Widespread disillusionment with politics among young voters has triggered a rush by the main parties to consider reducing the voting age to 16. But one author has gone one further step in trying to engage the young – by writing what is thought to be the first children's book in the UK on general elections.
With 7 May just over four months away, The Election, a picture book aimed at young children, tells the story of a boy named Alex who asks his parents about politics and voting. Ellie Levenson, a journalist and author, got the idea for the book after her own daughter started asking questions when the family went to a polling station during this year's local elections.
The story follows preschooler Alex and his parents, who canvass for the stripy party, and Evie and her parents, who are supporters of the spotty party. Door-knocking, voting, television debates and results night are all explained alongside colourful illustrations by Marek Jagucki.
Ms Levenson said: "I wanted to normalise voting and participation from a young age so that children don't grow up as thinking of politics as something other people do, but as something that everyone does.
"Children are inherently interested in how their society works and ask pertinent questions all the time. When a child asks why another child doesn't have as many toys as they do, the answers are political even if you're not using terms like 'inequality' or 'public service cuts' in your answers, and this books tries to give that a bit of context. I grew up with politics being part of everyday conversation, and I've no doubt that's why I ended up working for a think tank and then as a journalist."
The book was crowdfunded through Kickstarter and received backing from representatives of the three main political parties including Labour councillors, a Tory MP and a Liberal Democrat peer. The book is the first from Fisherton Press, a new publishing company set up by Ms Levenson, who has titles by other authors lined up.
Ms Levenson added: "It was really important in The Election for the parties not to be recognisable as any real parties because it's about process rather than policy. So there's the spotty party and the stripy party.
"The main moral of the story is tolerance – only one party wins, and you'll have to read the book to find out which – but the children remain friends anyway. I'll consider the book a success if the general election in 2030 has a high turnout as a result of the young children who read the book now coming of age."
'The Election' is published on 5 January and is online from todayReuse content