Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico and the United States. The Battle of Puebla took place in 1862. General Ignacio Zaragoza led his Mexican army, outnumbered three to one, against Napoleon III’s French forces. Zaragoza won. Speeches, festivals, and parades are held nationwide. Young children could read Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade. Idea: Children could have a Cinco de Mayo celebration. A piñata should be included.
Kentucky Derby is today! Also called “The Run for the Roses,” the Derby began in 1875. The track is 1.25 miles long, and the race lasts about two minutes. The race takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Children can learn more at: Kentucky Derby.
Mary Kies patented in 1809 a straw and silk weaving system. She was the first woman granted a patent. Children can read more at: Mary Kies.
Cy Young in 1904 pitched baseball’s first perfect game. He did not let any opposing player reach first base. The Cy Young Award for pitching honors him. Children can view a list of Cy Young Award winners at: Cy Young Awards.
Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her book of poetry, Annie Allen, described the life of an African American girl growing up during World War II.
Alan Shepard, aboard Freedom 7, became the first American and the second man to travel in space. The year was 1961. He traveled about 115 miles into space at 5,000 miles per hour.
Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, 1867; died New York, New York, January 22, 1922) was perhaps the leading female journalist of her time. She worked for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, reporting on working conditions, slum life and other topics. She moved to New York and worked on Pulitzer’s New York World. She pretended to be insane, and she was institutionalized. She then reported on the extreme conditions she found there. Perhaps her most exciting adventure came when she followed the route of Jules Verne’s imaginary Phileas Fogg and traveled around the world in 72 days. Children could listen to audio-copies of her books at: Project Gutenberg.
Children could also read Bonnie Christensen’s The Daring Nellie Bly: America’s Star Reporter.
J. Patrick Lewis (born Gary, Indiana, 1942) writes poetry and books for children. His books include the Tugg and Tiny series and What’s Looking at You, Kid? Children can learn more at: J. Patrick Lewis.
Leo Lionni (born Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1910; died Chianti, Italy, October 11, 1999) was an author and illustrator of over 40 books. He earned four Caldecott Honor Awards: Inch by Inch in 1961, Swimmy in 1964, Frederick in 1968, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse in 1970.
Todd Strasser (born New York, New York, 1950) has written more than 120 books for middle-grade children. His books include The Wave and Thief of Dreams. Children can learn more at: Todd Strasser.