Wide Awake and Electoral Politics

Whilst this book isn’t necessarily technology centered it is such a unique book in terms of its subject matter and fits well into this blog’s discussion around politics and the importance of politically aware youth. Getting young people interested in electoral politics is a battle and to tackle it in a young adult fiction book is rare and brave. David Leviathan is well known for his queer young adult fiction and Wide Awake (Published September 29, 2008, Knopf Books for Young Readers), is no exception, painting a world where being queer is acceptable and mainstream. Wide Awake introduces a Queer Jewish president, and almost as unlikely a group of teenagers travelling to a rally to support their preferred president elect. Published two years before President Obama’s election no doubt Leviathan foresaw that almost as previously inconceivable president would be elected in the United States, and that young people would travel across America to see the inauguration of the first African American President.


(image: Boing Boing)

In a time when the role of politics in the classroom is still in debate (Drummond, 2015), and youth enrolment to vote is still relatively low, a book about the political process and in particular a challenge to legitimacy based on alleged fraud is unique. Introducing young people to the idea and complexity of politics gives them the opportunity to understand and engage early, before they are making decisions about whom to vote for, or that they do not wish to vote. Too often young people hear that politics are boring, or that they don’t want to have a political discussion, without understanding that many issues and many of their interest are inherently political, and that political decisions and voting impact them as much as, and in some cases more than their parents or other adults. Young people should be aware that voting affects school funding, it impacts equality, (with gay marriage being a good example currently), local government may impact on their local sports club, there are many ways that young people see a very immediate impact of politics. Of course the political storyline in Wide Awake runs alongside a drama regarding the love lives of the group, however the balance between the storylines is easily maintained and interacts well. This book melds the drama of a teen trip with the complexity of election politics, without them appearing to be shoe horned together.


BBC online: Political debate in class ‘crucial’ to getting young people involved, http://bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-33067326

Drummond,S., NPR.org, Politics in The Classroom: How Much Is Too Much? http://www.nrp.org/sections/ed/2015/08/06/415498760/the-role-of-politics-in-the-classroom

the Information Daily.com: Lack of Politics in the classroom responsible for low voter turnout, http://www.theinformationdaily.com/2014/02/05/lack-of-politics-in-the-classroom-responsible-for-low-young-voter-turnout

McGrath, C., Statistics show 25 per cent of young people failed to enrol to vote in September election: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-21/figures-show-25-per-cent-of-young-people-failed-to-enrol-to-vote/4903292


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