Cokie Roberts Honors Founding Mothers in New Children’s Book

by Michelle Hutchinson

Michelle Hutchinson and Cokie Roberts at the Davis Academy, Atlanta, GA

Michelle Hutchinson (left) and Cokie Roberts (right)

If you make the rounds of the Sunday morning TV news programs or listen to NPR, you’re no doubt familiar with political commentator Cokie Roberts. Roberts is also a best-selling author, and her most recent book, Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies (HarperCollins), which was released just last week, is sort of a children’s version of the 2005 adult book Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation.

Last night, I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Roberts talk about her new book at a local Jewish academy. (Like my husband and me, Ms. Roberts and her spouse are an interfaith couple.) Roberts was introduced by NPR’s Lois Reitzes who revealed that just moments earlier, Founding Mothers had hit number three on The New York Times Best Seller List for children’s books, although we won’t see that ranking until a week from Sunday.

Dust jackiet artwork

Dust jacket from Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies

Ms. Roberts grew up surrounded by strong women, not the least of whom was her mother, Lindy Boggs, who served nine terms in the House of Representatives and was later appointed ambassador to the Vatican by President Bill Clinton. Those strong women certainly affected Ms. Roberts enough for her to write a book showcasing influential women who played behind-the-scenes roles in the American Revolution. And not unlike the women in Founding Mothers, Lindy Boggs played a behind-the-scenes role in politics before running for office; she was the official campaign manager for Hale Boggs, her husband, whose Congressional seat she occupied after his death in a plane crash.

Founding Mothers gives young readers a wonderful glimpse of ten women who truly made a difference in our country’s history. In fact, I learned several new tidbits of information from reading this book. For example, while Benjamin Franklin was living abroad for the better part of seventeen years as the Pennsylvania colony’s representative to England, Deborah ran Franklin’s printing business. And when he was still living overseas and later named the first postmaster general, Deborah ran the U.S. Postal Service.

There are so many other stories like this that Roberts said, “The best compliment to the women came from the enemy. During the war, British general Lord Cornwallis once wrote, ‘We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women.’”

Cokie Roberts signing books

Ms. Roberts signing copies of her books

Beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Medal-winner Diane Goode, the book includes the signatures of all ten of the women presented in Founding Mothers. During her talk, Roberts joked that she told Goode “You’ve done such a good job of copying their signatures that you should become a counterfeiter in your next life.”

Ms. Roberts, in this book, you have done an equally good job of teaching our children about the important role of women during Revolutionary War era. Founding Mothers would make a great addition to any child’s library.

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