Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Jennifer L. Lewis (Director), Dr. Daniel Modaff, Dr. Blair Thompson


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Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis explores the content of presidential communication to children, specifically the only three presidential speeches that have been designed for children. These three speeches are President Barack Obama's speech to children in 2009, George H.W. Bush's speech to children in 1991, and Ronald Reagan's speech to children in 1988. Through content analysis this thesis was designed to determine whether persuasive strategies were used in these messages to children, and if persuasive strategies were present, which ones were used. Through qualitative analysis conducting a focus group discussion with children exposed to one of the presidential speeches, this thesis also explored the speeches from children's perspectives. Political socialization theory is used as framework for developing the study, and three persuasive theories are used for analysis of the speeches.

The findings provide insight into presidential communication to children and implications of future research in this area. Findings suggest that persuasive strategies are present and a variety of techniques are utilized in the speeches. The purpose and common topics of these speeches are also explored. Focus group findings support that children can identify persuasive strategies present in the speeches and provide insight into the knowledge children retain from exposure to the communication.


Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies