Interview with Juliette Turner: Teenage Author of “Our Presidents Rock!”
Juliette Turner is not your average 16-year old. Daughter of actress and radio talk show host, Janine Turner, Juliette is not only an honor roll student, a dancer, and singer, she is also the National Youth Director of Constituting America, and the author of two very informative American history books: Our Constitution Rocks! and Our Presidents Rock!
In her latest book, Our Presidents Rock!, Juliette presents plenty of fascinating facts and easy-to-understand background information that makes learning about our nation’s presidents, fun for kids. Her book also includes lots of cartoons, quotes, and other unique illustrations to help kids understand the office of our U.S. presidents.
In a recent interview with PolitiChicks, Juliette answered a few of our questions:
PC: Most 16-year girls I know are busy worrying about their hair and their boyfriends. But you are the National Youth Director of Constituting America. Tell us a little about Constituting America, and what you do as the National Youth director?
JT: My mother founded Constituting America, and that was the year that I read the Constitution for the first time… Spring break of 2010, my mother sat down with me and said, “We are going to read the Constitution together.” And so that’s when my interest in not only the Constitution, but also American history began.
Constituting America is a non-profit organization geared toward teaching my generation to love the Constitution and to help and encourage them to make songs, public service announcements, short films, along with essays and poetry for young children about the Constitution and what it means to them.
We want to reach my generation through the culture because we realize that my generation is not going to sit down and read volumes of John Locke, Montesquieu, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. They are not going to want to read that. They are going to want to watch Netflix and read their Twitter feeds. So if we can have them driving down the road and hear a song about the Constitution, then hey, that’s much better than nothing. So, that’s what we are geared toward at Constituting America.
As youth director, I’m kind of in charge of hearing the pulse of my generation. So I make videos and I also have a blog.
PC: What’s it like to do all these speaking engagements and events with your (famous) mom?
JT: I love speaking with my mother. We’re a great team. I love going to schools. We’ve even gone to some retirement homes to talk to some people about the Constitution. So, it’s great. She’s my greatest role model and hearing her speak is always so encouraging to me and I look up to her in so many ways.
PC: You have a new book coming out called, Our Presidents Rock! What was it that inspired you to write a book about our nation’s presidents?
JT: Two things. The first one was that my first book, Our Constitution Rocks! did so well that Barnes and Nobles and my publishers actually requested a second book from me. So, I wanted a second book in the “Rocks” series, so to speak.
Secondly, I realized that a lot of kids my age feel very apathetic toward our government. We tend to think, “Oh it’s up there in Washington, D.C., the president’s just a man sitting in a glorious White House, he has nothing in common with us, our voices have no meaning.” And, I think a lot of that stems from inadequate knowledge about our presidents, the men that they were and are.
The presidents were and are men just like us. I’m raised by a single mother. So, I found out that nine presidents were raised by single mothers, including: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and even Bill Clinton for a time. I found that the presidents really did have a lot in common with me, and they are not just some immortal perfect men that have become the great leaders of our nation. But it was their hardships that made them the great leaders that they are today.
PC: Can you share a couple fun facts about a couple of our presidents with us?
JT: Of course, I found out a lot of fun facts about the first ladies as well. A great fun fact that I found about one of first ladies is that, Grace Coolidge was a renegade herself, because she was the very first ‘first lady’ to hold press conferences of her own and to speak her own ideas.
PC: Everybody’s paying attention to the recent indictment of Governor Rick Perry. I actually just read an article you wrote about Rick Perry not being the first politician to face partisan wrath for a veto. Can you tell us more about that?
JT: Absolutely. Through my research, I found that history does repeat itself indeed. If you look back to the 1840s at our tenth president, John Tyler, you can find that Rick Perry is not the first politician to be chastised for a veto…He (John Tyler) was also very well known for his vetoes… He vetoed the independent treasury system and many other Congressional tariffs that had been passed. Congress was very mad about that, and the Whigs, which was his own party. And so when he vetoed the Congressional tariff bill twice, the Whigs in Congress tried to impeach him! But then realizing they really had no grounds for that, it didn’t go anywhere.
So, in light of Rick Perry’s recent indictment over a veto, which was in his full power, you can see that sometimes chastisements are ‘partisanly’ charged.
PC: Based on what you have researched and written about all of our presidents, do you think that anybody could be president if they really wanted to be?
JT: I actually have a campaign on my twitter right now, ‘You Can Be president Too,” http://vimeo.com/101767754 and I made these videos where I talk about the hardships our presidents have encountered. For example, Ulysses S. Grant, even though he was a great Civil War military general, he couldn’t even hold a job or even grow a crop for his family before he became president. And Harry Truman’s small business failed. And Andrew Jackson had little to no real schooling in his childhood.
So, a lot of these presidents have a lot in common with us, and as I said before, it’s the hardships that made them the great men that they were. And you can see this in Abraham Lincoln as well… he was always known for his humor but he remarked that it was actually his deep depression that led to his great humor and his ability to lead. So I do believe that anybody can be president and it just requires a great determination, also a love of country and our Constitution.
PC: You are obviously a very busy teenager. How do you balance school with your writing and speaking engagements?
JT: Well, it is kind of hard to balance it all sometimes, especially since I’m about to be a junior in high school. My mother’s always taught me to be very diligent with my timing. It’s a challenge but I somehow manage to do it.
PC: Do you plan on a career in politics?
JT: I do! I hope to serve my country in the political realm in the future.
PC: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
JT: Of course, I’m a die-hard Texan. And my mother and I have a 300-acre ranch here in Texas so I love being on my ranch and being out there with my 25 Longhorn cattle, my two Angus cattle, my pony, my 4 dogs, and my 2 cats. That’s where I like to be reading or hiking or doing anything of that nature.
PC: When is your book coming out?
JT: It’s released September 30th.