The Blurb On The Back:
You’ve just made your first great decision as LEADER OF YOUR VERY OWN COUNTRY – you’ve picked up this brilliant* book.
GOOD MOVE, BOSS!
You see, being top dog isn’t easy. There are lots of important decisions to make.
What kind of government will you set up and how will it work?
How can you be as fair as possible (if you care about that kind of thing**)?
What are you going to do about all those tricky issues like climate change and inequality?
You’re going to need to figure out HOW POLITICS WORKS, WHAT YOU STAND FOR and WHY LEADERSHIP MATTERS.
Don’t panic. This funny and fact-packed book will guide you every step of the way.
You’ll be ruling LIKE A PRO in no time!
* Though we say so ourselves.
** We, your people, are kind of hoping you do.
You can order IF I RAN THE COUNTRY by Rich Knight from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK. I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Rich Knight is an award-winning BBC journalist. This is a light-hearted but informative guide for children aged 9+ about the serious subject of government with fun and inclusive illustrations by Allan Sanders. Knight runs through different types of government, key policies, international co-operation and economic systems in a way that emphasises how politics is about choices and compromise but without ever being patronising to readers.
The first thing to say about this book is that I really liked Knight’s conversational writing style – he addresses the reader directly and packs the text with information (including through the use of footnotes) and also throws in some dad jokes here and then. It’s a really good way of communicating what is actually a complicated subject that adults like me can struggle with understanding but he does it in a way that you don’t feel talked down to. This style is well complemented by Allan Sanders’s illustrations – while pick up on things Knight mentions and expands out some of the dad jokes in a way that made me smile. Full marks to Sanders, incidentally, for depicting people of different races and those with disabilities too. It’s great to see efforts made for inclusivity and representation – especially when it’s a book like this about governing and leading.
Knight starts by running through the different types of government – democracy, anarchy, monarchy, absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, dictatorship – and then runs through how democracy works, different ways of carrying out elections and who can vote. He then moves on to structuring government departments (which department does what activity) and the importance of having good teams and international trade and working with other countries. From there he discuses policies – making the reader think about what they stand for and explaining different types of ideologies (liberal/progressive, conservative, libertarianism, nationalist, feminist) and what capitalism is and how it works. I particularly liked how he emphasises that as leader you are not able to make everyone happy and this idea of choices and compromises is one that runs through the book. There’s a chapter on fairness and what that means, using it to explain taxation. There’s also a chapter on big world issues including climate change, artificial intelligence, and poverty before the book concludes with some advice on how readers can participate now in politics and government.
Each chapter ends with a little To Do Checklist for readers to complete, some of which draws on the subjects that Knight has been writing about but some of which is also the more “run” bits of running a country, like designing a flag and deciding on a currency. It works really well to make readers think about what they’ve just been told and work out what they’d like to see happen if they were in control and I think it also gives useful things for younger readers to talk about with adults.
All in all, it’s a well done book that covers the big issues and has enough conversation points in there for children to find out more and ask adults about. As such, it’s definitely worth a look if you have children in the 9+ age group who are interested in the world around them and how we are governed.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.