[Editor's Note: Powell's is pleased to welcome the pint-sized contributors of Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama to our blog for the next month! Ranging in age from 6 to 14, the kids are all students of 826 National
— a non-profit literacy organization, founded in part by Dave Eggers, with seven chapters countrywide. The book is a compilation of letters written to President Obama shortly after he was elected. We'll be presenting the original letters that were published in the book, plus some updates from our mini-pundits on how our new president is measuring up so far. Get a copy of Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country at 30% off for a limited time.
Original letter by Justine Cameron, age 11:
Dear Mr. Obama,
Hello! My name is Justine Cameron. I live in Seattle, Washington, and I go to Washington Middle School. I am eleven years old. I think that I am very different from all the other people that you have ever met (and I am guessing that is a lot of people). I love singing, dancing, and acting. I am in a play called Oliver Twist at Broadway Bound (that is a kids' acting company) and when I grow up I am going to be a musical actor.
I know that you have a lot of work to do with the United States and I think that you could use some help. That is why I am writing this letter.
The United States of America is a very interesting place. There are millions of people doing tons of stuff all of the time. There are so many people that sometimes there are problems. Schools have problems. And I am particularly interested in education.
My school is a very good school. We have a good curriculum, a very good music program, and wonderful sports. But the neighborhood has a lot of crime. Almost every week, we have a lockdown. (A lockdown is when there is a crime happening around the school and we have to lock our windows, close the shades, and lock our doors just to be safe.) It is really scary and everyone gets really freaked out.
I hope that you can help us make our neighborhood, and all neighborhoods, safe. Maybe you can make sure that everyone has enough to eat, wear, and a place to live. Maybe you can reward people for good behavior? I am not sure what to recommend, but I think that everyone should be able to be safe when they go to school and all schools should be good schools.
Well, good luck finding a dog, too. (I love dogs.)
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Justine writes for Powells.com:
Dear President Obama,
Hi. My name is Justine Cameron. I wrote a letter to you that got put in a book, and I think that they sent it to your office so you can read it. If you haven't read it yet, well, you should. Because a lot of kids took time to tell you how they feel about you, and almost all of the comments were good.
In my letter, I discussed education and the safety of schools. I have been reading up on what you have done so far, and I have a few subjects that I would like to ask you about.
The first thing I want to talk to you about is the merit pay for teachers. You said that you were going to pay teachers depending on their students' performance. I don't think that is such a good idea. Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of your ideas, but this one could be better with just a few little tweaks here and there. I mean, what if the students don't want to be educated? And they don't do well because of that, and so the teachers don't get paid well because of them? I am not one of those students, but believe me, I could tell you a few. And what if the students try and try and try, but they still aren't that good in school? Then the teachers wont get paid very much. Also, Some students are either technically or physically challenged, and they have a hard time in school because of that.
The second thing I want to talk to you about is the length of the school day. You said that you wanted to make the school day longer, and summer shorter. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?!?! I am only 12 and just as the school day is getting shorter because of middle school, you want to make it longer? First of all, the school day is pretty long at my school. Don't you agree that after 6 hours of sitting in classrooms, listening to teachers talk, we should get a break from it all? Second of all, summer is only 2-3 months long as it is. I mean, if you're going to do anything to summer, you should be making it longer! Also, I think that you should give adults a break, too. I mean look at Europe. They have the most breaks from jobs and schools in all the world, I think. And, as far as I know, we have the least. And adults works so hard, just to go right back to work. Whenever my family goes on vacation, my parents bring their computers and say that this time, they aren't going to work that much. Then, once we get where we were going, they immediately start working, and they don't stop for a few days. This gets my mom really stressed out. But they do have a pretty tough job.
In conclusion, everything else has been really good. Good luck, and thank you for your consideration.
12, Seattle WA
P.S. Please, Please, Please don't forget to get a rescue dog!!!!