Children’s books by prominent politicians affiliated with the Democratic party are nothing new. After all, in 2006, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) wrote My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C., a picture book illustrated by David Small (Scholastic). More recently, in 2017, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) wrote a picture book edition of her bestselling 1996 memoir, It Takes a Village, illustrated by Marla Frazee (S&S/Wiseman); that same year, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote the Bernie Sanders Guide to Revolution (Holt).
Even a U.S. President has jumped on the publishing-books-for-children bandwagon: in 2010, Barack Obama wrote Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, illustrated by Loren Long (Knopf).
This fall and into 2019, two sitting U.S. senators—both of whom are Democrats, and whose names have been bandied about as possible presidential contenders in 2020—have written children’s books. While one senator’s book has already been released, the other senator’s first children’s book will drop after the holidays; her second children’s book will be released later on in 2019.
Last month, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote Bold & Brave, illustrated by Maira Kalman (Knopf), a picture book examining 10 suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote (the 19th Amendment, giving women this right, was passed in 1920). According to a statement provided to PW by her publisher, Gillibrand was inspired to write the book because her great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother all were “bold and brave” and taught her to “stand up and fight” for what she believes in and values.
“But who inspired them?” Gillibrand asks in her author’s statement, “The long chain of women before them who spoke out for what’s right—women who taught each generation that followed how to be bold and brave.” The suffragists profiled in Bold & Brave are Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jovita Idár, Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary Church Terrell.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) isn’t publishing just one book in 2019: she is publishing three, beginning with a picture book memoir, Superheroes Are Everywhere, illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe (Philomel, Jan.). The book will be published concurrently with Senator Harris’s memoir for adults, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Penguin Press). Penguin Young Readers will release a middle grade adaptation of The Truths We Hold later in 2019.
In Superheroes Are Everywhere, Harris emphasizes that anyone can be a hero to the people in their lives and can do their bit to make the world a better place. In both editions of The Truths We Hold, Harris shares stories of the family, friends, and public figures who have inspired her, from her childhood in Oakland, Calif., until the present day.
In a release sent to the media by the publisher, Senator Harris stated that she wrote Superheroes Are Everywhere and the young readers’ edition of The Truths We Hold because “I have such hope for the future of our country and the generation of children who will grow to inherit it. I’m so happy to share my story with them in the hope that it will empower young people to become caring, thoughtful, passionate citizens who want to make a positive impact on the world.”
While Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)—another Democrat whose name has also popped up in speculation about 2020 presidential candidates—did not write a book, she wrote the foreword for Nevertheless, We Persisted, edited by In This Together Media (Knopf, Sept.). In this collection of 48 essays, prominent figures in various fields—actors, activists, athletes, musicians, and writers—recount an incident in their youth when someone tried to hold them back because of their race, gender, or sexual identity—but, nevertheless, they, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, persisted. (The title comes from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s words following his silencing of Senator Warren on the Senate floor during the 2017 confirmation hearings for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.)
In her foreword, Klobuchar discusses what it’s like to be a woman in the U.S. Senate, disclosing that while there have been 2,000 men in the Senate since our nation’s founding, only 50 women have served there to date. “The women of the Senate have all beaten the odds,” Klobuchar writes. “They’re all determined to get things done for the American people. And I’d add that not one of them is afraid to take chances, and—even more importantly—none is afraid to fail.” Because, Klobuchar insists, “failure is a big part of persisting.” After all, just as so many people who have stood up for what they believe have done, Klobuchar concludes, the only real way to make a difference is to “keep working, keep fighting, and keep persisting.”