Votes of Confidence: A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections
(Zest Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)
About the Book:
Every four years, coverage of the presidential election turns more into a horse-race story about who’s leading the polls and who said what when. Younger readers, who might be old enough to remember only one or two other elections, aren’t provided with much information about how the election process actually works, why it matters, or how they can become involved. With civics education becoming less common in schools, it’s important for teens to know what’s going on. With the 2016 election promising to be an interesting and hotly contested one, Votes of Confidence will be a timely resource that can generate news coverage, while written in an evergreen way that can remain relevant after the next president is chosen. Using a fun, casual voice and interesting sidebars and anecdotes that tell stories rather than just list facts, this book will provide teachers with a supplemental resource and readers with an engaging way to better understand their government.
Praise for Votes of Confidence:
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review): “In a particularly winning voice, abetted by numerous intriguing anecdotes and trivia, Fleischer commences at the beginning, with an origin story (Revolution, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, Bill of Rights), before moving on to mechanics. He issues an implicit challenge with his introduction—“If there’s one thing we know for sure about American government, it’s that a lot of Americans don’t know much about it”—and then goes on to make sure readers buck that trend.”
Foreword Reviews (Five-Star Review):”Even as a kid, Jeff Fleischer recalls, he was a politics nerd. Now a Chicago journalist with history books about iconic revolutionaries and instances of mass hysteria under his belt, he’s issued a timely primer on the American electoral process, Votes of Confidence. Many adults are poorly informed about the political system, he notes; only 62 percent would likely pass the US citizenship test. This book would be a perfect refresher course, then, but should also be required reading for sixteen- to eighteen-year-olds as they prepare to vote for the first time. Fleischer covers a huge amount of information, but in such an orderly and lucid manner that it never feels overwhelming.”
Publishers Weekly: “This timely handbook offers a thorough, accessible overview of American elections and voting in six chapters that explore the history and workings of the government, the voting process, political parties, becoming informed about relevant political issues, how elections works, and political engagement…Fleischer’s well-contextualized, nonpartisan approach results in a valuable resource for readers looking to understand and become involved in a complicated system while avoiding spin.”
Infodad: “Timely it certainly is, but Jeff Fleischer’s Votes of Confidence is more than that: it is a first-rate introduction to American elections in the hyper-communicative digital age, designed for readers young enough to remember only one or two presidential election cycles but – for that very reason – extremely useful as well for their parents and for other “old hands” at elections who are trying to figure out what all of today’s currents and countercurrents mean.”
Books for Kids: “There’s a lot there to take in, enough to make this readable book an excellent textbook for a high school or even college course. With clarity, succinctness, and a bit of ironic wit, this book is a definite first choice for high school and public libraries, for young people approaching voting age and for adults (e.g., those who can’t name the three branches of federal government and the balance of powers that it provides to keep us going) to read almost everything you need to know before you vote!”
VOYA: “Fleischer has crafted well-written and concise chapters that go over the history of the American government, how the voting process works, the various political parties, how to make an informed vote, and how to get involved beyond just showing up at the polls. Students and patrons of all ages will benefit from the information found in this book. Fleischer provides detailed and comprehensive information for each chapter topic. The main body of the chapter provides general information, hitting on the important details, and then there are multiple sidebars in each chapter that highlight specific facts and real-life examples of concepts that are being discussed.”
Dew on the Kudzu: “Thankfully, just in time for what is already an extremely dynamic presidential election, author Jeff Fleischer has boldly taken up the challenge of political education in VOTES OF CONFIDENCE. Packed with accessible information as well as entertaining anecdotes, this book will be invaluable to people learning about the voting process for the first time, and it might have something to offer to those of us who could use a refresher course as well.”
Where to Buy:
Library binding edition on Amazon
Audiobook edition on Amazon (MP3 or CD)
Barnes & Noble
Library binding edition at Barnes & Noble
Audiobook edition at Barnes & Noble (MP3 or CD)
Hatchette for the trade
Baker and Taylor for the trade
Grand River Bookstore
Junior Library Guild
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt store
Fishpond for readers in Australia
Booktopia for Australian readers
Mighty Ape for readers in New Zealand
Interviews and Articles about the Book:
The Book Cellar in Chicago’s Lincoln Square held a kickoff for the book on March 21, with a presentation and Q&A.
Signature Reads asked me to write an article about things to know or watch in the 2016 election cycle.
Newcity named the Votes of Confidence launch its #2 literary event for the May 16-30 issue.
LitPick, which interviewed me for its Six Minutes with an Author interview series after my last book, added an Extra Credit interview for the new one.
Entertainment Fuse quoted me for some election expertise during the new season of “House of Cards.”
This Huffington Post article on how to talk to kids about the election cites the book as a resource and as source material.
Medill Magazine included the book in its roundup of alumnni books for Fall 2016.