Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Download a song, if you promise to vote; 'tweet' the debate as it happens; sing your way through election history; and more.

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A lyrical election primer

In between watching Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970s and '80s, kids learned about United States history – courtesy of Schoolhouse Rock and its catchy tunes and lyrics. Disney's Election Collection DVD has classics such as "The Preamble" and "I'm Going to Send Your Vote to College," just in time to remind us – in a fun way – how the government is set up and how the electoral process works. Rock on!

presidential satire

Recommended: 10 best books of November: the Monitor's picks

Saturday Night Live goes prime time live this month with three consecutive Thursday night shows focused on presidential politics. Airing at 9:30 p.m. beginning Oct. 9, the half-hour specials will be anchored by the show's Weekend Update faux news team. To cap off the election season, SNL's quadrennial Presidential Bash returns Nov. 3, with a full recap of the season's presidential satire.

Get the vote – and your iPod – out

Here's an unusual electoral slogan: Vote for Wilco. No, Jeff Tweedy isn't running for office. But for a free download of Wilco and Fleet Foxes covering Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," you have to pledge to vote in November's election by visiting wilcoworld.net/vote/. Now, that's the sort of fair trade any party could agree to.

Vamos a votar!

Latinos '08, a new documentary from Phillip Rodriguez, examines the influence of the growing Latino voting bloc and how that could affect the presidential election. The one-hour special airs at 9 p.m. Oct. 8 on PBS.

Tweet, tweet

Planning on watching the presidential debates on TV but craving a more interactive experience? Current TV has teamed up with Twitter for Hack the Debate. As many as possible of your real-time messages ("tweets") will be shown along with the live broadcast, letting you "hear" others' opinions and share your own. It's like having a "debate party" in your living room – but you don't have to supply the chips and dip!

life, liberty, and cartoons

If you think an educational cartoon is an oxymoron, this Emmy-nominated series just might change your mind. Liberty's Kids, which first aired on PBS, covers the Revolutionary War from the Boston Tea Party to the drafting of the Constitution through the eyes of two teenage apprentice journalists under the care of Benjamin Franklin. The animation is only pedestrian, and celebrity voices range from the sublime (veteran newsman Walter Cronkite as Franklin) to the ridiculous (Sylvester Stallone as Paul Revere). But pound for pound, the 40-episode series does a better job of explaining the creation of the United States to 7-to-12-year-olds than some textbooks.

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