Did you know that
• Thomas Jefferson invented the first chair that could spin around?
• John Quincy Adams kept his pet alligator in a bathtub in the White House?
• Theodore Roosevelt’s children once gave a pony a ride in the White House elevator?
• William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the ball on baseball’s Opening Day?
• When he was a boy, George W. Bush dreamed of playing major league baseball?
I discovered all this and more in Grover Cleveland, Again!: A Treasury of American Presidents, by Ken Burns (Knopf Books for Young Readers). The title comes from the response of the author’s young daughters as they played a memory game with their dad. Grover Cleveland is the only one of the presidents who served two nonconsecutive terms of office.
In the introduction, Ken Burns says,
In this book, in addition to describing the important things that the presidents did when they were in office, I talk about who they were as people. After all, presidents have birthdays and brothers and sisters and even pets, just like everybody else! There are also fascinating stories of things that happened to them on their road to the presidency—stories that tell us a lot about their times.
Richly illustrated, this is a book to pour over again and again.
Look for these two also: I am Abraham Lincoln and I am George Washington, by Brad Meltzer (Dial Books).
Part of Meltzer’s series “Ordinary People Change the World,” the books let us see these two great leaders as children and show us that anyone can grow up to make a big difference.
Books like these three help our kids and grandkids develop respect for the office of president, along with the understanding that all leaders are ordinary people in need of wisdom and prayer.
That’s something we grownups could think about as President’s Day approaches too.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV).