project tips, reflection questions, and book suggestions for citizen activism with kids!

Teach the Power of Speaking Up

Make a difference in your community by sharing your opinion with leaders.

Contacting your elected officials when you feel strongly about an issue can teach your children about being engaged citizens.

Possible recipients

The person/group that benefits when you tell elected officials your opinion.

 Help kids create drawings, cards, and letters asking leaders to support important issues.

Help kids create drawings, cards, and letters asking leaders to support important issues.

What you’ll need

  • Paper and pen or a computer/printer
  • Stamp (if mailing)
  • 3-ring binder (optional)
  • Passion for a cause


  • Look up your congressional leaders here.
  • Post their name, email address, phone numbers and photo in a prominent place – perhaps the refrigerator.
  • When an issue arises that you feel is important, talk to your family about why it matters to you. Ask their opinion, too.
  • After your chat, send a note to your representative stating your position. If you have younger children, have them draw a picture to include.
  • If you get a mailed response, post it on the refrigerator. Or collect responses in a 3-ring binder.
  • Encourage your children to bring up issues that matter to them, and talk about how they can make a difference.


  • Why is it important to be an active citizen?
  • How do you think elected officials can be spokespersons for those they represent?
  • What issues would be most important to you if you were an elected official? Which job would you like to have?
  • What are other ways you can you get involved and have your voice heard?


  • Duck for President by Doreen Cronin (Atheneum, 2008). Ages 4-8. Humorous story of a duck who holds an election to replace Farmer Brown. He works his way up to governor, then president.
  • D Is for Democracy: A Citizen’s Alphabet by Elissa Grodin (Sleeping Bear Press, 2007). Ages 4-8. In this rhyming primer, each letter introduces a different concept to the reader, such as “A” for “amendment” and “B” for “Bill of Rights.”
  • If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier (Albert Whitman & Company, 2008). Ages 4-8. Six children discuss what they would do if they were running for president. Describes the election process from making the decision to run to being sworn in.
  • The Kid Who Ran for President and The Kid Who Became President, both by Dan Gutman (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2000). Ages 9-12. What would happen if a kid became President of the United States? Gutman tells the story of Judson Moon, first kid president.

Take it further

  • Make your voice heard with a phone call! Leaving a voice mail or speaking with a staff person about your concerns holds more weight with legislative leaders.
  • Take on a local issue (such as repairing a local playground or funding a new school gym) and have your family do whatever it can to be heard. Write letters, create a petition, visit your representatives or raise money.
  • “Adopt” a larger issue as a family for a year — for example, literacy, homelessness, hunger or endangered species. Raise awareness, take up a collection of needed items, and advocate by contacting your representatives.

Still looking for creative ways to support a cause you love?

Check out our fun fundraiser ideas!