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Planning for 2040: Engaging Kids in Political Process

Experts recommend not only talking to kids about the importance of voting, but also encourage them to consider running for office one day. (Theresa Thompson/Flickr)
Experts recommend not only talking to kids about the importance of voting, but also encourage them to consider running for office one day. (Theresa Thompson/Flickr)
October 31, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolinians of all political persuasions can be heard lamenting a lack of choices on the ballot in this election. So, how can we ensure that future elections will include a bevy of qualified candidates? Look at the youngest generation, says one North Carolina author.

Mary Swann Parry recently released her first children's book, "Sadie McGrady Runs for President," a fictional story of a young girl's pursuit of the White House. Parry said she wrote the book after she found a lack of resources for her young daughter.

"They start learning about the government as early as third grade and how it works," Parry said. "And I think it that would be terrific to have more of these conversations when they're little and when they're having these goals."

The author said she hopes her female character will inspire girls specifically, since women make up more than half of the populace but only 19 percent of Congress, 25 percent of state legislators and 12 percent of governors, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Parry said that in her experience, teaching young children they can run for office someday is enough to plant the seed for later in life.

"You're teaching them what foods to eat and to get enough exercise, and you're listening to them - what they might want to be when they grow up,” Parry said. "But we're not really, in all households, talking about civic engagement and how you not just make sure you're a voter and a regular voter when you grow up, but here are the different ways you can get engaged in the process."

Experts say parents should talk to their children about what's happening in this campaign season, and focus on how to discuss issues with their classmates and disagree respectfully. Having these conversations might also ease any fears they may have about the election outcome.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC