Dec 062016

Dave Brubeck (born Concord, California, 1920; died Norwalk, Connecticut, December 5, 2012) was a jazz musician. Children can view a great website devoted to him and listen to his music at:

Ira Gershwin (born New York, New York, 1896; died Beverly Hills, California, August 17, 1983) was a lyricist. He often worked with his brother, George. His Broadway hits include Funny Face. Children can visit a wonderful website and listen to his lyrics at:

Alfred Eisenstaedt (born Dirschau, Prussia, 1898; died Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, August 23, 1955) was a famous photojournalist. He was known for his photographs published by Life magazine. One of his most popular photographs was of a soldier kissing a nurse to celebrate the end of World War II. Children can view that photograph and many others at:

John Reynolds Gardiner (born Los Angeles, California, 1944; died Anaheim, California, March 4, 2006) was a children’s author. One of his most famous books is Stone Fox. Over four million copies of the book have been sold. Children can learn more about Gardiner at:

Alfred Joyce Kilmer (born New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1886; died in battle near Ourcy, France, July 30, 1918) was a poet. One of his most famous poems is “Trees,” published in 1913. Idea: The children could read “Trees” at: Children can read his works at:

Cornelia Meigs (born Rock Island, Illinois, 1884; died Havre de Grace, Maryland, September 10, 1973) wrote over 30 books for children as well as screenplays and books for adults. The Windy Hill received a 1922 Newbery Honor Award. Clearing Weather won a 1929 Newbery Honor Award. Swift Rivers obtained a 1933 Newbery Honor Award. Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of “Little Women” received the Newbery Medal in 1934. Children can read The Windy Hill at: Children can learn more at:

Elizabeth Yates (born Buffalo, New York, 1905; died Concord, New Hampshire, July 29, 2001) was a children’s author, publishing at least 25 books. In 1944 she received a Newbery Honor Award for Mountain Born, and in 1951 her Amos Fortune, Free Man was awarded the Newbery Medal. In 1955 Rainbow Round the World received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Children can learn more at:

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Dec 072016

Willa Cather (born Winchester, Virginia, 1873; died New York, New York, April 24, 1947) is an author. One of her most famous works, published in 1913, is O Pioneers! She won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. You can read many of her works at:

Harry Chapin (born Greenwich Village, New York, 1942; died in an automobile crash, Long Island, New York, July 1981) was a folk singer and composer. Idea: Harry Chapin received the Special Congressional Medal of Honor for his concerns about world hunger. See if you can find recordings of his work. Play them. See if students would like to collect canned food for one of the nearby food banks.

Richard Warren Sears (born Stewartville, Minnesota, 1863; died Waukesha, Wisconsin, September 28, 1914) was working as a railroad station agent. He then began to sell watches via the mail. He formed a partnership with Alvah C. Roebuck, who repaired the watches. They created Sears, Roebuck and Company. At first it was strictly a mail order company. However, later they opened their first retail store. Sears and Roebuck formed a team. Children could list other famous teams (for example, Laurel and Hardy, or peanut butter and jelly).

John Tunis (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1889; died Essex, Connecticut, February 4, 1975) was a writer and sportscaster. He was also the author of at least 24 sports books, including The Kid from Tomkinville. Children can learn more at:

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Dec 082016

Mary Azarian (born Washington, DC, 1940) is an illustrator, working with woodcuts. She has illustrated over 50 children’s books and won the 1999 Caldecott Medal for Snowflake Bentley. Children can visit her website to view beautiful works of art as well as covers of many of her books at:

Miriam Chaikin (born Jerusalem, December 8, 1928) writes for both children and adults. She received the 1985 Sydney Taylor Award for her body of work. Children might want to read Alexandra’s Scroll: The Story of the First Hanukkah, illustrated by Stephen Fieser. They might want to view Chaikin’s website:

Padraic Colum (born Ireland, 1881; died Enfield, Connecticut, January 11, 1972) wrote plays and at least 61 books. He is most known for his children’s books. He earned a 1926 Newbery Honor Award for The Voyagers: Being Legends and Romances of Atlantic Discovery. He also received a 1934 Newbery Honor Award for Big Tree of Bunlahy: Stories of My Own Countryside. Children can read many of his works at:

Horace (born 65 B.C.; died 8 B.C.) was a great poet during ancient Roman times. Although his father had been a slave, Horace was well educated and a member of the army. Later, a wealthy friend recognized Horace’s talents and supported him. Horace was free from financial worries and could write. One of his most famous works is Odes. Children can read many of his works at:

Diego Rivera (born Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886; died Mexico City, Mexico, November 25, 1957) was an artist known for his large murals. He worked in earth tones and celebrated the common people. Rivera made very large murals. Perhaps the children could plan and complete a very large but temporary mural in chalk on the playground. Children can see many of his works at the Google Art Project at: They can also read Diego Rivera: His World and Ours, by Duncan Tonatiuh. This book won the 2012 Pura Belpré Award for best illustrations.

James Grover Thurber (born Columbus, Ohio, 1894; died New York, New York, November 2, 1961) was a writer and cartoonist. Much of his work appeared in The New Yorker magazine. One of his most famous short stories is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” He wrote several books for children, including Many Moons, which earned the 1944 Caldecott Medal for illustrator Louis Slobodkin. Other children’s books include The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O. Children can learn more about Thurber at:

Edwin Tunis (born Cold Springs, New York, 1897; died 1973) wrote books for children. He received a Newbery Honor Award in 1962 for Frontier Living. Children can learn more at:

Eli Whitney (born Westborough, Massachusetts, 1765; died New Haven, Connecticut, January 8, 1825) was an inventor. He invented the cotton gin in 1793. It could clean as much cotton as fifty people could clean. Even though he had patented the cotton gin, other manufacturers made copies of his work. He fought them in the courts over years of trials. He also made muskets with interchangeable parts for the United States military. In 1798 he made 10,000 guns. Children can read more about Whitney at the Eli Whitney Museum:

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Dec 092016

Joan Blos (born New York, New York, 1928) writes books for children. A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32 won the Newbery Medal in 1979.

Jean De Brunhoff (born Paris, France, 1899; died Switzerland, October 16, 1937) was a children’s author. He is known for his books about Babar the Elephant. When Jean died in 1937, his son Laurent continued his father’s legacy by creating 30 more Babar books. Children could see if they see a difference between Jean’s Babar and Laurent’s Babar. They could learn more at:

Joel Chandler Harris (born Eatonton, Georgia, 1848; died Atlanta, Georgia, July 3, 1908) was an author. Among other works, he wrote the Uncle Remus stories. Children can read many of his works at: They can also learn more at:

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper (born New York, New York, 1906; died Arlington, Virginia, January 1, 1992) was a computer scientist and mathematician. She was employed by the military for a good part of her life. She worked on the Mark I computer team. She coined the word bug for computer foul-ups when she found an insect in the Mark I’s circuitry. She helped create COBOL, and she standardized the navy’s computer languages. She retired from the military in 1986 as the oldest officer on active duty, and she was buried in Arlington Cemetery. Computers have created all kinds of new terms, such as RAM and Internet. Children could generate a list of new computer terms. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 22, 2016. Children could learn more at:

Mary Downing Hahn (born College Park, Maryland, 1937) writes for children. Author of around 30 books, she is most known for Wait till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story. Stepping on the Cracks won the 1992 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Closed for the Season received the 2010 Edgar Award. Children could visit her site and hear her read portions of one of her books at:

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Dec 102016

Melvil Dewey (born Adams Center, New York, 1851; died Highlands County, Florida, December 26, 1931) created the Dewey decimal book classification system. He advocated the use of the metric system as well. You can read some of his works at:

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (born Amherst, Massachusetts, 1830; died Amherst, Massachusetts, May 15, 1886) was a poet. A very shy individual, she rarely traveled. Only a few of her poems were published during her lifetime. After her death, her sister Lavinia found hundred of poems among her effects. Lavinia was able to publish some of the poems. People appreciated Dickinson’s work and more poems were issued. About 1,775 poems have been published, and Emily Dickinson is now regarded as one of America’s best poets. Children can find many of her poems at:

Cornelia Funke (born Dorsten, Germany, 1958) writes fantasy and adventure stories for children. Her books include Dragon Rider, The Thief Lord, and the Inkheart Trilogy. Children could visit her absolutely amazing website at:

Ada Lovelace (born London, United Kingdom, 1815; died Marylebone, United Kingdom, November 27, 1852) was a mathematician. She is best known for her work regarding Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Some experts credit her with being the first computer programmer. Children could read Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science by Diane Stanley.

Mary Norton (born London, England, 1903; died Hartland, England, August 29, 1992) was a children’s author. One of her most famous works is Bedknobs and Broomsticks, published in 1957. She also wrote several books about the Borrowers. Children could learn more at:

Ernest Howard Shepard (born London, United Kingdom, 1879; died London, United Kingdom, March 24, 1976) was an artist and illustrator of children’s books. He illustrated Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh. Children can learn more at:

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Dec 112016

Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon (born Dover, Delaware, 1863; died Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 13, 1941) was an astronomer. She did locate several hundred new stars. However, she is best known for cataloging and classifying more than 225,000 stars. She developed a system that used the letters O, B, A, F, G, K, and M. O=blue stars (the hottest stars), B=blue-white stars, A=white stars, F=yellow-white stars, G=yellow stars, K=orange stars, M= red stars (the coolest stars). People have created a mnemonic device to remember the order: Oh Be a Fine Girl, Kiss Me. Children could read Annie Jump Cannon, Astronomer, written by Carole Gerber and illustrated by Christina Wald.

Robert Koch (born Clausthal, Germany, 1843; died Baden-Baden, Germany, May 27, 1910) was one of the earliest bacteriologists. He discovered the specific bacteria that cause tuberculosis, anthrax, cholera, and other diseases. He also conducted experiments on sleeping sickness. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1905 for his studies regarding tuberculosis. Children could read Robert Koch and the Study of Anthrax by Kathleen Tracy. Perhaps a nurse could visit and discuss the importance of getting rid of bacteria.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn (born Kislovodsk, USSR, 1918; died Moscow, Russia, August 3, 2008) was a Russian author, activist, and dissident. One of his best known works is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Dec 122016

William Lloyd Garrison (born Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1805; died New York, New York, May 24, 1879) was an abolitionist and a writer. He was the editor of The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper. Following the Civil War and the end of slavery, he became a proponent of women’s rights.

John Jay (born New York, New York, 1745; died Bedford, New York, May 17, 1829) was a diplomat and a writer. He co-authored the Federalist papers and was the first chief justice of the Supreme Court. Children could learn more at:

Edvard Munch (born Loten, Norway, 1863; died Ekely, Norway, January 23, 1944) was an artist. He is known for The Scream, created in 1893. Older teenagers might want to visit the Munch portion of the Google Art Project at:

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Dec 132016

Lucia Gonzalez (born Caimito, Cuba, 1957) is a children’s author, librarian, and storyteller. Her The Bossy Gallito received the 1995 Pura Belpré Literature Honor Award. She also wrote The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos, a bilingual book about Pura Belpré. It earned the 2008 Pura Belpré Children’s Literature Honor Medal.

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln (born Lexington, Kentucky, 1818; died Springfield, Illinois, July 16, 1882) was the wife of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States. The attractive daughter of a rich and prominent southern family, she married the impoverished Lincoln in 1842. They had four sons. Most of her life seemed riddled with agitation. While First Lady, she was criticized for her extravagance. Her husband and three of her four sons died during her lifetime. Children could learn more at:

The Little Island

The Little Island

Leonard Weisgard (born New Haven Connecticut, 1916; died Denmark, January 14, 2000) was an author and/or illustrator of more than 200 books. He illustrated Margaret Wise Brown’s The Little Island and received the 1948 Caldecott Medal. Children could visit a website devoted to him and view the long list of books he illustrated at:

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Dec 142016

James Harold Doolittle (born Alameda, California, 1896; died Pebble Beach, California, September 27, 1993) was an aviator and military hero. As a young man, he was the first person to fly across North America in under a day. During World War II, he led the first aerial raid on five cities in Japan. He also spearheaded the Eighth Air Force for the Normandy invasion.

Margaret Madeline Chase Smith

Margaret Madeline Chase Smith (born Skowhegan, Maine, 1897; died Skowhegan, Maine, May 29, 1995) was the first female to be elected to both the House of Representatives (1941) and to the Senate (1949). Children could find out how the requirements for being a representative differ from those of being a senator.

Tycho Brahe (born Scania, then part of Denmark but today part of Sweden, 1546; died Prague, then part of the Holy Roman Empire, October 24, 1601) was an astronomer and alchemist. The telescope had not yet been invented. However, he used the best instruments then available to make great contributions to the field of astronomy. He recorded planetary motions, observed a supernova, and mathematically concluded that comets were farther away from earth than the moon. He was not always correct in his work, but he provided the foundation for other great astronomers. Here is an interesting fact. In a duel (over an astronomical concept) he lost all or part of his nose. After the duel he wore a fake nose made out of metal.

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Dec 152016

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (born Dijon, France, 1832; died Paris, France, December 23, 1923) was a French architect and engineer. He designed bridges, train stations, and churches. However, he is most famous for designing the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Toward the end of his life, he devoted himself to studying aerodynamics and meteorology. Children could learn more about the Eiffel Tower at:

Betty Smith (born Brooklyn, New York, 1896; died Shelton, Connecticut, January 17, 1972) was an author. She wrote, among other works, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. 

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