Monday, January 19, 2009

Gather Round Kids, We're About to Get Ourselves a New President: Relevant Inauguration

Welcome to your Inauguration run-up edition. The day is upon us when we witness one of the most inspiring things about the United States of America- a peaceful transition of power and a willingness to acknowledge our past and work for a better future. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, agree upon the remarkable and yes, exceptional, nature of this evolving experiment. Get ready, get set and let's get the party started:

The inauguration festivities have been criticized for being un-friendly to kids and families due to the restrictions:

"Officials are banning all strollers and backpacks and make a point of saying on their Web site that "there are no childcare facilities provided to attendees." If that hint isn't enough, they suggest that "extra consideration" be taken by those planning to bring children, noting that "a vast majority of attendees will be in standing room sections and should be prepared to be on their feet for several hours."

They also helpfully point out that the swearing-in ceremony is an outdoor event "that is typically cold -- normally 37 F at noon -- and occasionally wet."

In other words: Leave the kiddies at home."

Well, this edition is decidedly kid focused. As parents I think it just adds to the excitement of times like this when we can share them with our kids, even if they just end up falling asleep on our shoulders like the adorable little girl who snoozed directly behind the Obamas despite the history happening around her at the concert on Sunday. Somehow they will soak it in, even if they just understand the undercurrent of emotion that runs through their parents and seeps into their little bodies.

  • As I write this I am listening to the Disney Kids Inauguration concert. If you missed it, here it is again. We definitely are a country of free choice, because frankly I don't get the Miley thing, but the kids certainly love her. But, I'll refrain from speaking too much, I had pictures of Wham! when I was their age.  So bring on the Jonas Bros.
  • Here's a quick primer about sharing the inauguration of Obama with your kids and the themes that run through his journey to this moment.
  • A great feature on the Scholastic site is "If I Were President." The interactive feature allows the kids to make decisions, and at the end a newspaper article is generated to summarize their actions.
  • A remarkable move by the Obama transition team was to provide a portal for the nation to participate in the dialogue of what needs fixing and how to do it. Not to be left out, PBS Kids has a portal for kids to do something very similar, contributing ideas and voting on those of others.
  • A really interesting way to follow the inauguration through the eyes of young people is the SHS Inauguration Project where student journalists will stream back their reports of the inauguration.
  • Also Nickelodean will interrupt their regular programming to bring news and perspectives from kids. In addition there are some other ideas for making the inauguration come alive for the kids here
  • If you don't know about Ron Clark, he is a remarkable educator who wrote the book The Essential 55. He has built a school in Atlanta, and his students got quite a surprise when they performed their rap "Dear Obama."

  • Another way to follow and participate in the activities is to visit
Here are some relevant and interesting tidbits for the adults as well:
  • Take this Inaugural Quiz. I warn you it's hard, but interesting and different. It doesn't take long. I only got two out of ten, correctly identifying Clinton and Lincoln.
  • While we are at it, here is also a President's Day Quiz as well.
  • Much has been made of the parallels between Lincoln and Obama, and Obama clearly looks back to this particular president for guidance and inspiration. Noted Scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., however offers a view on the these two presidents that questions just how closely they align. An interesting read.
  • I always feel for Colin Powell, a really inspiring man, who kind of just seemed to take a wrong turn, and the public has been very unforgiving. He wrote a moving editorial that I think is worthy of attention on this occasion.
  • Wonder about where the oath of office comes from? Check out this NPR background.
  • Fan of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire?" Here is a political columnists attempt at a revision.
  • I love the creative energy that arises from times such as these. Here is an interesting poem by the Wales' National Poet Gillian Clark.
  • Speaking of literary inspiration, Barack Obama is said to be a man of the books. Sidenote: this article was written by Michiko Kakutani, the notoriously tough and difficult to please NY Times book critic, which just goes to show you that book geeks swoon for a man who really reads.
  • And finally, I don't really do the celebrity thing, but this birds eye view of the Sunday kickoff "We Are One" concert illustrates that celebrities are in the words of US magazine, "Just Like Us," except for the fact that, um, they are ON stage in front of the thousands, make a bucket of money, etc. But it is still kind of interesting to watch John Legend's behind the scenes footage.
Happy Inauguration. I shall be watching, and attempting to Live Blog if my toddler will allow it.

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