NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- While parents in the community got to cast ballots in the mid-term election this week, the students at the Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center also exercised their right to vote. The students may not be able to help choose a senator or governor just yet, but they did get to pick their favorites from among Curious George, Amelia Bedelia, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and more.
To show them the importance of Election Day, the school asked all students to cast ballots by dropping slips of paper into boxes representing 15 classic picture books, all of which are represented in a colorful mural in the school's library. The boxes and books lined the display case near the school's entrance.
"We get to decide which book we like the most," said second-grader Fatima Ruiz-Diaz. (She chose "The Cat in the Hat" because "it has a lot of funny stuff.")
Classmate Carmine Capizzano chose "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"
"I like bears, and Brown Bear's cool," he said.
The young voters were told it's OK if a friend or school mate has a favorite that's different from yours.
The students even received "I voted" stickers to wear proudly.
Teacher facilitator Ilene Silverman created the activity with library clerk Jeanne Jacobsen and educational technology specialist Katie Scherhaufer. Security guard Jerome Planter helped Silverman build the display.
Today, second graders counted the votes - almost 500 of them - and determined that the top three favorite books were: in first place, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?" by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle; in second place, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle; and in third place, "Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina.
It was great practice for that time years from now when they reach voting age. The students know that, when that time comes, casting a ballot can have an impact beyond favoring one book over another.
As student Andres Villanueva said, "You can change your community."