Today is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. The solstice will occur today at 11:28 AM Eastern Standard Time. The word solstice means “the sun stands still.” The amount of daylight is shortest and the amount of darkness is the most for the whole year today in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the amount of daylight is the longest, and the amount of darkness is the shortest. Different cultures mark the day in different ways. Children could read about some of those celebrations in The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Caroline McVicker Edwards.
Phileas Fogg won his wager in 1872. The main character of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days returned to the Reform Club in London under the time limit of 80 days. He won the bet of 20,000 pounds. Could children find out how much 20,000 pounds was in dollars in 1872? Children can read Around the World in Eighty Days at: Project Gutenberg
First crossword puzzle was created in 1913 by Arthur Wynne and published in the New York World newspaper. He called his puzzle Word-cross, but the name soon changed to Crossword. The puzzle was an immediate success, and he began publishing weekly puzzles. Soon readers were sending in their own crossword puzzles. Children can see the first crossword puzzle and read more about it at: http://www.crosswordtournament.com/more/wynne.html. They can get involved with all kinds of puzzles at: http://www.puzzlechoice.com/pc/Kids_Choicex.html
Apollo 8 was launched in 1968. Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to leave earth’s orbit, orbit the moon, and return to earth safely. One of the main goals was to view the dark side of the moon. Commander Frank Borman, Lunar Module Pilot William Anders, and Command Module Pilot James Lovell orbited around the moon on December 24 and returned to earth on December 27. On Christmas Eve they broadcast live from space and read the first ten verses of Genesis. The television show was the most watched program at that time.
Benjamin Disraeli (born London, England, 1804; died London, England, April 19, 1881) was an English politician and writer. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1837. He was the country’s prime minister in 1868 and from 1874 to 1880.
Susan Pearson (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1946) has written 35 children’s books. A favorite is How to Teach a Slug to Read. Children can view her website at: Susan Pearson
Roger Williams (born London, England, circa 1603; died Providence, Rhode Island, April 18, 1683) was a colonial theologian who believed in freedom of religion. He was banished from the Massachusetts Colony in 1636. He and his followers bought land from the Native Americans and founded the colony of Providence.