SIRS Discoverer: Presidential Election for Kids

presidential election

Image via pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

As we all know, this year’s presidential election has been highly contentious and at times “not suitable for children.” However, it is important for young students to be aware and involved with the election process. So how should teachers handle what is happening with the election?

Teaching Seventh Graders in a ‘Total Mess’ of an Election Season (New York Times) discusses how 7th-grade teachers are facing the challenges of how to handle election discussions in their classroom.

Teachers Use Nasty Election to Spark Polite Student Debate (AP) showcases how teachers are using the election to encourage critical thinking and research skills and suggests some ideas for your students:

–Analyze a newspaper article on the election and write two to three paragraphs about it.

–Take a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, tally Clinton and Trump yard signs and write two to three paragraphs about why the student thinks people in the community might support one candidate over the other.

–Interview five people about who they are voting for and write about why they support a particular candidate.

Still need creative ideas for examining the elections is your classroom? Since the articles and images on SIRS Discoverer are hand-picked by editors you will find content that is age-appropriate for your students. Here are some subject searches to get you started:

Clinton, Hillary Rodham

Trump, Donald

Election 2016

Presidential candidates

#FeatureFriday: Editorial Cartoons in SIRS Discoverer

It’s #FeatureFriday! Learn about editorial cartoons in the Spotlight On… feature of SIRS Discoverer.

The origins of editorial cartoons date back to the eighteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, several magazines such as Punch and Harper’s Weekly were publishing editorial and political cartoons. It was during this time that Thomas Nast,  known as the “Father of the American Cartoon,” popularized editorial cartoons with his take-down of corrupt politicians–particularly “Boss” Tweed. Nast is also known for his creation of the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey.

"Boss" Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast.

“Boss” Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Visual Literacy and Common Core Standards

Several forms of literary and visual devices such as exaggeration, personification, symbolism, irony, satire and caricature are often used in editorial cartoons. Because of this, editorial cartoons support dynamic classroom lessons in Visual Literacy. Cartoons invite students to think critically and analyze what they see in the images. Such cartoons also provided an excellent opportunity to evaluate bias and point of view as most cartoonists illustrate their beliefs towards their subjects.

Find Editorial Cartoons on SIRS Discoverer

Editorial and political cartoons are featured throughout SIRS Discoverer on a wide variety of topics. Cartoons are editorially selected from prize-winning and reliable sources. These cartoons can be located through a Subject Heading search and a Subject Tree search. In addition to these searches, a cartoon can be found within the In the News feature (located in the Spotlight On…) where at the beginning of each month, SIRS editors hand-select an editorial cartoon that focuses on a news event. Students are then invited to answer a question based on the featured text and cartoon.

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

Want to know even more about the editorial cartoons? Patrick Chappatte is the cartoonist who is often featured within SIRS Discoverer. Take a look at his TED Talk where he discusses the power of cartoons.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

We are in the midst of Hispanic American Heritage Month! There is so much to know about the Hispanic presence in the United States and its impact on the country’s development and its continued growth. Populations of Hispanic descent have thrived here since 1565, when Spanish explorers founded the Florida city of St. Augustine. That’s 42 years before English explorers arrived in Jamestown. America has always been Hispanic!

While it’s important to delve into the history of the Hispanic American community and meet prominent Hispanic Americans, it is also valuable to learn about from where Hispanic Americans have descended. For example, did you know that the beautiful South American country of Bolivia, ruled by the Inca Empire for centuries, was colonized by Spain in the 1500s? And that the mountainous Central American country of Honduras was once part of the Mayan civilization? Perhaps you can challenge your students to pick a country, research its history and cultures, and present their findings.

Mayan Altar in Honduras

Mayan Altar in Honduras
Image by Dennis Jarvis via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

Or, direct their research with questions so that they can research for answers! Maybe you want to try a history question like “What Central American country was home to the Olmec civilization thousands of years ago? What other ancient civilizations lived in this country and what impact did they have?” Or a cultural question like “What is a quinceanera? It originates from the Spanish word quince, which means what?”


Image by Razi Machay via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

This information and much more is available on SIRS Discoverer. During the month of October our Spotlight of the Month highlights Hispanic American Heritage Month. Not only can your students learn about the histories and cultures of Hispanic countries, but they can meet Hispanic American authors, poets, politicians, musicians, civil-rights activists, and more. There’s so much to learn about the United States and the amazing people who compose its beautiful diversity.

Spotlight on the Summer Olympics


The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is the first Olympics held in South America.

Let’s take a look at some other Olympic firsts….

1900 Women first competed at the Olympic Games in Paris.

1900 Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera was the first black athlete to compete in the Olympics. He competed for France.

1908 John Taylor, as part of the U.S. relay team in athletics, was the first African-American athlete to win a gold medal.

1912 The Olympics, for the first time, included competitors from all five continents.

1936 The Berlin Olympics were the first games to be televised.

1972 Waldi the dachshund was the first Olympic mascot, appearing at the Munich Olympics.

1984 Professional athletes were first allowed to compete in the Olympics.

2004 The Olympic torch traveled to all five continents for the first time for the Olympics in Athens, Greece.

The Olympics provides several teachable moments for you and your students. This month the SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month focuses on the Olympics. Here you can find articles and images that examine the history of the Olympics as well as editorially selected content for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Notable Canadians

Learning about other countries and exploring their histories and cultures are integral parts of any K12 research. During the month of July, SIRS Discoverer’s Spotlight of the Month features articles and Web sites on the country of Canada. Our Spotlight of the Month presents information on Canada’s provinces and way of life, but it also highlights Canadian people who have influenced our world.


Several authors used Canadian themes and landscapes into their works. Lucy Maud Montgomery created the popular Anne of Green Gables books. Farley Mowat, best known for his books People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf, often wrote about the Canadian North. Although her works are primarily aimed at adults, Margaret Atwood makes Canada–primarily Toronto–the setting for many of her books.

Artists and Entertainers

Emily Carr (1939) Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends
By Emily Carr (Malahat Review (archive)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Emily Carr painted Canadian landscapes and was often inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Canadian comedians Michael J. Fox, Mike Meyers, and Jim Carrey all started their careers in Canada. They have achieved fame and success all over the world


Dr. Birute Galdikas

Birute Mary Galdikas
By Simon Fraser University – University Communications (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfupamr/5577180639/) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Birute Mary Galdikas is a famed primatologist and founder of Orangutan Foundation International.

Canadian scientists Irene Ayako Uchido and Ralph Steinman made great advancements in the field of biology.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space.

Historical Figures

Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain
By Book author: François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, 1787-1874; (Boston: Dana Estes & Charles E. Lauriat (Imp.), 19th C.), 190. Etching signed: E. Ronjat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


French explorer Samuel de Champlain  founded Quebec and Lake Champlain is his namesake.

Laura Secord was a woman who warned Canadian troops about an attack during the War of 1812.

Direct your K12 students and young library patrons to ProQuest SIRS Discoverer and explore all that is Canadian! We are pretty sure that you’ll learn something new about this beautiful and diverse country.

Librarian, Author, Centenarian

Beverly Cleary in 1971

Beverly Cleary in 1971
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Beverly Cleary turns 100 years old on April 12. As a kid growing up in the 1970s one of my favorite authors was Beverly Cleary. I checked out every one of her books from the library, setting me on the road to a lifetime of reading. What captivated so many young readers is her humor in everyday situations. Her characters are imperfect just like real kids. They behave like real families and her two most well-known characters, sisters Ramona and Beezus Quimby treat each other like actual siblings do.

Beverly Cleary started her career as a librarian in Washington. At 33 she decided to become a writer when she didn’t see the books she wanted on the shelves. She wrote series and historical fiction. She also touched on topics that are serious to children, such as divorced parents and bullies at school. She also won numerous awards including the American Library Association’s 1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the Newbery Medal for children’s literature in 1984.

Schools and libraries have been named in her honor and many will celebrate this amazing milestone for an author who has delighted generations of readers.

Celebrate the 100th birthday of Beverly Cleary with your students. Here are some resources to get you started.

In addition, SIRS Discoverer has content to learn more about Beverly Cleary.

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Women’s History Month on ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

March is Women’s History Month. Take this opportunity to research the countless women who have contributed to history. President Barack Obama issued a proclamation stating that “during Women’s History Month, we recognize the victories, struggles, and stories of the women who have made our country what it is today.” Women’s History Month corresponds with International Women’s Day and women all over the world have contributed to women’s history.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai
 By DFID – UK Department for International Development (Malala Yousafzai: Education for girls) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer has endless content on women who have contributed to science, government, and human rights:

  • Anne Frank kept a diary about her life hiding from the Nazis and became world famous after her early death.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell was born in England and became the first female doctor in America.
  • Frances Perkins was the first woman to hold a U.S. Cabinet office. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed her as Secretary of Labor in 1932.
  • Grace Hopper was an admiral in the U.S. Navy and computer scientist–she pioneered “user-friendly” computer software and she also coined the computer term “bug.”
  • Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides which eventually became the Girl Scouts.
  • Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban–she became a worldwide advocate for the education of girls.
  • Marie Curie performed groundbreaking work in physics and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
  • Sandra Day O’Connor is a retired judge and the first female U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Join SIRS Discoverer’s March Spotlight of the Month in honoring Women’s History Month. Learn about the women’s suffrage movement in the United States, meet African-American women who have changed history, read about early female politicians, follow women’s increasing role in the military, and celebrate women’s scientific achievements. Perhaps you will become inspired to thank a woman who has made a positive impact in your life!

Black History Month on ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

February is Black History Month! In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week and then in 1976 President Gerald Ford proclaimed February as “Black History Month.” African Americans have played vital roles in shaping the country’s past and present. We encourage you to observe Black History Month in your classroom by teaching about African Americans. On ProQuest SIRS Discoverer, young researchers can find articles and images on the accomplishments, history, culture, and heritage of African Americans. Here are samples of what they can find:

Ruby Bridges

By Uncredited DOJ photographer (Via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Sojourner Truth — Born into slavery she was an advocate for abolitionist movement and women’s rights.
  • Ralph Bunche — A diplomat and a mediator working for the United Nations, he was the first African American to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. — One of the civil rights movement most well-known figures, his historic “I Have a Dream” speech still influences.
  • Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson — These barrier-breaking African-American athletes defied racist attitudes.
  • Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison — Award winning and prolific, these authors wrote about the experiences of African American women.
  • Ruby Bridges, the Greensboro Four, and the Freedom Riders — These children and students played pivotal roles in the civil-rights movement.

Go to February’s Discoverer Spotlight of the Month and pay tribute to Black History Month.

Teen Driving Awareness Month

January is Teen Driving Awareness Month presented in the SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month. Safe driving is an important topic to discuss with beginning drivers as well as kids still too young to drive. Although studies show that more and more teenagers are waiting longer to get their driver’s licenses, thousands of teenagers still receive their driver’s licenses each year. Unfortunately, automobile accidents are the leading cause of deaths of people 15 to 20 years of age according to most recent data (2009) from the National Center for Health Statistics. Almost 300,000 teenagers are treated for car-accident injuries each year, and about 2,500 are killed.

Teen Driving Awareness

Those are pretty significant reasons for talking about driving safety with teenagers. In addition to inexperience, several issues face young drivers. The rise of technology has brought many distractions to driving. Using a smartphone for texting, browsing social media, or taking photos can take a young driver’s attention away from the road. Talking to passengers, searching for music, and poor weather conditions can also cause major trouble on the road.

Introduce the topic of teen driving with your students…and help keep them safe on the road. You can do so by directing them to SIRS Discoverer to find editor-selected articles and photos. Also, explore the Pro/Con Leading Issue: Teens and Driving for in-depth coverage.

Poetry for Children

Robert Frost once defined poetry as “serious play.” Poetry does many things to help children learn about their lives and feelings. Poems can be silly or funny while providing serious messages. Rhyming makes poems easier to memorize and fun to read aloud. Countless authors have written poetry for children. SIRS Discoverer also provides content on these authors as well as further reading about children’s poetry.

Limerick by Edward Lear

Limerick by Edward Lear
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Here are 10 authors who write poetry for children. Who is your favorite?

  1. Dr. Seuss
    One of the most famous and beloved authors for children. Most of his writings are in verse. All kids know The Cat in the Hat.
  2. Edward Lear
    This English humorist popularized the limerick. His most famous nonsense poem is The Owl and the Pussycat.
  3. J. Patrick Lewis
    Inspired by Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, Lewis has written over 50 books of poetry for children on a wide variety of subjects.
  4. Jack Prelutsky
    In 2006, Prelutsky became the first Children’s Poet Laureate. His popular books delight readers with poems and illustrations of made-up creatures.
  5. Jacqueline Woodson
    Woodson began writing poetry as a child. She has won numerous literary awards and was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate in 2015.
  6. Jane Yolen
    Yolen writes poetry based on science and history. Her book Owl Moon is written in verse and is intended to help owl species.
  7. Mary Ann Hoberman
    Hoberman also served as the Children’s Poet Laureate. Her poems are about everyday topics such as family, animals, and nature.
  8. Roald Dahl
    Another big name in children’s literature, Dahl’s poems subverted nursery rhymes and fairy tales and often contained surprise endings.
  9. Shel Silverstein
    Silverstein remains hugely popular for his quirky wit and style. His iconic works include Falling Up and Runny Babbit.
  10. Kenn Nesbitt
    Nesbitt served as the Children’s Poet Laureate in 2013. His poems are humorous and he often visits schools to teach children about poetry writing.