A 2016 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 26 percent of Americans were able to name all three branches of government; 31 percent of surveyed people couldn’t name a single branch.
“Those unfamiliar with our three branches of government can’t understand the importance of checks and balances and an independent judiciary,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center in the report. “Lack of basic civics knowledge is worrisome and an argument for an increased focus on civics education in the schools.”
Humza White, a local sixth grader, is the exception to the rule. Last March, Humza self-published a nonfiction book, “Civics with Humza: The 3 Branches of Government.”
“It’s about the three branches of government,” he says. “A lot of people don’t know [what they are].”
Humza first became interested in politics two years ago in fourth grade. When he first began hearing about the way American government worked, he wanted to know more. “We’re the main democracy in the world and a powerful country,” he says.
The White family self-published his book because they felt that his own words, his own voice, was the perfect medium to help other kids understand the complexities of government. “It’s about 20 pages, with a quiz at the end,” Sophia says. “He came up with the idea, he wrote it all, I helped put it together, and we self-published it.”
“Civics with Humza” is a quick, easy to follow overview of the three branches of U.S. government, and how each one works. Humza’s words are accompanied by illustrations done by Humza’s cousin, Isabella White.
Humza says actually holding his book in his hands was exciting. “I didn’t think it was actually real.”
He’s enjoyed seeing the impact his book has had on friends and family who have read it. “When I was first selling it, a lot of people came up to me and asked what it was because they didn’t understand,” Humza recalls. “Then they read the book and understood.”
“He’s very much into government history and politics,” his mother and editor, Sophia White says. “He’s so into it, he watched all the election stuff. A few days ago, he watched the Jan. 6 events at the capitol live. He follows it on his phone, and spends his free time watching that stuff.”
Last year, they intended to host an event with Frisco ISD, but the pandemic forced them to cancel. Most of their traffic is online, but they always have books on hand to sell.
“It’s so dry sometimes, it’s not interesting to a lot of people,” Sophia says. “But Humza talks about it with his friends. It’s an election year and it’s been so exciting for him to watch. He’s so passionate about it.”
He adds that he is already working on another edition of “Civics with Humza,” focused on current political events.
“He’d like to be involved in politics at some point,” Sophia adds. “We figure this is a good start.”