Election, Part III

Oval Office
White House
The White House Occupants

After the long, arduous campaign process leading to the White House, the newly elected President of the United States of America and his (or, someday, her) family moves into the Presidential Quarters of America’s most famous residence. The site was chosen by George Washington and the corner stone was laid in 1792. Eight years later, the White House, designed by James Hoban, was completed. Since 1800 with President John Adams and his wife Abigail as the first official occupants of the White House, there has been a succession of interesting inhabitants in the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave mansion.

As The White House aged and demands for space grew, several presidents made renovations and additions to the structure. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt oversaw a renovation and made some significant changes, including moving his office from the Second Floor to what is now known as The West Wing. President William Taft had the Oval Office constructed in an enlarged office wing. During the Truman administration, major renovations were needed due to structural deterioration. Except for the exterior walls, the entire house was gutted and restored. Through the intervening years, The White House has been modified and remodeled to suit the needs of various changes in governmental procedures and to reflect the tastes of different residents.

More excellent information can be found at the official website of The White House.

The following facts are from the website:

White House Trivia

  • There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.
  • At various times in history, the White House has been known as the “President’s Palace,” the “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion.” President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.
  • Presidential Firsts while in office… President James Polk (1845-49) was the first President to have his photograph taken… President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) was not only the first President to ride in an automobile, but also the first President to travel outside the country when he visited Panama… President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-45) was the first President to ride in an airplane.
  • The White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d’oeuvres to more than 1,000.
  • The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.

Some of The White House residents have been the pets of the Presidential Families. It is hard to imagine an alligator lounging in the halls or a flock of sheep grazing on the lawn; but those are only a couple of example of some of the creatures that have taken up residence at the home of America’s First Family. The families (and their pets) need to be taken care of as the go about their duties, so there are many people who work at The White House. Their behind-the-scenes efforts support all of the events that are held there, as well as all of the things that are needed to keep a real family well fed and comfortable.

The following books highlight the history (and antics) of many who have occupied The White House. Of course, many other titles may be found in the database.



Contributor: Sheilah Egan, Literature Consultant


First Family
Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by AG Ford

The Obama family is shown on Inauguration Day, moving into the White House, and in their daily lives. On moving day, the staff planned a scavenger hunt, “to help Malia and Sasha learn their way around the 132 rooms of the grand historic mansion.” Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, also moved in to help with her grandchildren. She often accompanies them as they are driven to school by a Secret Service agent. Malia and Sasha have chores and make their own beds. Although very busy, the president and First Lady are not too busy to exercise. The girls were happy when their dog Bo arrived. The President works at a special desk made from a British ship. Michelle Obama has her own office on the other side of the White House. The family likes to eat together and share their day. At the back are facts and trivia about the White House and families who have lived there. The colored illustrations look like the family that we see in photographs. This is a nice introduction for children to what life in the White House is like for the Obamas. 2010, HarperCollins Children’s Books/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 6 to 9, $17.99. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780061896804

First Kids: The True Stories of All the Presidents’ Children
Noah McCullough

The author is a fourteen-year old boy who states that he will be president in 2032. Noah has been interested in American history and the political process since he was in kindergarten. The content includes the experiences of the president’s children living in the White House. Not all presidents and their families lived in the White House. George and Martha Washington never lived there. John and Abigail Adams and their children were the first to live in the White House. For each presidential family there is a list of “Fast Facts.” It covers what they liked, disliked, what they did, doll collections they had, and the tragedies that befell them. One of the first kids convinced a friend to hoist her up so she could touch the chandelier in the State Dining Room. When she grabbed it he left her hanging there and screaming. There is also information on First Kids who married in the White House, those that worked for their dad in the White House, their birthplaces, and facts about the White House and the Inauguration. It is a great deal of trivial information; but it does let us know that the presidents and their families have normal occurrences in their lives just as we do. 2009, Scholastic, Ages 11 to 14, $7.00. Reviewer: Leila Toledo (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780545175388

The First Pup: The Real Story of How Bo Got to the White House
Bob Staake

This is the true story of how a very special pup came to live in the most famous house in America. Not too long ago, a man by the name of Barack Obama ran for president of the United States and won! He had a lot to share with the American public on the night of his victory and an even bigger announcement for his two daughters, Sasha and Malia. Once his family moved into the White House, the girls would receive a new puppy. Oh, how to choose? There were poodles and schnauzers and terriers and beagles, and spaniels and collies and retrievers and Labradors. During this decision making process, a sweet little pup had been born on a farm in Texas. Thanks to a very special senator, this chosen pup made his way to our nation’s capital and found a home on Pennsylvania Avenue. This sweet story is a treasure for parents, teachers and readers. It is a fine example of nonfiction and contains a very pertinent history lesson. Staake’s illustrations were created by using both traditional and digital means and are sure to evoke smiles from all who partake. 2010, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, Ages 4 to 8, $16.99. Reviewer: Summer Whiting (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780312613464

Having Fun at the White House
Marge Kennedy

This title explores the many ways Presidents and their families have been entertained at the White House. With pictures and easy text, the reader is shown activities both inside and outside including bowling with President Nixon and riding ponies with Caroline Kennedy. The book also shows activities the White House sponsors for children from across the United States. It has age-appropriate vocabulary. This is an interesting book that my first graders enjoyed. It will make a good addition to a classroom library. 2009, Children’s Press, Ages 6 to 8, $20.00. Reviewer: Wilma Lee (The Lorgnette – Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 22, No. 2)).

ISBN: 9780531210956

Having Fun at the White House
Marge Kennedy

This title explores the many ways Presidents and their families have been entertained at the White House. With pictures and easy text, the reader is shown activities both inside and outside including bowling with President Nixon and riding ponies with Caroline Kennedy. The book also shows activities the White House sponsors for children from across the United States. It has age-appropriate vocabulary. This is an interesting book that my first graders enjoyed. It will make a good addition to a classroom library. 2009, Children’s Press, Ages 6 to 8, $20.00. Reviewer: Wilma Lee (The Lorgnette–Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 22, No. 2)).

ISBN: 9780531210956

If I Were the President
Thomas Kingsley Troupe
Illustrated by Heather Heyworth

What do you want to be when you grow up?” This series for younger readers urges them to “Dream Big!” when answering that frequently asked question. Four glamorous careers are chosen for consideration, focusing mainly on the fun parts, while leaving the more sober details for an afterword. Well, why not? Kids will enjoy romping through an exciting array of experiences, in this volume imagining themselves as President of the United States. (Adults can chuckle at this one, too, as they watch a serious but confident boy president who just happens to be skinny, long-legged, and have ears that stick out.) Enjoying every moment, the President surveys a lavish breakfast at the White House, splashes with his dog in the presidential fountain (wearing his impeccable black suit), signs bills at his Oval Office desk, and rides in Cadillac One accompanied by his towering Secret Service agents in shades. One of the best spreads shows the tuxedoed president entertaining celebrities at dinner in the White House, where they would “eat the most delicious food”–as he nonchalantly twirls spaghetti on his fork. Of course such a charming and self-possessed statesman would love his “very important job as the president of the United States.” Dream big! Each colorful oversized volume includes a “How do you get to be . . .” page, a helpful glossary, and a list of several related books. 2010, Picture Window/Capstone, Ages 5 to 8, $25.32. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781404857124

Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt!
Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
Leslie Kimmelman
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Alice entertains readers throughout her story, doing such things as swimming, playing with amphibians, and many other activities that a proper girl of her time should not be allowed to do! This entertaining story tells of the rambunctious exploits of Alice Roosevelt and offers a history lesson about her father, President Theodore Roosevelt. It offers a great way to learn about the family of an American President. The book is also visually effective, with its speech bubbles and beautiful artistry. The illustrator chooses a muted pallet for the story, but given the historical setting, it works quite well. Throughout the book, Alice wears sly, mischievous expression that will entertain readers and make them wonder what she is up to. 2009, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95. Valerie Wiltberger (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781561454921

New Girl in Town
Julia DeVillers
Illustrated by Paige Pooler

When we last saw Liberty Porter she had just moved into the White House; now, in book two, Liberty has to start at a new school–in the middle of the year! Nervous and excited Liberty gets ready for her second First Day of School in one year. Many of her family’s traditions have a slight twist this time around, like having the official White House photographer take her picture as she heads off to school; though some, like her dad making pancakes, stay the same. New Girl in Town covers the first two days Liberty is at her new school. It is not always easy for Liberty but her humor and determination help her settle in to her new school and new town. As First Daughter Liberty realizes there are lots of perks–chocolate shop, bowling alley, long hallways to slide down–but also many burdens, including getting all of her classmates to treat her normally. This takes some work but Liberty always stays true to herself and does not let pushy students influence her. As in the first book, Liberty knows a lot of American history and always loves to learn more. This makes for a winning combination and even though Liberty Porter is an extraordinary girl she remains relatable and is sure to appeal to young girls. It is not necessary to have read book one to understand book two. 2010, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Ages 8 to 12, $15.99. Reviewer: Emily Griffin (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781416991281

Presidential Pets
Laura Driscoll
Illustrated by Christian Slade

The amount of media time devoted to the choosing of the Obamas’ new dog has shown how easily we are captivated by this human side of our presidents. This book brings that aspect of the home life in the White House to young readers and shows the fascination people have always had with the pets in the White House. While many First Families have had dogs, several have had extraordinary pets, including an alligator, a zebra, a hippo, raccoons, and elephants. The text is consistently organized by type of pet and population of the household zoo, making it easy to read and of high interest for readers who enjoy animals. The attractive layout includes both photographs and illustrations. Chapters focus on brief, entertaining stories, ensuring attention will not be easily lost. The mention of presidents throughout history and the varying reasons for the pets chosen includes touches of history that may inspire readers to learn more. The main focus, however, is on the recent presidents readers will be most familiar with. 2009, Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Group Inc, Ages 6 to 8, $4.99. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780448452500

The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents
Susan Katz
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker

Susan Katz has turned amusing facts about American Presidents into rhyme. She begins with the fact that George Washington never slept in the White House–although he designed it, the building was not finished until John Adam’s term. As for John Adams, we learn he was called “His Rotundity” instead of the title of His Majesty which he advocated should be used for the President. Most of the Presidents through Woodrow Wilson are included-he is the one who kept sheep on the White House Lawn as part of the WWI home front efforts. The title of each poem fits the topic and is followed by the president’s name and their dates as president; each verse is followed by a short factual note. Neubecker’s good humored illustrations complement the light hearted tone of the text. All in all, middle schoolers introduced to this book are likely to decide history isn’t all dry as dust. 2011, Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12, $17.99. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780547182216

Sasha & Malia Obama
Sarah Tieck

This title is part of the “Big Buddy” series, which introduces kids to well known children and adults. Sharp, vivid photographs that highlight the text are a great addition to the book. In clear, easily understood language, the lives of the girls are covered from their births in Chicago to how they now spend their days at school and in their new home. Under the heading, “Did you know�” additional facts are part of each two- page spread. Readers will learn that the girls began making their own beds as soon as they were four; Malia plays soccer; Sasha enjoys gymnastics; and a scavenger hunt was organized on inauguration night so they could learn the history of the White House. There is also a section on other children who lived in the White House. Girls and boys will certainly want to read this book and learn more about Sasha and Malia. Purchase is recommended. 2010, ABDO Publishing Company, Ages 9 to 12, $27.07. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781604537109

Time to Eat at the White House
Susan Katz
Marge Kennedy

Fascinating facts and full-color photos bring early readers right inside the most famous house in the United States!” This title explains that the President has five kitchens and five chefs, including a pastry chef who works at the White House. It also lists some of the former Presidents’ favorite foods as well as foods they did not like. My first graders enjoyed this interesting book. This will be a good addition to an elementary library. 2009, Children’s Press, Ages 6 to 8, $20.00. Reviewer: Wilma Lee (The Lorgnette – Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 22, No. 2)).

ISBN: 9780531210987

Unleashed: The Lives of White House Pets
Adapted by Ronald Kidd from the play by Allyson Currin
Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

Alistair’s father has just been elected President of the United States and she and her trusty Chihuahua, Tipp, are moving into the White House. Life seems pretty good until a member of the White House staff suggests that Tipp is not very presidential looking and should possibly be replaced. Fearful of Tipp’s fate, the two friends are desperate to find a way to stay together. They discover a machine that will allow them to travel back in time to a place where they can both be safe until this nonsense blows over. But in their excitement, Tipp hits the wrong button and the duo ends up on a very interesting adventure. Travelling back in history, they discover that the White House has been home to many four-legged friends of all shapes and sizes. Included are Abe Lincoln’s goats, William Taft’s cow, and even John Quincy Adam’s alligator to name a few. Alistair is convinced Tipp will fit right in with the unique history of White House pets. Now she just has to find the right button to return home. This book is a quick and easy read. Some historical information is provided, but the book will mostly acquaint readers with the various creatures who have called the White House their home. This book is based on a play produced by the Kennedy Center and the White House Historical Association and part of the “The Kennedy Center Presents Capital Kids” series. 2011, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Ages 7 to 10, $5.99. Reviewer: Heather Kinard (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781416948629

White House Kids: The Perks, Pleasures, Problems, and Pratfalls of the Presidents’ Children
Joe Rhatigan
Illustrated by Jaemyung Shin

The author introduces young readers to the presidential families. Readers view the White House through the eyes of the seventy children and grandchildren of the respective presidents. The material covers the perks, pleasures, problems, and pratfalls of the Presidents’ children from George Washington to Barack Obama. The Contents page defines the scope of the materials in the four chapters. These chapters address: the First White House Kids, In the Spotlight, The Best Playground Available, and The Perks, and Problems. An introductory section explains “Your New Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500,” and what is involved living there. Graphics, pastel-like artwork, and photographs enhance the text throughout the book. Sidebars with some of the photographs and graphics provide relevant information. Appendices include sections on “And Then What Happened?” and “The Presidents and First Ladies.” The Bibliography gives additional resources for further research. An Index provides easy navigation through the text. 2012, Imagine!, Ages 9 to 12, $14.95. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781936140800

Who Works at the White House?
Marge Kennedy

This title identifies many workers at the White House–from advisers to the President to the gardeners. The White House is a very busy place! My first grade class enjoyed listening to this book. This will be a valuable addition to a school library. 2009, Children’s Press, Ages 6 to 8, $20.00. Reviewer: Wilma Lee (The Lorgnette – Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 22, No. 2)).

ISBN: 0531210995

Updated 10/1/12

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