Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Kids and Teachers Illustration

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

For Kids

Roosevelt almost did not run for president. In 1921, he discovered he had polio, a common disease in the 1920s, and a devastating one. One of the damaging aspects of the disease is that it left its victims with shriveled legs. Victims of polio rarely could walk without help after they got well. FDR, like many other people who had contracted polio, used a wheelchair. With the support of his beloved wife, Eleanor, he decided he could make a difference. He did run in 1932. And won. And changed the world. Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only U.S. president elected for four consecutive terms - 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944. FDR guided the nation through the Great Depression and World War II.

His first term, when Franklin Roosevelt took over the office of the presidency, things were desperate across America. More than 1 in 4 people were unemployed. Many others could only find part-time or day work. Almost every bank had failed. Many millions of people had lost their homes and were living in shanties and cardboard boxes. Many were starving. The government's policies under Hoover had done little to help. FDR wasted no time. During his first 100 days in office, FDR and Congress introduced 50 new laws and sweeping reforms called the "The New Deal".  Each law had a mission - relief, recovery or reform. 

FDR used his "Fireside Chats" on the radio to tell people what he was doing, and why. He kept people informed using "chats" as you would with a dear friend. He emphasized that we were in this together and we would get through this together. He spoke slowly and clearly. He calmed the nation. People had tremendous faith in him.

As his New Deal programs were implemented, things did improve. But the Great Depression did not end. It took more programs, 10 years, and a world war to finally bring the country back to prosperity. Roosevelt was president the entire time, from 1932 until he died in 1944.

FDR's personal hero was Teddy Roosevelt, who was his 5th cousin. Eleanor, his wife, was Teddy Roosevelt's niece. FDR had graduated from Harvard. He studied law. His family was very rich. But polio had taught FDR about pain and suffering and coping. "We Do Our Part" was the slogan of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration. This slogan captured the can-do spirit of the American people and of FDR himself.

FDR - "We have nothing to fear but fear itself", speech - 1 minute, FDR's first inauguration speech)

Confidence, cartoon, 1933 with Oswald the Rabbit and Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt game

Franklin D Roosevelt jeopardy game

The New Deal for Kids

Some of the major agencies FDR created to fight the depression, and their purpose

Games for Kids about the Great Depression and the 1930s

The Great Depression and the New Deal Interactive Quiz with answers

For Teachers

Lesson Plans, Great Depression, New Deal, 1930s