This is a fascinating, user friendly, thorough and well-presented introduction to politics for children and young people. The starting point is politics in everyday life, making collective decisions as part of a group or team, before moving onto politics at national and international level. Different kinds of governments are introduced, from the first democracy in Ancient Greece. There is a strong historical perspective throughout the book. Key figures (for example Lenin and Mao Zedong) and key events (such as the Boston Tea Party and genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Sreprenica) are included, emphasising the importance of understanding the past. The authors quote philosopher George Santayana on this: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.
We find out about political systems including communism and the rule of empire. There is a particular focus on the democratic system and how it works within the UK on national and local levels. We find out about the role of the monarch, how the two Houses of Parliament operate and the role of civil servants. The democratic system in the USA is outlined too, with the role of the President, Congress and the Supreme Court. A section on international politics introduces significant organisations including The United Nations and The European Union. Differing electoral systems and approaches to holding elections and voting are outlined. There is an interesting timeline highlighting when the vote was first given to women and people of all races throughout the world.
Current issues are addressed such as the difference between immigrants and refugees. Terrorism is discussed and what radicalisation, fundamentalism and white supremacism means. We find out about key ideas and political ideologies such as capitalism and socialism. Readers can begin to explore where they stand on some of the main differences between these viewpoints. Big questions to provoke discussion are raised, such as can war ever be justified and what is prison for?
We find out about how change happens in politics, including the history of protest. There is a call to action with readers encouraged to become informed by reading widely (and beyond the ‘shouty’ headlines) and to get involved through lobbying, joining an organisation, debating ideas. There is helpful guidance on how to argue a point without losing your temper.
The book design and layout is varied and attractive with key facts introduced on each page and then illustrated and explained with examples and comic strip style images. The Usborne Quicklinks online resource provides lots more related information and material, you can take a virtual tour of the Houses of Parliament for example.
This is a very useful book which will give children greater insight into politics and how decisions are made. It will hopefully encourage children to ask questions and may encourage some to become actively involved in politics in the future as well.