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Texas Kid Writes Book About Presidents



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Social Studies
    ----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

A 10-year-old author is recognized as an expert on presidential history.

News Words

Before sharing this week's news story with students, introduce these words: president, candidate, publish, source, trivia, double-check. Talk about the meaning of each word.

Anticipation Guide

Invite students to take another look at the News Words you introduced. Ask: Based on the News Words on the board, what do you think this week's news story will be about? Accept students' reasoned responses, including that the story might be about publishing a book, a president, an election, voting, the White House... You might ask students to identify the word(s) that led them to offer their responses.

Before reading, ask students to agree or disagree with each of the statements below. This will set a purpose for reading. As students read, they will confirm their assumptions or learn something new.

  • A 10-year-old boy is running for president of the United States.
  • Noah McCullough served as U.S. president for four years.
  • Since the United States was formed, 41 men have served as its president.
  • Authors must double-check all the facts they include in their books.

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story Texas Kid Writes Book About Presidents.

Reading the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.

  • Do you know which president could write Greek with one hand and Latin with the other at the same time? (James Garfield) Or which one kept alligators in the White House East Room bathtub? (John Quincy Adams) Those are just two of the interesting facts that Noah included in his book.
  • As a reporter for Scholastic News, the kids' newspaper, Noah covered the 2004 presidential election. He interviewed candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry.
  • Noah has appeared on the Today Show, and he has appeared five times on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
  • Noah played a round of Presidential Jeopardy with CNN's Larry King, NBC's Tim Russert, and former presidential candidate Howard Dean -- and he won! He wasn't surprised that he won. "In five years I've only been stumped twice," he told the Katy Sun.
  • Noah has even talked with past presidents in order to verify or learn more facts about them. "It was really cool when I met Jimmy Carter and told him interesting things about himself," Noah told Scholastic News. "He didn't even know most of the stuff I was telling him."
  • The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia is 250 pages long.
  • Noah's book is published by Random House. He is Random House's youngest published author. He hopes his book will get more kids and others interested in history.
  • Noah is also an outspoken supporter of JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Although Noah does not have diabetes, he passionately champions the fight for the cure in the hopes of one day putting an end to the disease that afflicts his two cousins and more than 3 million Americans. Noah gives a percentage of the sales of his book to JDRF and donates 100 percent of his appearance fees to support the cause.
  • Noah is a very distant relative of Richard Nixon, who was the 37th president of the United States.

Comprehension Check

Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the statements in it.

  • A 10-year-old boy is running for president of the United States. (false, he has just written a book about the presidents)
  • Noah McCullough served as U.S. president for four years. (false, he has never served as president, but he might run someday)
  • Since the United States was formed, 41 men have served as its president. (false, there have been 43 presidents)
  • Authors must double-check all the facts they include in their books. (true, they double- and triple-check their facts)

Recalling Detail
You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

  • What is the subject of the book recently published by Noah McCullough? (he wrote a book about the U.S. presidents)
  • What grade is Noah in at school? (fifth grade)
  • In how many sources did Noah have to find a fact before he included it in his book? (three sources)
  • How did Noah become interested in the presidents? (He first became interested when his kindergarten class held a pretend election; then Noah's parents bought him a book about the presidents.)
  • What does Noah want to be when he grows up? (president of the United States)
  • Can you name one president of the United States who was born in March? (James Madison, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, or Grover Cleveland)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students' news page.

You might ask some of these questions to spur additional thinking:

  • Why, do you think, did Noah want to find three sources for each fact in his book?
  • Would you want to be an author like Noah McCullough is? What do you think would be the best part of being an author? The worst part?
  • Why do you think Noah wants to become U.S. president in 2032?

Follow-Up Activities

History. How much do your students know about George Washington, the first president of the United States? Do they know that

  • Washington banned curse words from the army?
  • was 11 when his dad died?
  • suffered smallpox and lived through it?
  • would not shake hands because he thought this beneath the president? (He preferred bowing.) Challenge students to find additional facts about the first president. Then share with them this excerpt from the George Washington section of Noah McCullough's book, which includes many interesting bits of trivia.

Health and nutrition. Which presidents had favorite foods that were nutritious? Students might learn some nutrition facts from taking Noah McCullough's Presidents' Favorite Foods Quiz.

Math. Have students work in small groups to use library or Internet resources to identify the month in which each of America's 42 presidents were born.

Note: There have been 43 presidents, but only 42 men have served. That's because Grover Cleveland served as president in two non-consecutive terms. He was our 22nd president (1885-89) and 24th president (1893-97).

Then have them create a graph -- on paper, or by using the free and easy-to-use Create a Graph tool -- to illustrate how many presidents were born in each month. Students' graphs should break down in this way: January (4), February (4), March (4), April (4), May (2), June (1), July (4), August (4), September (1), October (6), November (5), and December (3). When students have finished their graphs, challenge them to use them to answer grade-appropriate questions such as these:

  • How many presidents were born in August? (four)
  • In what month were the most presidents born? (October)
  • Were more presidents born in November or December? (November) How many more presidents were born in November than in December? (two more presidents were born in November than in December)
  • In which two months was only one president born? (June and September)


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section above.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NSS-C.K-4.1 What Is Government?
NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.9-12.2 Foundations of the Political System
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1-10 All Eras

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Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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