The Day Gogo Went to Vote

The Day Gogo Went to VoteThe Day Gogo Went to Vote. Written by Elinor Batezat Sisulu. Illustrated by Sharon Wilson. Little, Brown and Company, 1996. 32 pages. Recommended for ages 6 and older. ISBN: 9780316702713.

1997 African Studies Association Children’s Book Award

1997 Jane Addams Honor Book

1997 International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society

Thembi, who is six, spends most of her after-school time with her great grandmother, Gogo, who is 100. They are blacks in South Africa in 1994. Soon the first election day on which blacks can vote will arrive. No one in the family expects Gogo to vote. She hasn’t left the house for years. Gogo, however, is determined to exercise her right to vote.

Thembi asks Gogo why it is so important for her to vote. Gogo answers: “Thembi, black people in South Africa have fought for many years for the right to vote. This is the first time we have a chance to vote for our own leaders, and it might be my last. That is why I must vote, no matter how many miles I have to walk, no matter how long I have to stand in line.”

Gogo insists that Thembi accompany her to the polling place. Thembi is very proud of her role in helping her grandmother to vote. She asks many questions at the polling place. The voting officers are pleased to answer her questions so that she will be ready to vote when she becomes 18.

Afterwards there is rejoicing about the voting, and then more rejoicing when Nelson Mandela wins the presidency. But the important thing, more important than Mandela’s win, is that Gogo was able to vote.

The illustrations give a sense of the characters and the importance of what they are doing. Each two-page spread has a fair number of words. Because of that, this might work best as a book read aloud to elementary school students.

In order to keep a democracy, it is vitally important that people vote. We often forget this in the United States. This story is a beautiful lesson in the importance of voting.

Blog Reviews:

6 Elements of Social Justice Ed.
The Picture Book Pusher
Africa Access

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2 thoughts on “The Day Gogo Went to Vote

  1. Hi Liz,

    Good timing on this review as Mandela nears the end of his life. 

    I remember when I realized how recently women got the vote in the USA—our moms’ generation was the first born with the right to vote. 


    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® II, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

    • Hi Heather, I was thinking about Mandela’s apparently impending death when I read the book and wrote the review. He was such a major figure for our generation! Liz

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