Presidential election years are exciting here in the good ol' U.S.of A., to say the least. All of us are bombarded with political ads, news stories, and sound bites that range from inspirational to infuriating, which just increase in frequency and urgency in the weeks leading up to Election Day. In my home, with kids aged 9, 14, and 20, we have some pretty lively political discussions, but I don't always have the answers to all of the questions they raise. You can imagine (or recall from your own childhood) how confusing it all can be for a kid -- from the electoral college, to the differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate, why we pay taxes, or how and why states differ in their laws. But it's important -- vital -- for children to know these things, because becoming knowledgable about the country you live in undeniably makes you a better citizen. Part of my job as a parent and Official American Person is to eventually provide my country with well-educated, thoughtful people that are invested in participating in their very precious democracy.

So, where to start? When discussing government and politics with kids, it's really easy to go off on tangents or offer too little or too much info. Papersalt, a Seattle-based publisher, is here to help! I became familiar with their unique spiral-bound books earlier in the year, and was super-impressed with both the format and the quality, so when I saw that they recently released two books about the U.S., I was very eager to check them out, as were the kids.

"Voting & the U.S. Government" is an easy-to-understand presentation of the basics of our democratic system, with a vibrant look and cool graphics, and is written a straightforward, non-partisan, intelligent way. It is very engaging and super-informative; not too dense and not too lightweight. Papersalt books respect that kids are smart, and never talk down to them, or you, for that matter. This is a must-have in your family library.

"My USA" is geared more towards the younger child, featuring fun facts about each of the states. Another great thing about Papersalt books is that they are made out of a slightly-textured flexible plastic rather than paper, so they are just about indestructible. If your kid wants to recite all of the State Birds to you while eating a messy PB & J sandwich, no worries -- you can easily wipe off the mess later! You can write on these books (many have places for notes or other interactivity), and "My USA" is the perfect family roadtrip book to have on hand. MissNine's immediate comment when she picked this book up? "Oh! I can really use this! Thank you!"

With the Presidential election coming up in November, this is the perfect time to get these two books, and both of them offer a fine starting base to talk about government with your kids. Click the links above to see more of the pages and to order, and be sure to check out the rest of the Papersalt line, too. Good stuff.

And, finally, REGISTER TO VOTE and then VOTE on Tuesday, November 6th! It matters.