George Washington gave the first State of the Union message in 1790. The Constitution requires that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Washington chose to deliver this message via a speech. So did John Adams. However, from Jefferson to Taft the messages were reports, often lengthy and detailed, delivered to Congress. Washington’s State of the Union message suggested that the military be strengthened and that a standard set of weights and measures be developed. Children can read his message, and find all the other State of the Union messages, at an amazing website: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29431
Battle of New Orleans took place in 1815. Great Britain and the United States were still fighting in the War of 1812. The battle began around December 12, 1814. The British wanted to seize New Orleans and control the Mississippi River region. Of course, the Americans wanted to retain ownership of the city and the river. General Andrew Jackson’s American troops crushed the British. However, both sides later found out that a peace treaty had been signed two weeks prior to the battle. Andrew Jackson became a real hero! Older children can read copies of original documents at: Archives. Children can also view the America’s Library site and listen to a rendition of “Eighth of January” at: Battle of New Orleans. Here is an interesting note about history. This battle was so popular in the United States, and Andrew Jackson became so popular in the United States, that January 8th was actually a national holiday as important as July 4th until around 1845!
Herman Hollerith patented his tabulating machine in 1889. This machine, instrumental in calculating census data, was a precursor to today’s computers. Children can view his patent at: http://www.google.com/patents/US395782. Idea: Children could make a timeline of inventions important to the development of the computer.
Lee J. Ames (born New York, New York, 1921; died Huntington, New York, June 3, 2011) was an artist and an illustrator. He illustrated and/or wrote about 180 books. Famous for his Draw 50…books, he also illustrated books written by many authors, including Isaac Asimov, Alvin Silverstein, and Herbert Spencer Zim.
Floyd Cooper (born Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1956) is an author and an illustrator. He received the 2009 Coretta Scott King Medal for illustrating The Blacker the Berry. He has also earned Coretta Scott King Honor Awards for illustrating Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes, Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea by Joyce Carol Thomas, and I Have Heard of a Land also by Joyce Carol Thomas.
Judith Bloom Fradin (born Chicago, Illinois, 1945) writes nonfiction books for children. Her books include The Power of One: Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine and Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy. She co-wrote many books with her husband, Dennis Brindel Fradin. He passed away not long ago. I hope she continues to write books that children so desperately need.
Stephen Hawking (born Oxford, England, 1942) is a theoretical physicist studying concepts on relativity and black holes. One of his most famous books is A Brief History of Time. He has written with his daughter, Lucy Hawking, three books for children, George and the Big Bang, George’s Secret Key to the Universe, and George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt. Children can read more about him at his website: http://www.hawking.org.uk/
Stephen Manes (born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1949) writes books for children. A former writer on computers and technology, Manes has written over 30 books for children. His books include How to Be a Perfect Person in Three Days and Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear. Older children can read more about him at: Stephen Manes
Elvis Presley (born Tupelo, Mississippi, 1935; died Memphis, Tennessee, August 16, 1977) was a rock and roll star and actor. His works include Jailhouse Rock and Heartbreak Hotel. He also acted in 27 movies. Idea: Have an Elvis impersonation event.
Elisabetta Sirani (born Bologna, Italy, 1638; died Bologna, Italy, August 28, 1665) was one of a handful of women painters of the time. She painted almost two hundred works of art and established a painting school for women. Children can view two of her works at: http://womeninthearts.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/artist-spotlight-elisabetta-sirani/