Cotton gin was patented by Eli Whitney in 1794. It changed the way cotton was raised and processed in the southeastern United States. Prior to the gin, slaves had to hand separate the cotton fibers from cotton seeds and debris. The cotton gin processed the separation ten times faster. More cotton could therefore be played, and unfortunately more slaves would be needed. Children could glean many more details at: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/cotton-gin-patent/. Children could watch an animation as to how the cotton gin works at: http://www.eliwhitney.org/cotton.htm.
Mary Azarian (born Washington, DC, 1940) is an illustrator, working with woodcuts. She has illustrated over 50 children’s books and won the 1999 Caldecott Medal for Snowflake Bentley. Children can visit her website to view beautiful works of art as well as covers of many of her books at: Mary Azarian.
Miriam Chaikin (born Jerusalem, December 8, 1928) writes for both children and adults. She received the 1985 Sydney Taylor Award for her body of work. Children might want to read Alexandra’s Scroll: The Story of the First Hanukkah, illustrated by Stephen Fieser. They might want to view Chaikin’s website: Miriam Chaikin.
Padraic Colum (born Ireland, 1881; died Enfield, Connecticut, January 11, 1972) wrote plays and at least 61 books. He is most known for his children’s books. He earned a 1926 Newbery Honor Award for The Voyagers: Being Legends and Romances of Atlantic Discovery. He also received a 1934 Newbery Honor Award for Big Tree of Bunlahy: Stories of My Own Countryside. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg.
Horace (born 65 B.C.; died 8 B.C.) was a great poet during ancient Roman times. Although his father had been a slave, Horace was well educated and a member of the army. Later, a wealthy friend recognized Horace’s talents and supported him. Horace was free from financial worries and could write. One of his most famous works is Odes. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg.
Diego Rivera (born Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886; died Mexico City, Mexico, November 25, 1957) was an artist known for his large murals. He worked in earth tones and celebrated the common people. Rivera made very large murals. Perhaps the children could plan and complete a very large but temporary mural in chalk on the playground. Children can see many of his works at the Google Art Project at: http://www.googleartproject.com/artist/diego-rivera/4126047/. They can also read Diego Rivera: His World and Ours, by Duncan Tonatiuh. This book won the 2012 Pura Belpré Award for best illustrations.
James Grover Thurber (born Columbus, Ohio, 1894; died New York, New York, November 2, 1961) was a writer and cartoonist. Much of his work appeared in The New Yorker magazine. One of his most famous short stories is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” He wrote several books for children, including Many Moons, which earned the 1944 Caldecott Medal for illustrator Louis Slobodkin. Other children’s books include The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O. Children can learn more about Thurber at: James Thurber.
Edwin Tunis (born Cold Springs, New York, 1897; died Baltimore, Maryland, August 7, 1973) wrote books for children. He received a Newbery Honor Award in 1962 for Frontier Living. Children can learn more at: Edwin Tunis.
Eli Whitney (born Westborough, Massachusetts, 1765; died New Haven, Connecticut, January 8, 1825) was an inventor. He invented the cotton gin in 1793. It could clean as much cotton as fifty people could clean. Even though he had patented the cotton gin, other manufacturers made copies of his work. He fought them in the courts over years of trials. He also made muskets with interchangeable parts for the United States military. In 1798 he made 10,000 guns. Children can read more about Whitney at the Eli Whitney Museum: Eli Whitney.