Quaker Students’ Reading List for President Trump

Many of the students who participated in this year’s project responded to the following prompt idea in their letters: “Recommend a book that you think the president should read and explain why.” Once all of the recommendations were compiled into one list, we couldn’t help but see the result as a sort of suggested reading assignment for the president from these younger constituents-in-training—much like the summer reading lists students often receive from their teachers before school lets out. With summer around the corner, we’re pleased to share this reading list featuring 24 books recommended by Quaker-affiliated students in the United States. Happy reading, Mr. President!

Free? Stories about Human Rights edited by Amnesty International (2010)

  • “Every story represents a human right from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As president of the United States, one of your jobs is to protect the rights of others. Even though we have these human rights, many people around the world are still denied some of these rights. Some others take human rights for granted. I hope you consider reading Free? and thinking about how human rights matter to everyone.” —Nora Krantz, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School
  • “This book is important in these times when plenty of people aren’t being treated fairly. These facts and stories are very important to know as president, and they will help you to understand people’s problems all around the world.” —Catie Allen, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School
  • “The stories really stuck with me; some were sad, but they each had a meaningful lesson. No matter your race, nationality, religion, or age, you should read this book. We all have to learn how to be accepting, and how to appreciate differences and similarities.” —Sydney Mann, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

  • “I would suggest that you read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In it, a black man is put on trial for a crime he never committed, and is found guilty, simply for the color of his skin. In the end, he ends up dead, when he was always completely innocent in the first place. The book takes place in the late 1930s, and we tend to think that we’ve moved past these times, that nothing like that could ever happen now. There is still injustice in this world. While the characters in the book are fictional, the subject is very, very real. . . .” —SVP honoree Gillian Murray, Grade 7, Leaves of Learning, member of Oxford (Ohio) Meeting. Read her full letter to President Trump.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Adichie (2014)

  • “This book is a personal favorite of mine, entitled We Should All Be Feminists. The book was written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an amazingly smart writer and feminist. I think you could learn several things from her writings that would prove helpful in the White House. First, feminism is a matter of principle. You will learn that respecting women is the right thing to do. As not just the president but a grown man, you must consider how your actions and words affect others. By calling women fat and talking about their bodies, you are shaming them, which is mean spirited and very inappropriate. This behavior is childish and far from acceptable. . . .” —SVP honoree Acadia Pesner, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School. Read her full letter to President Trump.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (2013)

  • “You should read this book because it lets you in on the life of a Muslim woman; it will help you see the daily struggles Muslim women face, and help you better understand the Muslim minority as well as women’s rights in the Middle East. I feel very strongly about women’s rights because I was born into a financially stable and educated family. I go to one of the best schools in the country and I feel that every girl should have the same opportunities and education as I do. Many girls don’t have that and have to spend their day at home working and doing chores because that is what their society expects of them. So many girls have so much potential and are so smart but never get the chance to pursue their dreams. As a twelve-year-old in a world where there is much happening around me, a fresh, new view on the situation offers an interesting perspective. I think I and others like me are the new generation and should have some sort of say or input on the current situation so that when it is our turn we know what we are heading into. Thank you for considering my view, and I do hope you find the time to read this letter and book I am suggesting.” —Evelyn Labson, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell (2013)

  • “This book is about people being treated unfairly. It would help the whole world if we all read it. We read this book in my class earlier this year, and it meant something to me. It puts you in someone else’s shoes. Everybody should be treated equally. March is about people trying to stand up so they can be treated equally.” —Henry Walsh, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School
  • “I think you should read this book because it is all about African American rights and it might change your perspective for the better about black people. March is mainly based in the past, but it applies to a lot of current day events. In 1972 all the people who believed in desegregation marched for black people’s rights. On the 21st of January, 2017, women marched for their rights just like all the believers in 1972. Legal rights are very important because we all are the same on the inside and we all need the law to see that, even if the rest of us already do. I believe in women’s rights, I also believe in African American rights. I think you will believe in African American rights and women’s rights too after you read March.” —Mia Palk, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

This Book Is Gay by James Dawson (2015)

  • “It is a book about accepting and welcoming LGBTQ+ members and supporters, no matter what. Not to offend you, President Trump, but I think that you especially need education in this area. As a country, we need to be united and accepting no matter what. Sticking together is the best way that we can survive.” —Macy Black, Grade 9, Westtown School

A Work in Progress by Connor Franta (2015)

  • “This book is about finding yourself and accepting who you are. It talks about a 16-year-old boy’s journey through his life with friends, family, and his sexuality. I think it would be eye opening for you to read and understand a gay male’s life growing up and finding out who he is.” —Katherine Komins, Grade 9, Westtown School

The Bible

  • “I recommend that you read the Bible because it is full of many scriptures that constantly say to love thy neighbor and respect one another. Given the things you said in your campaign, you clearly need some insight on love and respect. You should also do some research on William Penn, who was a Quaker who focused on love and equality; these might help to inspire you during your presidency.” —Genevieve Green, Grade 10, William Penn Charter School

Politics for Dummies by Ann DeLaney (2002)

  • “I would recommend Politics for Dummies. President Trump needs to actually know something about politics.” —Jackson Shumard, Grade 8, Frankford Friends School

Stronger Together by Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine (2016)

  • “This book was written by Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine so I would suggest to read this so you can understand Hillary Clinton’s perspective better, and see if you could apply some of her ideas to the United States.” —Noah Bay, Grade 6, Westtown School

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)

  • “You should read this book because it lets you feel the emotion of someone else. In the book, you see the main character (August) getting bullied which shows you how it feels to be degraded in such ways which I believe would help you explore how others feel.” —Ava Johnson, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School
  • “I think it’s a good book, and you should read it because it makes people feel empathetic, see things from everyone’s point of view, and learn to treat people like they want to be treated. It also teaches us how to be a good friend and stand up for others. These are good qualities for a president to have for many reasons. If you read this book, it might help you be a better president.” —Solveig Daniels, Grade 6, Westtown School

The Boys of Dunbar by Alejandro Danois (2016)

  • “This book takes place in the same place that the Freddie Gray incident happened in a black neighborhood in Baltimore, Md. You should read this book because having sustainable communities across the United States is important. All the police shootings and riots happen because the police cannot handle that specific unsustainable community.” —Jackson Keyser, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)

  • “I think you should read this book because it could possibly relate to events that could happen in the future in America. People in America can retaliate against you. They’ll retaliate because they don’t agree with your actions and they don’t like what you are doing to our country. This is similar to how citizens of Panem retaliated against President Snow’s actions in book 3, Mockingjay. In America, people are protesting against you because they believe that you have unfair policies and that your actions will harm America. People also believe that you will start conflicts with other countries who were once our friends.” —Mackenzie Tyson, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

  • “I have come to realize through reading this book that we need a strong leader and that we need a fire that will keep us under control. In Lord of the Flies deciding whether to let the fire burn or die out was the biggest conflict, just like the choice of a Democrat or Republican as the president has our nation split in half. I believe that a good community starts with a strong leader. I believe that you are currently the best person for this job, but I still need you to convince me that you can unify our country as a whole. I attend a Quaker school in Pennsylvania and I know that having a sense of a strong community is very powerful. Not feeling safe around people in my own community is unacceptable to me. Please read Lord of the Flies and learn from the protagonist, a boy named Jack who is a tremendous leader. I hope that you can grow from reading this book.” —Benjamin Grear, Grade 9, Westtown School

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (2010)

  • “Melody has cerebral palsy. Everyone at her school thinks she is not smart, but in reality she is exceptionally smart. People in the disabled community are just as smart as anyone else. After reading this book maybe you would enact policies to help the disabled community to fight injustices and inequality.” —Isabel Madauss, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School
  • “You have mocked a disabled reporter. This book is related because the main character has disabilities. She has cerebral palsy and can’t talk, but is extremely smart. This book shows you not to judge people by the way they look. Melody may look different or act different from the other kids, but she can’t control that. You have to take the time to get to know a person.” —Baani Singh, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School
  • “Stereotypes and categorizing people is something we all do even without meaning to, but your words can be offensive and mean to other people. You should never judge someone by their appearance because people are not always what you think they are.” —Nate Weinstock, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins (1994)

  • “You should read this book to widen your perspective about refugees and learn about what it’s like to move to a new country. This book is based on a true story which occurred during World War II. Moving to a new environment can involve changing your daily routine, but being forced to abandon your home and then fleeing the country to a safer, sustainable, and healthier life is very different. In the book a family is trying to leave a war zone and reunite after. Before reading this book I had not been educated about the journey of leaving a war zone. The Washington Post says that most refugees are ordinary people who unfortunately happen to live in unsafe environments or are in need of a job, healthcare, etc. Any country could face these common issues. My great-grandfather fled Ivory Coast by foot, through the forest to Ghana. He did this after facing death threats in his hometown. Years after, he returned to Ivory Coast as a husband and father of ten. Sticking together as a family, friends, nation, city, state, or world will improve our society and stop most of our issues.” —Ayorkor Laryea, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

Only the Names Remain by Alex W. Bealer (1996)

  • “It’s a nonfiction book about historical Cherokees and the Trail of Tears. I learned so many things that I didn’t realize happened leading up to and during the Trail of Tears.  I think you should read this book because you can see what previous presidents have done that caused a disaster. Andrew Jackson let his own greed and others’ greed get in the way of fair and right decisions and honoring treaties. Read it so you don’t repeat it.” —Meredith Jenkins, Grade 6, Homeschool, Live Oak Meeting attender

The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Inner Peace by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (2002)

  • “After reading the foreword, go to page 129 and think about what he has to say about short-term politics. I hope you will understand what he has to say. The entire book can be thought-provoking.” —Patrick O’Rourke, Grade 6, Westtown School

A Foreign Policy of Freedom by Ron Paul (2007)

  • “I recommend you read a book written by Dr. Ron Paul who ran for president most recently in 2012. In his book he talks about blowback and how having our military involved in foreign conflicts results in terrorism against Americans here and overseas.” —Zoe Malavolta, Grade 6, Westtown School

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (2011)

  • “I think you should read this book because it’s about a boy who lives in a small town, and he isn’t the richest boy either. He is a boy who doesn’t go to school but does help his neighbor in weird ways. I’m recommending this because poverty is a real problem in the world right now and I know you can help stop it.” —Zavion Allen, Grade 6, Westtown School

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (2016)

  • “It’s a story about a girl who attempts suicide and ends up in the hospital for a therapy session. There she meets people who have tried similar acts to hers. But, throughout the novel, we also learn that her rich father has made some rather unwise decisions. I think this would be a great book for you to read to let you know what it’s like to not have some of the compatible privileges that you may have grown up with.” —Grace Lavin, Grade 9, Friends Academy

White Fang by Jack London (1906)

  • “This is a thrilling book about loyalty, courage, and survival. White Fang, out of all the terribly bad treatments he had received, didn’t know what kindness was. Everyone should be born knowing kindness. They should know how it feels and how soothing it is.” —Kenji Ishi, Grade 6, Sidwell Friends School

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis (2007)

  • “You should read this book because even though he was homeless, people accepted his differences and treated him kindly. One thing I learned in school is to be fair and good to all people. All people should be treated fairly because no one deserves to be mistreated.” —Eliza Lee, Grade 6, Westtown School

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (1936)

  • “I think you should read this book because it is about respecting people’s differences. This book also shows an important lesson: stay true to yourself and don’t let people change you. Lastly, this book shows that people should be treated equally no matter how they look or sound.” —Grace Rhile, Grade 6, Westtown School

1 thought on “Quaker Students’ Reading List for President Trump

  1. I am so proud of these young people and their suggestions of books for President Trump to read. I think they have done a marvelous job not only by the books they recommended but also the comments and reasons for their choices. I am so impressed by their words and wish that the president would take these suggestions to heart.

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