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The Debrief

Our Most-Read Articles About the Presidency

The Newsela Team
Feb 19, 2020

The presidency may just be one branch of the U.S. government, but it’s safe to say it’s the one that most captures students’ imaginations. From George Washington crossing the Delaware to intrigue within the walls of the White House, a fascination with all things presidential drives many young readers and budding history buffs.

That’s why in honor of President’s Day, we’re exploring the most-read articles about the presidency from this school year so far. And there’s a lot to unpack, from beloved White House pets to the most popular presidential biographies.

When it comes to articles with the word “president” in the headline, the top 20 most-viewed stories cover an impressive variety of topics. Understandably, several provide students with an overview of the U.S. presidency and government: “How Government Works: The president’s job” holds the number three spot, followed by similarly informative pieces about how the U.S. elects presidents and an introduction to the president’s cabinet.

Views of articles with the word “president” in the slug this school year

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The top 20 list shows, however, that students are equally—if not more—drawn to human interest stories about the presidency. The number one story across grade levels is an article about 99-year-old Louise Griffin, a White House volunteer who has worked for four different presidents (and remains above the partisan fray). The most popular article for elementary and middle school students is about Marlon Bundo, the “BOTUS” (Bunny of the United States) who belongs to the family of current Vice President Mike Pence. Number eight on the list isn’t about the U.S. presidency at all: it details the election of Ethiopia’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde.

Another big draw for readers? “Presidential profiles” that introduce students to some of the best-known figures in U.S. history. The bio in the number one spot is, fittingly, our first president George Washington, with presidents Jefferson and Lincoln following close behind. Presidents from the last 50 years don’t appear on the list of top 10 most-viewed bios (John F. Kennedy is the most recent, at number 10) indicating that these pieces are often used in classrooms to help bring the early days of the presidency to life.

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And you can’t explore the lives of presidents without acknowledging some of their most important speeches. When it comes to the top-viewed articles about presidents Washington and Lincoln in particular, presidential speeches, addresses, and letters are a key part of students’ reading, and an important introduction to primary sources. George Washington’s Farewell Address provides students with a glimpse into a president’s views on the young American democracy, while Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address and Gettysburg Address sheds light on critical moments in the struggle over slavery that erupted into civil war. 

From Gettysburg to the story of Louise Griffin, reading about the presidency is a staple in the classroom, enabling students to connect to some of the most complex eras in U.S. history.

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