A History of Voting Rights

By Tamra Orr

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The early settlers to this land left their old countries in search for freedom. They wanted a place where they could live as they pleased and make their own decisions. The author, Tamra Orr, makes a very profound point in the first chapter of the book “The right to vote is the right to have a voice in all kinds of decisions, big and small, local and national.”

Oftentimes voting becomes such a mechanical activity that we do not think that the vote is a privilege: a voice in making our own decisions. The book traces the history of voting rights, and shows how this privilege was first granted to a very small minority, then expanded over time to be more and more inclusive. Today we may think that every citizen has a right to vote. Not so, says Orr. Former and current felons, and recent immigrants do not have the right to vote.Whether they should be given the right or not is much debated and discussed. It is an issue that has not been fully resolved yet. But, says Orr, when you know how much hard work went into getting the vote to almost everyone, you should use your voice wisely and cast a vote.The book traces the history of the vote, in language that is easy to comprehend. It is simply laid out in five chapters, each one expanding upon a different idea:

  1. Early Voting Rights
  2. Blacks and Citizenship Rights
  3. Blacks and the Right to Vote
  4. Women and the Right to Vote
  5. Current Voting Issues

If a teacher feels that such in-depth reading is slightly higher than third grade level, it is still a great read aloud. The teacher can read sections of the book, and use that as a launching point for discussion. The book shows that the history of voting rights is also the story of the creation of this nation in all its diversity and inclusiveness. Third grade readers would benefit by knowing the story.

The back matter contains a timeline that could well be enlarged and put up in the classroom as a wall chart. For readers pursuing the matter further the chapter notes and bibliography provide much reading matter.

Additional Resources:

Voting History. Interesting section on the power of just one vote:  http://www.usfca.edu/fac-staff/hancock/pol204/history.htm

President For A day:  http://pbskids.org/democracy/be-president/

Congress for Kids:  http://www.congressforkids.net/index.htm

  • Voting RightsTitle: A History of Voting Rights
  • Author: Tamra Orr
  • Publisher: Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc.
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Hardback:  48 pages
  • ISBN: 9781612282626
  • Genre: Nonfiction/Government

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