International Children’s Book Day honors Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. The International Board on Books for Young Readers (IBBY) sponsors the event. Children could learn more at: http://www.ibby.org/index.php?id=269.
Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida in 1513. He had been on Columbus’s second voyage to the New World. Later he was commissioned by King Ferdinand to find Bimini, a legendary island that held the fountain of youth. At first Ponce de Leon thought Florida was an island. Because the area grew such lush vegetation, Ponce de Leon named it Florida, meaning full of flowers. He was killed by natives in 1521 when he tried to return to Florida to establish a colony. Children can learn more at: Ponce de Leon.
First United States mint was established in Philadelphia in 1792. It produced silver half-dismes and dismes (now spelled dimes). The mint is still active, and other mints are functioning in Denver and San Francisco. Children could visit the mint’s website, particularly the games section, at: usmint.gov/kids. Idea: Children could debate the idea of eliminating the production of the penny.
Hans Christian Andersen (born Odense, Denmark, 1805; died Copenhagen, Denmark, August 4, 1875) wrote 168 stories and fairy tales. The son of a poor shoemaker, he moved to Copenhagen when he was 14. He wrote his first story in 1835. Famous stories include The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Ugly Duckling. He never married. In Denmark people celebrate birthdays by displaying banners. Students could make banners of Andersen’s various stories. Children can read his stories in a variety of languages at: Project Gutenberg. The Hans Christian Andersen Award, created by the International Board on Books for Young People, is bestowed every two years to the world’s best writers and illustrators of children’s books. Readers could learn more about Hans Christian Andersen and the Han Christian Andersen Award by reading the Children’s Book Award Handbook by Diana F. Marks.
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (born Colmar, Alsace, 1834; died Paris, France, October 4, 1904) designed the Statue of Liberty and actively raised funds for its construction.
Richard Bassett (born Cecil County, Maryland, 1745; died Maryland, either August 16 or September 15, 1815) represented Delaware at the Constitutional Convention. A former slave owner, he fought in the Revolutionary War. He served in the US Senate from 1789 to 1793. His son-in-law, grandson, and great-grandson also were elected to the US Senate. Children could learn more at: Richard Bassett.
Charlemagne (born birthplace unknown, 742; died Aauchen in what is now Germany, August 18, 814) became the ruler of the Franks in 768 and thus controlled Western Europe. Before he seized power, Europe was crumbling. “Charles the Great” restored the importance of education, arts, culture, law and order.
Ruth Heller (born Winnipeg, Canada, 1923; died San Francisco, California, July, 2004) wrote and illustrated books for children. She created at least 28 coloring books, and her children’s books include Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones and Galapagos Means Tortoises. One classic is The Egyptian Cinderella. Children could learn more at: Ruth Heller.
Anne Mazer (born Schenectady, New York, 1953) has written at least 45 books for children. Her books include The Salamander Room and The Oxboy. Children could visit her website at: Anne Mazer.
Amy Schwartz (born San Diego, California, 1954; died Brooklyn, New York, February 26, 2023) wrote and illustrated more than 60 books for children. Her books were humorous and relatable. Her books include A Teeny Tiny Baby and I Can’t Wait.
Johannes Gutenberg used movable type for the first time in 1451. Prior to his invention, monks and copyists copied books by hand. Therefore, books were rare and expensive. He cast his type from sand molds and adapted woodcut presses to hold his type. Gutenberg is most remembered for his 42-line Bibles, called such because each page was 42 lines long. About 40 such Bibles remain and are extremely valuable. Children could learn more at: Gutenberg.
Pony Express had its first run in 1860. Prior to the Pony Express, a letter took three weeks to make its way across country. William Guin and William Russell started the Pony Express to speed up the delivery of mail. They hired 80 riders, bought 400 horses, and established 190 stations. The riders, mostly teenagers, had to be light weight and in excellent shape. They rode day and night and in all kinds of weather. A letter carried via the Pony Express left St. Joseph, Missouri and arrived in Sacramento, California (1,966 miles) in ten days. The Pony Express ended in October 26, 1861, two days after the telegraph started. Children could write “journals” as if they were the actual riders. They could describe their “adventures.” Children could also learn more at: Pony Express.
First cell phone call was made in 1973. Martin Cooper, a Motorola executive, used the DynaTAC, which was called the “Brick.” The phone was 8 inches by 1.5 inches by 4 inches. It weighed 2.5 pounds. Children can listen to Martin Cooper explain the event at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMbGrakUHc4
Sandra Boynton (born Orange, New Jersey, 1953) has written and illustrated at least 50 books, most of them for young children. Her books include Amazing Cows, Happy Birthday, Little Pookie, and the wonderful board book Snuggle Puppy.
John Burroughs (born Roxbury, New York, 1837; died Kingsville, Ohio, March 29, 1921) was a writer and naturalist. He wrote at least 32 books over 50 years on such topics as Ways of Nature and The Breath of Life. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg.
Jane Goodall (born London, England, 1934) is an anthropologist. She studied the behavior of wild chimpanzees for a number of years. Idea: Have students read about her observation techniques, choose a pet or a wild animal, and make observations similar to Goodall’s technique. Children could also read Me…Jane, a biography written by Patrick McDonnell.
Edward Everett Hale (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1822; died Boston, Massachusetts, June 10, 1909) was a clergyman and a writer. He is most famous for his story, “The Man Without a Country.” He also served as chaplain of the United States Senate from 1903 until he died. Children can read some of his work, including “The Man Without a Country,” at: Project Gutenberg.
Washington Irving (born New York, New York, 1783; died Tarrytown, New York, November 28, 1859) may have been one of the first great American writers and historians. His writings include The Sketch Book (containing “Rip van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), Tales of a Traveller, The Life of Washington, and The Alhambra. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg. They can also learn more at: Washington Irving.
Earl Lloyd (born Alexandria, Virginia, 1928; died Crossville, Tennessee, February 26, 2015) was the First African American to play for the NBA. His debut occurred October 31, 1950, when he played for the Washington Capitols at a game held in Rochester, New York. He went on to play 560 games in nine seasons. He then became the first African American assistant basketball coach and was head coach for the Detroit Pistons. Children could learn more at: Earl Lloyd.
International Carrot Day is celebrated today. Started in 2003, the day honors the healthy and versatile vegetable. While the majority of carrots consumed are orange, varieties of carrots are red, purple, white, and even black. The carrot is a root vegetable, but the tops can be eaten as greens. The vegetable can be prepared in a variety of ways, from carrot slaw to carrot cake. Carrots provide many vitamins and minerals, but they are especially high in Vitamin A.
Children, knowing that a carrot is a root, could classify different vegetables as to what parts we eat. They could list other roots, such as turnips and parsnips. They could list stem vegetables, tuber vegetables, leafy vegetables, and even vegetables that are really fruits, such as squash and peppers.