Netherlands celebrate King’s Day, a national holiday. King Willem-Alexander became the country’s monarch on April 30, 2013. The country celebrates his birthday on April 27. This European country bordering the North Sea is, according to the CIA World Factbook, about the size of New Jersey. The Dutch experience cool summers and mild winters. Almost 17 million people live there, and farmers grow grains, sugar beets, and potatoes. Amsterdam is the capital.
Togo celebrates Independence Day. It became free from France in 1960. This long, thin country (slightly smaller than West Virginia) is located on the southern coast of West Africa. The climate is tropical in the south and semiarid in the north. Togo exports cotton, cocoa, and coffee. About 7.1 million people reside in Togo. Lome, located on the coast, is the capital.
Sierra Leone celebrates Independence Day. In 1961 it broke away from the British government. Located on the western coast of Africa, this small country (about the size of South Carolina) has many diamond deposits. Its climate has a tropical, rainy season from May to December and a dry season from December to April. About 5.6 million people live there. Freetown is the capital.
South Africa celebrates Freedom Day when in 1994 general elections were held for the first time. Apartheid began to be a thing of the past. According to the CIA World Factbook, South Africa is about twice the size of Texas. The country has a mostly semiarid climate except along the tropical coast. About 48.6 million people live in the country. Agricultural products include corn, wheat, and sugarcane. The country exports diamonds, gold, and platinum. Pretoria is the capital.
Thor Heyerdahl set sail on the Kon-Tiki in 1947. He left Peru on a hand-made raft and arrived in Polynesia over one hundred days later. He proved that ancient mariners could have made long sea voyages to establish new colonies.
Ludwig Bemelmans (born Meran, Austria, 1898; died New York, New York, October 1, 1962) was an author and illustrator. He came to the United States in 1914 and found work as a busboy. Later he wrote books for an adult audience. However, he is most known for his children’s books, including the six Madeline books and all the further adventures of the little girl. In total he published about 46 books. His grandson, John Bemelmans-Marciano, has written five more Madeline books. Children could learn more at: Bemelmans.
John Burningham (born Farnham, Surrey, England, 1936) writes and illustrates books for children. Two of his books have received the Kate Greenaway Medal. Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers earned the 1963 medal, and Mr. Grumpy’s Outing received the 1970 medal. He wrote There’s Going to Be a New Baby in 2011, and his wife Helen Oxenbury illustrated the book.
Ulysses Simpson Grant (born Point Pleasant, Ohio, 1822; died Mt. McGregor, New York, July 23, 1885) was the eighteenth president (1869-1877) of the United States. Children could visit a website at: Grant. Idea: Grant was a famous Civil War general. Lee surrendered to him at Appomattox, Virginia, to end the war. Children could find out which other presidents were also military leaders. They could then decide whether a military leader made a good president.
Coretta Scott King (born Marion, Alabama, 1927; died Rosarito Beach, Mexico, January 30, 2006) was a speaker and writer. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., she continued the work of the civil rights movement. Children could read Coretta Scott King by Stephanie Sammertino McPherson. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards honor the finest African American children’s book writers and illustrators. Children could learn more at: http://www.ala.org/emiert/cskbookawards. They could also read the chapter devoted to Coretta Scott King and the Coretta Scott King Awards in Children’s Book Award Handbook by Diana F. Marks.
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (born Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1791; died New York, New York, April 2, 1872) was an inventor and an artist. He invented Morse code, and his first transmission, made on May 24, 1844, was, “What hath God wrought?” Idea: Children could learn about Morse code and send messages to each other. Children can learn more about Morse Code at: https://www.nsa.gov/kids/games/gameMorse.swf.
Nancy Shaw (born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1946) writes books for children. Her works include the Sheep series and Elena’s Story. Children can visit her site at: Nancy Shaw.