Children write to Obama, with advice and to-do lists
Barack Obama is getting unsolicited advice and memos from think tanks left, right and centre. For a change, he could turn to children, one of whom has written: "I really hope you put America back together. No pressure though."world Updated: Jan 17, 2009 11:24 IST
President-elect Barack Obama is getting unsolicited advice and memos from think tanks left, right and centre. For a change, he could turn to children, one of whom has written: "I really hope you put America back together. No pressure though."
That line, by 13-year-old Sheenie Shannon Yip from Seattle, is from "Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama", a book ready for release just in time for the inauguration on Tuesday.
The book is a result of a project of '826 Valencia', a nonprofit writing and tutoring centre founded in 2002 by American author Dave Eggers (of "A Heartbreaking Working of Staggering Genius" fame) and educator Nínive Calegari.
"A few days after the election, our very own programmes director, Jory John, asked students from 826 centers around the country to provide advice and guidance to their new president," the organisation said on its website.
"The result was a stack of hilarious, heartfelt, and occasionally downright practical letters loaded with advice for President Obama."
Here are some samples, from pre-publication excerpts printed in the New York Times:
The first 10 things Obama should do as president, according to Mireya Perez, age 8, San Francisco:
1. Make everyone read books.
2. Don't let teachers give kids hard homework.
3. Make a law where kids only get one page of homework per week.
4. Kids can go visit you whenever they want.
5. Make volunteer tutors get paid.
6. Let the tutors do all the thinking.
7. Make universities free.
8. Make students get extra credit for everything.
9. Give teachers raises.
10. If No. 4 is approved, let kids visit the Oval Office, but don't make it boring.
The first 10 things Obama should do as president, according to Chandler Browne, age 12, Chicago
1. Fly to the White House in a helicopter.
2. Walk in.
3. Wipe feet.
4. Walk to the Oval Office.
5. Sit down in a chair.
6. Put hand-sanitizer on hands.
7. Enjoy moment.
8. Get up.
9. Get in car.
10. Go to the dog pound.
"If I were president I would have fun, because I could run fast," wrote Kenja Zelaya, 6, Los Angeles.
"The best thing about living in the White House would be running around like a maniac. The thing I would like least is the work," wrote Holly Wong, 9, San Francisco.
"I think you should try to change the world by building shelters for the people who live in the streets. It's the beginning of January, and it's cold. Good luck being the president," noted Pamela Mejia, 11, Boston.
"If I were president, I would tell people to not talk too much. It wastes time. I'd also say to war: no more, no more, no more!" advised Catherine Galvan, 6, Chicago.
"Good job on winning. I heard about Area 51. I wanted to ask you if there are any UFO's there. I think that you should tell people in public the truth about Area 51. You would just maybe say, 'That we will take care of it.' And do it," demanded Edwin Jara, 9, New York.
"Could you help my family to get housecleaning jobs? I hope you will be a great president. If I were president, I would help all nations, even Hawaii. President Obama, I think you could help the world," was the advice from nine-year-old Chad Timsing from Los Angeles.
John, editor of the book being published by McSweeney's and 826 National, said in the Times: "Every day after school about 65 children come to our centre to get help with their homework. The place is always vibrant, but on November 5, 2008, the 20 tutors in the room essentially played zone defense to keep things in order. For the students, the election of Barack Obama had overturned their world."
When Obama won, the children's "talk quickly and excitedly turned to what would happen next".
"We decided to channel this energy into a writing assignment. We asked our students to offer their thoughts, hopes and advice to Mr Obama in handwritten letters (many of which came with drawings)."
So, for those fed up with reading geo-strategic experts and TV pundits' words of wisdom for the world's most powerful men, there is finally a collection of letters to Obama, straight from the heart.