Cokie Roberts Writes History for Kids, But Loves Talking Early American Sex Scandal

Roberts loves the story of a letter detailing sex scandal, but it doesn't make the kids book cut.

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Cokie Roberts speaks at the DC Entertainment Launch of 'We Can Be Heroes' at Time Warner Center on Jan. 23, 2012, in New York City.
Broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts' spin-off to her 2005 children's book "Founding Mothers" is slated for a Jan. 28 release.

Like Hillary Clinton, Lynne Cheney and Callista Gingrich before her, veteran broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts has joined the club of Washington women who have authored a children's book.

"The one that I think is the closest to this is Lynne Cheney's 'A is for Abigail,'" Roberts said of her new read, but added that she didn't seek advice from Cheney or the others to write it. "First of all they're busy, I'm busy and I had very good editors."

Editors that helped Roberts turn her 2005 book "Founding Mothers" into an age-appropriate children's spin-off of the same name, which comes out Jan. 28. The children's version of "Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies," features first ladies already taught in school -- Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison -- and other lesser known women alive during the time of the founding. There's Deborah Read Franklin, wife of Ben, and Sarah "Sally" Livingston Jay, wife of John Jay, the country's first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The kids book uses a lot of the same research from Roberts' two previous works "Founding Mothers"and "Ladies of Liberty."

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"I just went back and re-checked everything," Roberts explained.

(Courtesy of Debartlo and Co.)

Having done this kind of research for the last decade, Roberts told Whispers it's hard to pick her favorite of the early American ladies.

"It's like asking you what your favorite interview is," she said. "But clearly if you wanted to sit down to dinner with somebody and have fun -- Sally Jay -- her letters are just delightful and she apparently was a somewhat famous hostess."

Dolley Madison, according to Roberts, was also a "gifted people person," while Adams personality was "just daunting."

"She'd put you in your place, probably," Roberts said.

Speaking of Adams, the way she was portrayed by actress Laura Linney in the HBO miniseries "John Adams" didn't realistically show how "out there she was," Roberts suggested.

"It gave you a sense of how hard working she was, but it didn't give you a sense of how feisty and smart she was," Roberts said. "And her mouth, she had a mouth, and they don't ever really show that."

As for her modern-day political sister?

"Oh, Hillary Clinton would be the equivalent of her today," Roberts said.

Roberts may have had some trouble choosing favorites of her founding mothers, but a top letter was easy. Roberts was reading correspondence between Louisa Catherine Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, and her father-in-law, John Adams. Louisa Catherine Adams told the story of a particularly long session of Congress as lawmakers hashed out the Missouri Compromise of 1820. As legislators were leaving Washington to head back to their home districts, the folks at Washington's orphan asylum said that they were going to need a new building.

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Why? It seems that Congress had gotten busy in the bedroom as well.

"They had left 40 pregnant women behind," Roberts explained. "And there were only 187 members of Congress at that point."

In her letter, Louisa Catherine Adams suggested these "great and moral fathers" donate their pay raise to the cause.

"This is actually my favorite letter of all the letters, which I came upon out of the blue," Roberts said.

That story, however, didn't make it into Roberts new children's book.

"Are you kidding? Include it?" Roberts replied.

"I was ready to lead with it," she laughed.

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