National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 through October 15 by Presidential Proclamation. President Gerald Ford expanded the celebration from a week to a month in 1974. September 15 was picked as the beginning because five Latin American countries, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, celebrate their independence on that day. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence within a few days.
The Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared their independence from Spain in 1821.
Costa Rica, about the size of West Virginia, has a population of about 4.7 million people. The country, which exports bananas, pineapples, and coffee, has four active volcanoes. San José is the capital.
El Salvador, slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts, has a population of 6.1 million people. It exports coffee, sugar, and textiles. It is the only Central American country that does not have a coastline on the Caribbean Sea. San Salvador is the capital.
Guatemala, slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee, has a population of 14.3 million people. It exports sugar, coffee, and petroleum. Mountains cover most of the country, and Guatemala City is the capital.
Honduras, slightly larger than the state of Tennessee, is home to 8.5 million people. The country often experiences hurricanes along the Caribbean coast. It exports textiles, shrimp, and coffee. Tegucigalpa is the capital.
Nicaragua, a bit smaller than the state of New York, has a population of 5.8 million people. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua exports beef, coffee, gold, and sugar. Managua is the capital.
John Bull locomotive operated for the first time in 1831 for the Camden and Amboy Railroad in New Jersey. Built in Great Britain, the train engine was used until 1885 when it was purchased by the Smithsonian Institute. On September 15, 1981, celebrating its 150 year anniversary, the John Bull became the oldest working locomotive when it traveled several miles on train tracks on its own power. Later in 1985 it became the oldest locomotive to travel by air when it took a plane ride to Dallas, Texas, to be part of an exhibit. Today it is on static display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
Cassini Space Probe ended in 2017 when it was de-orbited above Saturn and was destroyed in Saturn’s atmosphere. The Cassini Huygens unmanned mission was launched on October 15, 1997. The Cassini-Huygens mission was a joint venture of the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, and NASA. Cassini was supposed to be viable only until 2008. However, it continued to send back valuable data about various planets and Saturn’s moons and rings. Scientists had it perform a “Grand Finale” where it threaded its way between Saturn and the planet’s inner rings. That final set of maneuvers provided maximum information regarding Saturn. Children could read some amazing Cassini facts at: Cassini Quick Facts.
Mabel Bragg (born Milford, Massachusetts, 1870; died April 25, 1945) wrote children’s books. Some experts have attributed her to be the author of The Little Engine That Could. However, others feel that Arnold Munk, a publisher using the pseudonym Watty Piper, wrote the book. Still others believe the story to be a version found in folk literature.
Agatha Christie (born Torquay, England, 1890; died Wallingford, England, January 12, 1976) was a writer, best known for her mysteries. Older children can read two of her books at: Project Gutenberg.
James Fenimore Cooper (born Burlington, New Jersey, 1789; died Cooperstown, New York, September 14, 1851) was a writer and a historian. Two of his most famous works are The Last of the Mohicans and The Pathfinder. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg. Children can learn more at: James Fenimore Cooper.
Tomie dePaola (born Meriden, Connecticut, 1934) has written and/or illustrated over 250 books for children. He received a 1976 Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona, a 2002 Newbery Honor Award for 26 Fairmount Avenue, and the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his body of work. Children could visit his website at: Tomie DePaola.
Robert McCloskey (born Hamilton, Ohio, 1914; died Deer Isle, Maine, June 30, 2003) was a children’s author and illustrator. He earned two Caldecott Medals: one in 1942 for Make Way for Ducklings and one in 1958 for Time of Wonder. He also received three Caldecott Honor Awards: one in 1949 for Blueberries for Sal, in 1953 for One Morning in Maine, and one in 1954 for JohnnyCake, Ho! His book Make Way for Ducklings is now the official state children’s book for Massachusetts. Children can learn more at: Robert McCloskey.
William Howard Taft (born Cincinnati, Ohio, 1857; died Washington. D. C., March 8, 1930) was the twenty-seventh president (1909-1913) of the United States. He weighed over three hundred pounds. In 1900 he was in charge of the Philippines. In 1904 Theodore Roosevelt made Taft Secretary of War. He was president of the country during a difficult period. After he concluded his term as president, he became a Supreme Court Justice in 1921. Children could visit a website at: William Howard Taft. Idea: Taft was the only president who also served on the Supreme Court. Children could locate more presidential facts and create a trivia game.