“A Visit from Saint Nicholas” was published in 1823. Also known as “‘Twas the Night before Christmas,” the poem was at first published anonymously. However, most experts feel Clement Clarke Moore wrote it. Four handwritten copies of the poem exist. Today this poem is one of the most well known verses in the United States. It has been quoted or parodied numerous times. Children can read the book and examine the illustrations at: Project Gutenberg. Children can read more about the poem at: America’s Library.
Japan celebrates a national holiday, the birthday of Emperor Akihito. The country is composed of a series of mountainous islands. The total area is about the area of California. About 127 million people live in Japan, and Tokyo is the capital. Emperor Akihito was born in 1933.
Maryland in 1788 donated ten square miles of land to the United States. This land became part of the District of Columbia. Our Founding Fathers wanted to establish a new capital, rather than use an existing city such as New York or Philadelphia. The Residence Act gave George Washington the authority to decide where to locate the new nation’s capital. The Maryland land was in about the middle of the country at that time. Children can view the documents that made the District of Columbia possible at: District of Columbia.
Jacquard loom was patented in 1801 by Joseph Marie Jacquard. This loom could easily weave very complex patterns. Jacquard used a series of punched cards to tell the loom what to do. This idea was adapted to instructions for early computers. Children could view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwozgRPLVC8 to see how the Jacquard loom worked and to view some early computer punch cards.
Transistor was invented in 1947 by John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain at Bell Laboratories. They received the 1956 physics Nobel Prize for their creation. Children could go to: Transistor to read LOTS of information and view photos of transistors. Transistors made everything from radios to computers to factory equipment smaller, smarter, and more powerful.
Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1986 made the first flight around the world without refueling. For 216 hours the Voyager flew, traveling over 26,000 miles. The plane lifted off from Edwards Air Force Base on December 14th. Because it was carrying so much fuel, it barely lifted off before it reached the end of the runway. Cramped quarters and frequent weather problems, including a typhoon, made piloting difficult. The plane and pilots returned to Andrews Air Force Base to thousands of spectators and reporters. The plane is now in the Air and Space Museum.
Avi (born Edward Irving Wortis in New York, New York, 1937) has written over 70 books for children and teenagers. An extremely versatile writer, he can engage younger children as well as young adults, and his works include historical fiction, fantasy, and mysteries. He received a 1991 Newbery Honor Award for The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and a 1992 Newbery Honor Award for Nothing but the Truth. His Crispin: The Cross of Lead received the 2003 Newbery Medal. Children can visit his website at: Avi.
Jean-Francois Champollion (born Figeac, France, 1790; died Paris, France, March 4, 1832) solved the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics. He and Thomas Young were both trying to be the first person to use the Rosetta Stone to decode hieroglyphics. Champollion won. Children can read Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics, by James Rumford. They can also visit: Rosetta Stone to learn more about Champollion and the Rosetta Stone.
Keiko Kasza (born on a small island in the Sea of Japan, 1951) is a writer and illustrator. One of her books is A Mother for Choco. Children can visit her website at: Keiko Kasza.