Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Art of the Possible: An Everyday Guide to Politics

Keenan, Edward (Author)
McLaughlin, Julie (Illustrator)
Owlkids 2015. 64 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9781771470681 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 320
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

conflict, dialogue, layout, multigenre, multimodal

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This primer on politics, for those not yet old enough to vote, rests on the precept that we are all politicians, though we may “hardly ever wear a suit.” Although not everyone pursues politics professionally, political involvement is socially inevitable; politics, at its most basic, is “how people get along.” The book’s introduction presents young people who have effected significant change in the world, while subsequent chapters offer an overview of the different levels of government and of three political systems (democracy, autocracy and constitutional monarchy); analyze “Policy vs. Process”; allude to the impact citizens can have, including through revolution and “active citizenship”; unpack political rhetoric and the usefulness of conflict; discuss party politics and the pitfalls of democracy; and emphasize the powerful importance of knowledge.

Dense and detailed text manages to make politics accessible to youth, in part through the use of the coloured drawings, which occasionally verge comically on caricature. Other illustrations allegorize some of the concepts presented or highlight political vocabulary. The explanations rely on briefly outlined (predominantly American) historic events or case studies, on wider-ranging legal, political and moral issues such as abortion or gay marriage, and on illustrative micro-conflicts, such as off-leash areas or neighbourhood nuisances. The explanations themselves are straightforward, but the book is not without nuance—one particularly thoughtful chapter is entitled “Avoiding the tyranny of the majority.”

The book concludes with a glossary, a list of sources and an index.

  •  

    Discuss the meaning of politics. Who can be a politician? Where do we encounter politics in our daily lives?

  •  

    Be a political observer and take notes on conflicts around you. What is at stake? How is a solution found? Write a concluding statement regarding what this tells you about politics and society.

  •  

    Brainstorm issues of interest: Is homework useful? Should girls and boys play together on professional sports teams? Should candy be banned from schools? Set up debating teams. During each debate, observers should report on how arguments are presented and whether they are effective.

  •  

    Hold class elections. Those who present arguments need consider what type of rhetoric to use: authority, emotion, logic or a combination of these.

  •  

    With a partner, write down as many reasons as you can for why teenagers should get involved in politics. Compare answers with another pair. In this new group of four, discuss how teens can get involved in politics, even though they are not of legal voting age.

  •  

    As you read, note any questions you have. Try to find answers in the text that follows and refer to the resources at the end if necessary.

  •  

    Select one of the case studies and do further research on it. Present your findings to the class in the form of a digital presentation.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Career Development
  • Geography, History and Citizenship