When Jan Lettes Zauzmer ’83’s three children were young, she and her husband brought them along to the voting booth on Election Day and encouraged them to push the buttons to cast her vote. Inspired by those memories, she has penned If You Go with Your Goat to Vote (The Experiment Publishing), a picture book that introduces children to the thrill of joining their parents for this civic duty.“I wanted a way for grown-ups to talk about the election with their kids,” says Zauzmer, whose book is aimed at 2- to 5-year-olds. “It’s never too early to foster excitement about participating in our democracy. I can think of no call to action right now that matters more than exercising our right to vote. And my hope is that kids will be inspired to grow up to be voters themselves.”
The book follows 13 animals and their offspring as they head to the polls, stand in line, enter the booth, cast a vote, and watch the returns come in. It also shows a duck casting his vote by mail. Included in the book are stickers that say “I Voted” and cute campaign slogans.
If You Go with Your Goat to Vote is Zauzmer’s first book, but she has been involved in writing and civic projects since her time at Princeton, when she served as chair of the Student Volunteers Council and majored in the School of Public and International Affairs. After graduating from Stanford Law School, she worked at a firm in Los Angeles on civil litigation but stopped practicing before having children.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Zauzmer has lived for 30 years in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where she spent two decades volunteering in various capacities at Congregation Beth Or. As president of the congregation, she created community events to engage children and their parents in Jewish holidays and traditions. For “Russia-Shana,” whose theme was immigrant history, hundreds of congregants recorded information about their journey to the United States on a wall map while listening to a quartet play klezmer music and eating borscht, black bread, and herring.
In the last several years, Zauzmer has published opinion pieces on politics and other topics in The Inquirer in Philadelphia, The Baltimore Sun, The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey, and several Jewish publications. She is thrilled that, at the age of 59, she is a debut author, thanks in part to John Oakes ’83, the co-founder of OR Books, who introduced her to her publisher. The book was accepted in January and fast-tracked to reach readers in September, before the presidential election.
As she embarked on writing the book, Zauzmer reflected on advice offered on the last day of a sociology class taught by the late Marvin Bressler, who was a much-beloved professor at Princeton for 30 years. “It was his 90-10 rule,” Zauzmer recalls. “He told us that 90 percent of life inevitably is bookkeeping — doing laundry, getting groceries, paying bills. He charged us to make the other 10 percent count. For me, writing this book falls squarely in the 10 percent.”