43 pages 1 hour read

Dan Gutman

The Kid Who Ran for President

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1996

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Summary and Study Guide


The Kid Who Ran for President by Dan Gutman (Scholastic, 1996) follows a 12-year-old boy as he campaigns to become the next president of the United States. In 2016, John Oliver presented a segment on Last Week Tonight, where he compared the book to the Trump campaign. Gutman is the author of over 70 books for kids and young adults, including the Baseball Card Adventures series, the My Weird School series, and the Million Dollar series. He holds a bachelor's in Psychology from Rutgers University. He worked as a magazine editor and columnist for several years before realizing he would rather write for children. He currently lives with his wife in New York City. This guide follows the Scholastic 2012 version of The Kid Who Ran for President.

Plot Summary

The Kid Who Ran for President is told from the perspective of 12-year-old Judson Moon, the kid running for president. While watching the news, Judson’s friend Lane Brainard gets the idea that a kid would make a perfect president and, after some debate, decides Judson is the kid for the job. Judson is skeptical but agrees, not wanting to let Lane down and thinking the entire thing is a grand joke. After announcing his intention to run for president to his friends, Judson prepares his campaign with Lane’s help.

At Lane’s urging, Judson adjusts his image to make himself more palatable to the American public, including convincing the prettiest girl in school to be his first lady. With his former babysitter, June Syers, as his vice president, Judson moves forward with media appearances, becoming a national phenomenon. Campaign promises to abolish homework and other items of importance to middle schoolers make Judson popular among the kids of America, and his unique approach to campaigning wins over many adults.

Judson faces several challenges along his campaign journey. Lane says they need $20 million to build an effective campaign, and while they can’t make the money on their own, Judson’s winning media presence inspires kids across the country to raise funds. When the government and media say Judson can’t run because he is too young, protests from the people force Congress to pass an amendment to the Constitution that states age shall not be a restriction to run for public office.

A few days before the election, Judson debates his opposing candidates on national television. Knowing he doesn’t have a chance against them, Judson answers all the questions with the first thing that comes to mind, hoping his attitude will get him thrown from the presidential race. To his dismay, the tactic only makes him more popular until the media learns of questionable activities from his past, including breaking into a kid’s locker a few years ago. With his approval rating slipping, Judson apologizes to America, winning back many of his fans.

On Election Day, the race comes down to California, whose votes go to Judson, making him president-elect. Judson delivers his acceptance speech, asking America what they were thinking electing a 12-year-old kid. He resigns from the presidency and returns to his life, leaving the country wondering what happens now.

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