebird
Cute book. Super easy read. I finished it in one sitting. The cartoons are adorable. I think it would be more fun for a major history buff. Good book for young kids, too!

I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
LibraryThing member lostinavalonOR
Readable for both kids and adults, this is a great resource that makes learning about our presidents more fun! I loved the fun facts and cute illustrations and thought it was all really applicable to our homeschooling studies. I'm sure my kids will enjoy it for years to come.

I received this as part
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of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
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LibraryThing member Merryann
Entertaining, upbeat, informative…what a great book! I loved the pictures and thought the illustrations and text worked well together. Some important life lessons shine through in these stories, but it’s properly left to the reader to determine which bits of wisdom are personally relevant. I
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think students will enjoy this book. Reluctant readers may be glad of the short sections that allow them to finish stories and learn interesting things in a fairly brief amount of time. The quirkiness of the subject matter will give them plenty of reasons to return to the book for further reading. I liked Kid Presidents, and appreciated the way it stuck to the subject of childhood, leaving politics out. The presidents as human beings were really brought to life for me.
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LibraryThing member RobSchultz
This book was a lot of fun. A collection of anecdotes, many of which were unfamiliar to me, about many of our presidents when they were kids. The illustrations were a lot of fun and certainly caught the eye of my 8 yr old son. He has been enjoying this book right along with me. This was a preview
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copy, which still has a lot of work left to get to the finished edition (as a lot of blank space was left --probably for sidebar info and other illustrations). I look forward to the final edition i9n the fall of 2014. Highly recommended!!!
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LibraryThing member torrey23
I enjoyed this book. It is written at a level appropriate for children. It is engaging, and will help children understand the presidents, and, consequently, American History. This book tells stories about the presidents when they were children. This helps children draw parallels to their own lives.
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The presidents were not always great men, they began as we all do; they were just children with the same reckless tendencies and desire for fun.
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LibraryThing member thmazing
I'm ten and I really liked it because well first of all it allows me to compare my life with theirs (and frankly their life was a lot cooler than). It was also funny and I kept repeating it to my family. You should definitely read this book if you want some Back round info about the Presidents when
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they were young.
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LibraryThing member sincostani
This book is very informative and fun at the same time, I think an essential quality for children's non-fiction. The writing style is very easy to read and the illustrations are full of whimsy, I think any child interested in US history would enjoy it. I'm a Canadian mother currently living in the
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US and learned a lot from this book myself! The stories the author chose to include were all captivating, whether inspirational in nature or to tell tale of naughtiness, I found them all enjoyable. I highly recommend this book to young readers.
Note: I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program.
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LibraryThing member Rena613
Received this from for review.

This book is great. Even though my 11 yr old son has about a dozen (fiction) books out from the library, he immediately went to read this one (non-fiction). The stories are hilarious and it's really interesting to get a glimpse of what these famous men
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were like as little kids who got into a lot of crazy situations. My 14 yr old daughter also read it and liked it. I recommend this book to all kids and to teachers to have this in their class libraries.
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LibraryThing member sweeks1980
As a fan of trivia and American history, I loved David Stabler and Doogie Horner's "Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents." Not only are the anecdotes engaging and fun, but they also provide another, lesser-known side to the men who once occupied the Oval Office. This
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makes these individuals seem more real and human than the encyclopedia entries and official biographies on them. For instance, Stabler describes Richard Nixon's disastrous foray in a school production of "The Aeneid," where a pair of too-small boots ruined his concentration and his
performance. While the story and the accompanying pictures (expertly rendered by Horner) are humorous, they also show a relatable side to Nixon since everyone has his or her own embarrassing experience. Furthermore, Nixon's perseverance in his
pursuit of acting not only provides closure for the story and a moral of sorts, it also provides a nice connection to Nixon's adult trials and his unwillingness to give up.

Adding to the readability is the book’s format, which alternates between longer sections (around 8 pages in length) dedicated to a single president and his childhood exploits and themed sections on topics such as early work experiences, pranks, and teacher comments. This allows for more presidents to be included (some presidents appear more than once), and it helps break up the sections. Stabler, who has already written books like “The Secret Lives of Great Authors” under his adult alter ego Robert Schnakenberg, does a nice job using engaging and kid-friendly language throughout the book, and his humor appeals to both adults and children. While younger readers can take some of his assertions at face value, adults will likely get a chuckle because of their additional knowledge of the situations and the presidents. A prime example of this is when Stabler describes Nixon’s failed performance as possibly “the worst, most humiliating night of his life” (I’d argue that having to tender your resignation live on television might be more humiliating). Interspersed with the lively and accessible text are colorful and humorous illustrations that help bring the words to life.

Overall, “Kid Presidents” is an informative and enjoyable book for all ages. It would make the perfect addition to a classroom or school library and would be a fun read aloud book that both children and adults could appreciate.
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LibraryThing member elzbthp
My 9 year old daughter and I loved this book! There is no way she'd normally pick up a book about the U.S. presidents, but approaching them through their childhoods is such a clever hook- it worked! The facts and stories and descriptions are so engaging and fun, the illustrations are terrific...
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this is an all-around great book for kids (and for the adults reading with/to them!)
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LibraryThing member smcgurr
This is my nine-year old daughter's review: This is a fascinating book. The Kid Presidents lived interesting lives. If you want to learn more about the presidents, this is a good book for you. The illustrations are good. The kid presidents sometimes pulled pranks. This is a recent book. It even has
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stuff about Barack Obama. Did you know that Richard Nixon once did a play but the boots were too small and didn't fit so he had to squeeze into them? His teachers had to push and force the shoes on. My favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt because he was obsessed with seals. It is a good book for third, fourth, and fifth graders.
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LibraryThing member hawaiianmermaid701
I really enjoyed this book! I liked the stories they chose, most of them I was unfamiliar with, so I felt like I was learning while enjoying this book.

I really liked how the book was organized into different categories of story, as well as some more in depth stories sprinkled in to give more
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background on the specific president. This book was very enjoyable, and educational!
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LibraryThing member keeneam
Great stories, I am a teacher and I took this to class to read a few. The kids thought the were hilarious. Some were even willing to pick one of these presidents for their hero reports coming up. I had a ton of hands when I asked who wanted to finish it first.
LibraryThing member sdunford
I seem to be the only one who was not thrilled with this book -- I felt a great disconnect.

Yes, these folks were kids before they were presidents -- and when they were they did interesting kid things -- but what did that have to do with becoming president or with what kind of a President they
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were?? With a few exceptions, this question remained unanswered.

Eisenhower learned never to get mad in public -- and?? (hint as Supreme Commander in Europe that might of helped)

Grant loved horses and? (couldn't think of a reason why that effected his Presidency)

And then there was the the stand-alone " Thomas Jefferson's best friend was an enslaved man named Jupiter" -- really - how did that effect his stand on slavery - and while we're at it did Jupiter have a say in the relationship??

In short a good idea -- but such a missed opportunity
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LibraryThing member meacoleman
A fun little book that I really enjoyed reading. David Stabler shares accurate and fun facts about select presidents about how they behaved when they were kids. Doogie Horner's illustrations are clever and funny. A recommended read for adults and children who are fascinated by US presidents.
LibraryThing member cswisher86
Very interested. Some stories I knew, some I didn't. I am a history major and if I were teaching a history class, no matter what grade level, I would recommend this. There were, however, many spelling and grammar errors, but being the advanced reader's copy, I hope these kinks were worked out.
LibraryThing member ALoyacano
This book is a great for any young reader that is interested in history, but might not have the attention span for a dense historical read. The chapters are short and high interest. I also like how the major sections are topics that appeal to a middle school age audience: After School Activities,
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Fantastic Journeys, It's Not Easy Growing Up. The presidents become accessible and identifiable for students.

I teach high school students, so you would like that this would not be appropriate for them, but the cover and layout are so appealing that everyone wants to read it (even my father couldn't resist).

I think this is definitely worth a purchase.
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LibraryThing member Winnemucca
This is a fun read for all ages.
I loved young Ulysses S. Grant's first lesson in horse trading. (p. 21)
Can you believe a president received a $5 ticket for speeding on a horse? (p. 26)
Have you ever heard that forcing a child to write with his non-dominant hand can cause speech impediments? One of
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our presidents suffered from this frustration. (p. 184)
The interesting facts and humorous illustrations make this a perfect read for a junior high audience. Guess what kids? Even our prospective presidents were kids just like you though it is sometimes hard for us to imagine.
A teacher often reminds us that the kids we work with at school aren't what they will eventually become. Never give up. You may be teaching a prospective president.
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LibraryThing member zzshupinga
ARC provided by LibraryThing

We should all go ahead and get one thing out of the way, history can be boring as sin for young kids to study. Oh I know, its exciting and there is some great stuff in it that kids would enjoy. But the people that write the history books? And the *cough* politicians and
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people *cough* that try to rewrite history? Yeah...they forget how much fun history really is and get stuck on trying to make people memorize facts and figures, instead of remembering that the past can be not only a great teacher, but fun as well. And that’s where books like “Kid Presidents” come in.

In this book David Stabler brings to life stories from sixteen different presidents, including our current one Barack Obama, from when they were kids. And while others have done this type of thing before, they all tend to focus on the same boring story, like George Washington and the cherry tree or Abraham Lincoln and his quest to end vampires...wait neither of those is real? Well dang. Oh well, Stabler has done his research and brings to life stories that ARE real, strange, and just...normal that readers of all ages will enjoy. I mean I learned a lot about the presidents that I hadn’t known before. For example, did you know that George Washington was almost apprenticed to the British Navy before his mom stepped in and put a stop to it? Or that he helped create some of the early maps of Virginia instead? Its true! Even more importantly though, Stabler makes it a point to show how the presidents were just like everyone else growing up. They struggled with homework, got into fights with their siblings, drove their teachers and parents nuts, and had to do stuff they hated, but they still managed to grow up and hold the most important office in the US. Imagine the joy and aspirations so many young children will get reading about past presidents. And wonder if one day they will join their ranks. The only complaint that I have is that Stabler only writes about sixteen of the presidents. While he presents interesting tidbits and facts about all of them throughout the book, I would have loved to see more stories of our past leaders.

One of the things that helps bring this book to life, are the great illustrations that Doogie Horner provides throughout. With a style and movement that reminds me of Charles Schulz, Horner captures the essence of the people that we meet making them feel like the kids next door. For example, within the story Ulysses Grant, one of the illustrations captures Grant at the age of eight buying a horse from a wily farmer. The illustration captures the precocious, but studious nature of the young grant and portrays the farmer as a somewhat rascally, but one that is basically good at heart. Trust me, that’s a lot to try to convey in one image but Horner does a good job of it. The one complaint that I have is about the book cover itself. The only illustration that looks like it was done by Horner is the one of Teddy Roosevelt. The other ones present a caricature of the adult president face, situated on a child’s body. Which is just really, really creep. I’m not sure what led to this style change, but I would have far preferred to see the illustrations as they were in the book.

Although the book has some minor flaws, by and large I recommend it without hesitation. Not just to young readers, but all ages as even adults will learn something new about our past presidents. I hope that Stable and Horner are able to do another book featuring new stories about other presidents and that this is the first in a series. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.
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LibraryThing member jugglingpaynes
Which president could ride bareback and do trick riding? Which had a stutter? Who collected arrowheads? Who was bullied by his big brother? These and many other questions are answered in Kid Presidents by David Stabler. This interesting book of presidential facts shows U.S. Presidents in a way kids
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can understand: as kids. Filled with funny illustrations and interesting facts, it would be hard for any reader to come away from it without learning something new. My only complaint is that only some presidents received full sections in the book, while others only had a sentence or two written about them.

I appreciate the references listed in the back for where children can find more information on some of the presidents. This is a good book for getting young children interested in history and the U.S. Presidents.
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LibraryThing member LibStaff2
3.25-3.5 Stars
A fun collection of interesting tidbits about some of the U.S. Presidents during their childhood years. The sections are loosely separated by topics, not chronological order, and not every POTUS has a story. A starting place for younger kids interested in history and how leaders are
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just like everyone else. Lots of humorous illustrations.

Net Galley Feedback
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LibraryThing member Karen59
id Presidents is a fun, fact-filled book. My daughter, and I, loved learning that our presidents were not perfect kids but were often mischievous, funny, scared, brave just like kids everywhere. We giggled and laughed and were touched by the bravery and determination of many of the presidents. It
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lead to good discussions about why there was only one Black president and why no women have been elected. Good history books should lead to further inquiry and open discussion and this is exactly what Kid Presidents does with its compelling stories and beautiful illustrations. Thank you to NetGalley for giving me this opportunity to review this book for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member hredwards
Won this book in the giveaway.
Very nice book. Really informative in a fun reading style good for both adults and children.
Little known facts about various Presidents when they were growing up. This was an unfinished early copy, would love to read the finished book, because the illustrations were
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very fun in a cartoonish manner.
This is probably one of my favorite books I've read in a while.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

224 p.; 8.25 inches


1594747318 / 9781594747311




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