Mar 012019

Glenn Miller (born Clarinda, Iowa, 1904; disappeared over the English Channel, December 15, 1944) was a bandleader and a composer. His big band sound was especially popular before and during World War II. He was on a flight to Paris to perform for troops when his plane vanished.

Slayton is in the first row, second from left

Slayton is in the first row, second from left

Donald “Deke” Slayton (born Sparta, Wisconsin, 1924; died League City, Texas, June 13, 1993) was one of the original seven astronauts. A heart condition kept him from traveling in space for some time, and he became chief of flight operations. In 1971 the heart condition disappeared, and he flew on the last Apollo mission. His crew docked for the first time with a Soviet Soyuz vessel. Children can learn more at: Deke Slayton.

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Mar 022019

Leo Dillon (born Brooklyn, New York, 1933; died Brooklyn, New York, May 26, 2012) was a picture book illustrator with wife Diane Dillon. He illustrated among other works Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale (Caldecott Medal), published in 1975. Children can learn more at: Leo Dillon.

Sam Houston

Sam Houston

Sam Houston (born Rockbridge County, Virginia, 1793; died Huntsville, Texas, July 26, 1863) is one of Texas’s greatest heroes. He defeated General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. He was elected to the United States Senate and served as governor of Texas until 1861 when he declined to swear allegiance to the Confederacy. Children can learn more at: Sam Houston.

Marjorie Blain Parker (born Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1960) writes books for children. Her books include Jasper’s Day and When Dads Don’t Grow Up. Children can visit her website at: Marjorie Blain Parker.

Dr. Seuss (born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1902; died La Jolla, California, September 24, 1991) was an author and an illustrator. He wrote among other works Green Eggs and Ham, published in 1960. His birthday is celebrated by the Read Across America program. Children could visit a website at: They could make and eat green eggs by adding a few drops of green food coloring to scrambled eggs before cooking the eggs.

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Mar 032019

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell (born Edinburgh, Scotland, 1847; died Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Scotland, August 2, 1922) invented the telephone. He also investigated causes of deafness. Children can learn more at: Alexander Graham Bell.

Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee (born East St. Louis, 1962) is an Olympic gold medalist in the heptathlon. She received the gold medal in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. Sports Illustrated named her female athlete of the century.

Suse MacDonald (born Evanston, Illinois, 1940) writes and illustrates books for children. Her wonderful book Alphabatics received a 1987 Caldecott Honor Award. Children can visit her website, especially her Just for Kids page, at: Suse MacDonald.

Patricia MacLachlan (born Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1938) is a children’s author of at least 23 books. She wrote among other works Sarah, Plain and Tall, which received the 1986 Newbery Medal, the 1986 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and the 1986 Golden Kite Award.

George Pullman (born Brocton, New York, 1831; died Chicago, Illinois, October 19, 1897) invented the Pullman sleeping car for the railroad.

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Mar 042019

Meindert DeJong (born Weirum, Netherlands, 1906; died Allegan, Michigan, July 16, 1991) wrote books for children. He received numerous awards for his books, including one Newbery Medal (for The Wheel on the School) and four Newbery Honor Awards (Shadrach in 1954, Hurry Home, Candy in 1954, The House of Sixty Fathers in 1957, and Along Came a Dog in 1959). In 1962 he was the first American to win the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Children can read more about him at: Meindert DeJong.

Prince Henry the Navigator (born Portugal, 1394; died Portugal, November 13, 1460) encouraged and expanded exploration of Africa and other lands. He planned more than fifty expeditions, but he never went on any of these trips himself. He brought in experts in cartography, astronomy and mathematics. Through his work, Portugal became a leading force in exploration.

Dav Pilkey (born Cleveland, Ohio, 1966) is an author. He writes the Captain Underpants series. Children could visit his site at:

Casimir Pulaski

Casimir Pulaski (born Winiary, Mazovia, Poland, 1747; died on the warship Wasp, October 11, 1779) was a military leader in his native Poland. He came to America after Poland was partitioned. He became a hero during the Revolutionary War. Pulaski was mortally wounded during the siege of Savannah.

Peggy Rathmann (born Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1953) is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her Officer Buckle and Gloria received the Caldecott Medal in 1996. Children can visit a website at: Peggy Rathmann. Idea: Students, like Officer Buckle, could make a list of safety tips.

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Mar 052019

Mem Fox (born Melbourne, Australia, 1946) is an author. Her books include Yoo Hoo, Ladybug! and Goodnight, Sleep Tight. Children could visit a website at: Mem Fox.

James Merritt Ives (born New York, New York, 1824; died 1895) was part of the lithographic team of Currier and Ives. They published more than four thousand different scenes of events ranging from the commonplace to historic. At the time, the prints were used for decoration or book illustration. Now originals are rare and expensive. Children can view many of the works of Currier and Ives at: Currier and Ives.

Gerhardus Mercator (born Rupelmonde, Flanders, 1512; died Duisburg, Germany, December 2, 1594) invented the Mercator projection for maps. He was able to portray more accurately the earth on a flat piece of paper. He also used the term atlas for the first time to refer to a compilation of maps. Because the Mercator Projection distorts the size of land masses at the poles, it is seldom used today. What kind of projection is most used today?

Howard Pyle (born Wilmington, Delaware, 1853; died Florence, Italy, November 9, 1911) was an illustrator. Children can read more about Pyle and then see many of his illustrations at: Illustrations. They can also learn more at: Howard Pyle.

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Mar 062019
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (born near Durham, England, 1806; died Florence, Italy, June 29, 1861) was a poet. One of her most famous works is Sonnets from the Portuguese. She was married to Robert Browning, also a famous poet. One of her most famous lines is “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Children can read her works at: Project Gutenberg.

L. Gordon Cooper

L. Gordon Cooper

L. Gordon Cooper (born Shawnee, Oklahoma, 1927; died Ventura, California, October 4, 2004) was an astronaut. One of the original seven astronauts, he was launched into space on the last Mercury mission. He logged more hours in space than the other six astronauts combined. He was the first astronaut to sleep in space (the mission was 34 hours long). He also flew on the Gemini 5 mission with Pete Conrad. They were in space for eight days and circled the earth 120 times.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (born Aracataca, Colombia, 1927; died Mexico City, Mexico, April 17, 2014) was a writer. His books include One Hundred Years of Solitude and Living to Tell the Tale. He received the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Anna Claypoole Peale (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1791; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 25, 1878) was an artist. She was a part of the famous Peale family of artists, and she specialized in painting miniatures and still life works. Children can see four of her works at: Anna Claypoole Peale.

Chris Raschka (born Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, 1959) writes and illustrates books for children. His book Yo! Yes? received a 1994 Caldecott Honor Award. His Hello, Goodbye Window received the 2006 Caldecott Medal, and A Ball for Daisy earned him the 2012 Caldecott Medal. Children can learn more about his illustrating process by viewing:

Michelangelo (born Caprese, Italy, 1475; died Rome, Italy, February 18, 1564) was an artist, an architect, and a poet. Among his accomplishments are the painting of the Sistine Chapel and the sculpture David. Visit a website at: Michelangelo. Idea: Children could learn about the rivalry between Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

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Mar 072019

Russet Potatoes

Luther Burbank (born Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1849; died Santa Rosa, California, April 11, 1926) developed 800 new types of fruits, vegetables and flowers. He created plants that increased quality and quantity of yield. The russet Burbank potato was one of his big successes; that type of potato is the leading tuber in food processing. Children could grow their own potato plants:
1. Punch two small holes in the bottom of five paper cups.
2. Fill the paper cups about a third full with potting soil.
3. Cut a potato into sections so that each section has an eye in it.
4. Place one potato section into each paper cup and add soil to almost fill the paper cup.
5. Place the cups on an old tray with a lip. Water, and place tray where it will receive sunlight.
6. Water and soon potato vines will appear! When Mother’s Day comes along, plant the vines outside. In the fall check for potatoes in the soil.

Janet Guthrie (born Iowa City, Iowa, 1938) is a former race car driver. She is the first woman to qualify and race in the Daytona 500 and the Indie 500. Children can visit her website at: Janet Guthrie.

Stephen Hopkins (born Providence, Rhode Island, 1707; died Providence, Rhode Island, July 13, 1785) was a governor of the colony of Rhode Island and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1764 he wrote a pamphlet called “The Rights of Colonies Examined” in response to the Stamp Act. The second oldest signer of the Declaration, he had to support his right hand with his left hand when he wrote his signature. He stated, “My hand trembles, but my heart does not.”

Piet Mondrian (born Amersfoort, the Netherlands, 1872; died New York, New York, February 1, 1944) was an artist. He is most known for his abstract studies of color. Children could view some of his works at: Piet Mondrian.

Maurice Ravel (born Cibourne, France, 1875; died Paris, France, December 28, 1937) was a composer. One of his most famous works is Bolero, a ballet composed in 1928. Idea: Play some of his music to the class and tell students to listen for the Spanish influences or the jazz overtones.

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Mar 082019

Howard Hathaway Aiken (born Hoboken, New Jersey, 1900; died St. Louis, Missouri, March 14, 1973) invented the digital computer.

Hannah Hoes Van Buren
Library of Congress

Hannah Hoes Van Buren (born Kinderhook, New York, 1783; died Albany, New York, February 5, 1819) was the first wife of Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States. She died from tuberculosis before he was elected to office. Children could visit a website at: Hannah Hoes Van Buren.

Kenneth Grahame (born Edinburgh, Scotland, 1859; died Pangbourne, Berkshire, England, July 6, 1932) was an author. Idea: He is most known for his book Wind in the Willows. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon. Children can read his works at: Project Gutenberg. They can also learn more at: Kenneth Grahame.

Oliver Wnedell Holmes Jr

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1841; died Washington, DC, March 6, 1935) was one of the most important judges America has had. He was the son of Oliver Wendell Holmes, a distinguished writer. He fought in the Civil War and was wounded three times. He became a lawyer and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt. He served on the Supreme Court for almost thirty years. Idea: Students could read more about his philosophy and his court decisions.

Robert Sabuda (born Wyandotte, Michigan, 1965) writes and illustrates books for children. He is known for his pop-up books. He has written and/or illustrated at least 38 books. His books include The Mummy’s Tomb and The Knight’s Castle. Children can learn how to make different pop-ups at: Robert Sabuda.

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Mar 092019

Harry Bliss (born Rochester, New York, 1964) is a cartoonist and an illustrator of children’s books. He illustrated Sharon Creech’s A Fine, Fine School and Doreen Cronin’s Diary of a Worm.

Bobby Fischer (born Chicago, Illinois, 1943; died Reykjavik, Iceland, January 17, 2008) was a world chess champion from 1972 to 1975.

Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin (born Gzhatsk, Russia, 1934; died in a plane crash near Moscow, Russia, March 27, 1968) was the first man to travel in space. His spacecraft completed one complete orbit of the earth on April 12, 1961. He was instantly famous, and eventually he became involved in the training of other cosmonauts.

William Jackson (born Cumberland, England, 1759; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 17, 1828) fought in the Revolutionary War. However, he is most famous for serving as the secretary during the Constitutional Convention. He did not represent any of the thirteen states, but he kept minutes and maintained secrecy during the convention.

Ellen Levine (born New York, New York, March 9, 1939; died New York, New York, May 26, 2012) wrote around 20 books for children. Her book Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories received a 2001 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. She also wrote Henry’s Freedom Box. The illustrator, Kadir Nelson, received a 2008 Caldecott Honor Award for the artwork.

Amerigo Vespucci (born Florence, Italy, 1451; died Seville, Spain, February 22, 1512) was an Italian explorer. Even though Columbus reached the New World before Vespucci, the latter was the first to realize it was a new continent. Vespucci traveled at least twice to the New World around 1499 to 1502. Columbus continued to believe he had landed near India. Martin Waldseemuller, an early cartographer, named the new land America in honor of Amerigo Vespucci. Children could read Jean Fritz’s outstanding book, Around the World in a Hundred Years to learn more about Vespucci and Columbus.

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Mar 102019

Clare Boothe Luce (born New York, New York, 1903; died Washington, DC, October 9, 1987) was a writer and politician. She edited two magazines and wrote a number of plays. She was elected to the House of Representatives and was the first woman to be named ambassador to an important country. She was the U. S. ambassador to Italy from 1953 to 1956.

Lillian D. Wald (born Cincinnati, Ohio, 1867; died Westport, Connecticut, September 1, 1940) was a nurse and social worker. She founded the Henry Street Settlement. It became an important public health nursing center. She campaigned actively to make Congress create the United States Children’s Bureau. Children can learn more at: Lillian Wald. The Henry Street Settlement continues to operate.

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