Jan 012024

J. Edgar Hoover (born Washington, DC, 1895; died Washington, DC, May 2, 1972) was the director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972.

Thomas L. Jennings (born New York, New York, 1791; died New York, New York, February 13, 1856) was an inventor and businessman. He patented “dry scouring of clothes” in 1821. He became the first African American to receive a patent. He received Patent Number 3306X. Unfortunately his patent was lost in a fire, but experts believe the dry scouring was a form of dry cleaning. His process made him a successful businessman, and he spent much of his profits on the abolition movement.

Paul Revere

Paul Revere (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1735; died Boston, Massachusetts, May 10, 1818) became famous for warning the people of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, that the British were arriving for military purposes. In addition to being a patriot, Revere was a distinguished silversmith and metalworker. He also made tools for fine purposes, such as surgical instruments. Idea: Children could read Jean Fritz’s And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? Children could also read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s very famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” at: Paul Revere.

Betsy Ross (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1752; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 30, 1836) may have made the first American flag. Her grandson, in 1870, first proposed that Washington came to her with specifications for the flag. There is little evidence to show she did make the first flag, but no one has found facts that someone else sewed the first flag. Children could read Betsy Ross (Profiles in American History) by Susan Sales Harkins and William H. Harkins. Idea: Children could look at a copy of our first flag. They could research the significance of the red, white, and blue colors and the stars and stripes.

J. D. Salinger (born Jerome David Salinger in New York, New York, 1919; died Cornish, New Hampshire, January 27, 2010) was an author. One of his most famous books is Catcher in the Rye.

Melissa Sweet (born Wycoff, New Jersey, 1956) writes and illustrates books for children. She has earned two Caldecott Honor Awards: in 2009 for A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams and in 2015 for The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus. Both books were written by Jen Bryant. Children can learn more at: Melissa Sweet.

“Mad” Anthony Wayne (born Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, 1745; died Fort Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, December 15, 1796) was a hero during the Revolutionary War and continued to serve in the army after the war.

Jan 022024

Isaac Asimov (born Petrovichi, Russia, 1920; died New York, New York, April 6, 1992) wrote or edited more than 500 books. He was best known for his science fiction, but he also wrote about history and the world in general. One of his most well-known books is I, Robot. Idea: Children could find out how science fiction differs from other types of fiction. Then they could read a portion of a work by Isaac Asimov. Children and young adults can learn more at: Isaac Asimov.

Nathaniel Bacon (born Suffolk, England, 1647; died Virginia Colony, October 26, 1676) led Bacon’s Rebellion. The Virginia colonists were angry with the governor, Sir William Berkeley. They felt he was not properly protecting them from Native Americans. Nathaniel Bacon organized a group of people, and on September 19, 1676, they burned Jamestown in protest. Berkeley fled to a nearby ship. Bacon died unexpectedly of a fever, and the rebellion fell apart.

Crosby Bonsall (born Long Island, New York, 1921; died Boston, Massachusetts, January 10, 1995) wrote and illustrated more than 40 books for children. Her books include The Case of the Dumb Bells. Children could learn more about her at: Crosby Bonsall.

Helen Herron Taft

Helen Herron Taft (born Cincinnati, Ohio, 1861; died Washington, DC, May 22, 1943) was America’s First Lady from March 4, 1909 to March 4, 1913. She was the wife of William Howard Taft, twenty-seventh President of the United States. Nicknamed “Nellie,” she and her husband lived in the Philippines, Japan, Cuba, Panama, and Italy before he became president. Perhaps she is best known as the First Lady who oversaw the planting of the Japanese cherry trees along Independence Avenue. After Taft left the White House, he became a Supreme Court Justice, so she became the wife of a Supreme Court Justice. Children could visit a website at: Helen Herron Taft. Idea: Children could trace her travels on a map.

Jan 032024

Alma Flor Ada (born Camaguey, Cuba, 1938) has written over 200 books for children. Many of her works are bilingual. One of her books is Three Golden Oranges. She received the 2000 Pura Bel­pré Award for Under the Royal Palms. Children can visit her website at: Alma Flor Ada.

Cicero (born Rome, 106 BC; died Rome 43 BC) was a writer, politician, and philosopher. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg.

Grace Coolidge

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge (born Burlington, Vermont, 1879; died Northampton, Massachusetts, died July 8, 1957) was America’s First Lady from August 3, 1923 to March 4, 1929. She was the wife of Calvin Coolidge, thirtieth president of the United States. The outgoing Grace Goodhue taught at the Clarke School for the Deaf, located in Massachusetts, before she married the shy Coolidge. Children could visit a website at: Grace Coolidge.

Carolyn Haywood (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1898; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 11, 1990) wrote and/or illustrated at least 47 children’s books. She is best known for her Betsy and Eddie books. Children can learn more at: Carolyn Haywood.

Lucretia Coffin Mott

Lucretia Coffin Mott (born Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1793; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 11, 1880) was an abolitionist and a leader of the women’s rights movement. Children could read more about her at: Lucretia Coffin Mott.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (born Bloemfontein, South Africa, 1892; died Bournemouth, England, September 2, 1973) wrote The Hobbitt and The Lord of the Rings. Idea: Read to the children a passage from one of Tolkien’s books. Children can learn more at: Tolkien.

Jan 042024

Louis Braille (born Coupvray, France, 1809; died Paris, France, March 28, 1852) invented a raised type of writing that can felt and read by the blind. He was accidentally blinded at age three. When he was ten, he attended the National Institute for the Blind in Paris. He became an accomplished musician and served as a church organist. He also became a teacher at the Institute. He modified a military code system to develop Braille. Children can learn all about Louis Braille and the Braille system by visiting a site designed for children: http://www.braillebug.org/.

Jacob Grimm (born Hanau, Germany, 1785; died Berlin, Germany, September 20, 1863) wrote, with his brother, Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Children can read and listen to versions of their fairy tales at: Project Gutenberg.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (born Anderson, Indiana, 1933) is a children’s author. She has written over 130 books and at least 2000 articles. One of her most famous books is Shiloh, which received the 1991 Newbery Award. She is also famous for her Alice series. Children can learn more at: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Tom Thumb (born Charles Sherwood Stratton in Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1838; died Middleborough, Massachusetts, July 15, 1883) grew to a height of 40 inches. He weighed 70 pounds. P. T. Barnum hired him to be a part of his museum and circus.

Jan 052024

Alvin Ailey (born Rogers, Texas, 1931; died New York, New York, December 1, 1989) was a choreographer and dancer. He created the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and he strove to increase the importance of African Americans in dance. Idea: Children could learn more about different types of dancing.

Lynne Cherry (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1952) is a children’s author and illustrator. She has over 30 books to her credit. Her books include The Great Kapok Tree and A River Ran Wild. Children could visit her website at: Lynne Cherry.

Stephen Decatur (born Sinepuxent, Maryland, 1779; died Bladenburg, Maryland, March 22, 1820) was a naval officer. He is famous for saying, “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.” He was killed in a duel with Commodore James Barron.

Kate Feiffer (born New York, New York, 1964) has written eleven books for children. Her father, Jules Feiffer, has illustrated at least four of the eleven books. Her books include Double Pink and Signed by Zelda. Children can check out her website at: Kate Feiffer.

Zebulon Pike

Zebulon Pike (born Lamberton, New Jersey, 1779; died near Toronto, Canada, 1813) was an explorer. In 1805 he investigated the source of the Mississippi River. In 1806 he became intrigued with a large mountain in Colorado. Thinking the mountain was close, he and his party started walking toward it. They were fooled by the mountain’s height and its true distance from them. That mountain was named Pike’s Peak. Later he signed up to fight in the War of 1812. He was killed in battle. Idea: Pike’s Peak hosts a very important road race every year. Create a “road race” of questions regarding mountains. Each time a student answers a question correctly, he/she speeds more up the mountain. Children could also visit: http://www.zebulonpike.org/. The website provides maps of his explorations and information about him.

Jan 062024
Joan of Arc - Poster

Joan of Arc – War Savings Stamps Poster

Joan of Arc (born Domremy, France, 1412; died Rouen, France, May 30, 1431) led French troops against the British. Declaring she had religious visions, she persuaded Charles VII to give her an army. She was successful for quite some time. She was captured by the British. She was tried for heresy and burned at the stake in 1431. Idea: Children could research her battles and plot them on a map. They could read Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley.

Vera Cleaver (born Virgin, South Dakota, 1919; died Florida, August 11, 1992) wrote books for children. She and her husband Bill Cleaver wrote about sixteen books, including Ellen Grae (a 1968 Newbery Honor Book), Where the Lilies Bloom (a 1970 Newbery Honor Book), and I Would Rather Be a Turnip. Children can learn more at: Vera Cleaver.

Sherlock Holmes (born 1854) was a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You can read many of the Sherlock Holmes stories at: Project Gutenberg.

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (born Galesburg, Illinois, 1878; died Flat Rock, North Carolina, July 22, 1967) was a poet, writer, and historian. His free verse poetry depends on strong imagery. One of his books of poetry is Corn Huskers, written in 1918. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for his biographies of Abraham Lincoln. Children could read some of his poetry at: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/28. They could also take a virtual trip of Connemara, his home in North Carolina for the last 22 years of his life: http://www.nps.gov/carl/index.htm.

Jedediah Strong Smith (born Jericho, New York, 1799; died on the Santa Fe Trail, Kansas, May 27, 1831) was an American explorer. He claimed to be the first American to arrive in California. Children could read a biography, Jedediah Smith (Watts Library) by Sharlene Nelson and Ted Nelson.

Wendelin Van Draanen (born Chicago, Illinois, 1965) is a children’s author. She has written the Sammy Keys series, the Shredderman series, and the Gecko and Sticky series. Her first Sammy Keys book, Sammy Keys and the Hotel Thief, was awarded the 1999 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Writing. Children could visit her website at: Wendelin Van Draanen.

Jan 072024

Kay Chorao (born Ann McKay Sproat in Elkhart, Indiana, 1936) writes and illustrates books for children. In addition to writing and illustrating her own books, she has illustrated books for other authors, including Jane Yolen, Judith Viorst, and Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Chorao’s books include Cathedral Mouse and Here Comes Kate.

Eleanor Clymer (born New York, New York, 1906; died Haverford, Pennsylvania, March 31, 2001) wrote at least 58 children’s books. She is best known for The Trolley Car Family and The Tiny Little House. Children can learn more at: Eleanor Clymer.

Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore (born Cayuga County, New York, 1800; died Buffalo, New York, March 8, 1874) was the thirteenth president (1850-1853) of the United States. He succeeded Zachary Taylor in 1850 when the latter died. Prior to being president, he had been a congressman for four terms. His party did not nominate him for the 1852 presidential contest. He campaigned during the 1856 race for the “Know-Nothing Party,” but he lost. Children could visit a website at: Millard Fillmore.

Minfong Ho (born Yangon, Myanmar, 1951) writes books, usually about life in Asia, for children. Her book Hush! A Thai Lullaby, illustrated by Holly Meade, received a 1997 Caldecott Honor Award.

Zora Neale Hurston (born Notasulga, Alabama, 1891; died Fort Pierce, Florida, January 28, 1960) was a writer. Perhaps her most famous work is Their Eyes Were Watching God. Older readers could visit a website devoted to her at: Zora Neale Hurston.

Jacques Etienne Montgolfier (born Vidalon-lez Annonay, Ardeche, France, 1745; died Serrieres, France, August 2, 1799) was an inventor and a balloonist. He and his brother, Joseph Michael, experimented with fabric balloons and smoke. Eventually they conducted the first hot air balloon flight. Idea: children could conduct experiments with balloons. Consider having balloon races.

Jan 082024

Lee J. Ames (born New York, New York, 1921; died Huntington, New York, June 3, 2011) was an artist and an illustrator. He illustrated and/or wrote about 180 books. Famous for his Draw 50…books, he also illustrated books written by many authors, including Isaac Asimov, Alvin Silverstein, and Herbert Spencer Zim.

Floyd Cooper (born Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1956; died Easton, Pennsylvania, July 16, 2021) wrote and/or illustrated 110 books for children. He received the 2009 Coretta Scott King Medal for illustrating The Blacker the Berry. He has also earned  Coretta Scott King Honor Awards for illustrating Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes, Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea by Joyce Carol Thomas, and I Have Heard of a Land also by Joyce Carol Thomas.

Judith Bloom Fradin (born Chicago, Illinois, 1945) writes nonfiction books for children. Her books include The Power of One: Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine and Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy. She co-wrote many books with her husband, Dennis Brindel Fradin. He passed away not long ago. I hope she continues to write books that children so desperately need.

Stephen Hawking (born Oxford, United Kingdom, 1942; died Cambridge, United Kingdom, March 14, 2018) was a theoretical physicist studying concepts on relativity and black holes. One of his most famous books is A Brief History of Time. He wrote with his daughter, Lucy Hawking, three books for children, George and the Big Bang, George’s Secret Key to the Universe, and George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt. Children can read more about him at a website devoted to him: http://www.hawking.org.uk/.

Stephen Manes (born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1949) writes books for children. A former writer on computers and technology, Manes has written over 30 books for children. His books include How to Be a Perfect Person in Three Days and Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear. Older children can read more about him at: Stephen Manes.

Elvis Presley Meets Richard Nxon

Elvis Presley Meets Richard Nxon

Elvis Presley (born Tupelo, Mississippi, 1935; died Memphis, Tennessee, August 16, 1977) was a rock and roll star and actor. His works include Jailhouse Rock and Heartbreak Hotel. He also acted in 27 movies. Idea: Have an Elvis impersonation event.

Marjorie Priceman (born Long Island, New York, 1958) has written and/or illustrated at least 30 books for children. She has earned two Caldecott Honor Awards: in 2001 for Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin and in 2006 for Hot Air!: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride.

Elisabetta Sirani (born Bologna, Italy, 1638; died Bologna, Italy, August 28, 1665) was one of a handful of women painters of the time. She painted almost two hundred works of art and established a painting school for women. Children can view two of her works at: Elisabetta Sirani.

Jan 092024

Clyde Robert Bulla (born King City, Missouri, 1914; died Warrensburg, Missouri, May 23, 2007) was a children’s author. He wrote over 60 books. One of his books is The Chalk Box Kid. Another famous book is A Lion to Guard Us. Children can learn more at: Clyde Robert Bulla.

Carrie Chapman Catt (born Ripon, Wisconsin, 1859; died New Rochelle, New York, March 9, 1947) was a women’s rights champion who advocated for the Nineteenth Amendment, women’s right to vote. She also established the National League of Women Voters in 1920. During World War II she worked with the United States government to allow more Jews to immigrate to America and to escape Nazi governments. Children could read Carrie Chapman Catt: A Voice for Women by Kristin Thoennes Keller.

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon

Richard Milhous Nixon (born Yorba Linda, California, 1913; died New York, New York, August 22, 1994) was the thirty-seventh president (1969 – 1974) of the United States. During World War II, he served in noncombat duty. He was elected to Congress in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. He was Eisenhower’s vice president. During Nixon’s presidency the first moon landing occurred. Also, he made an important visit to China. He served from January 20, 1969, to August 9, 1974, when he resigned. He was about to be impeached. Children could visit a website at: Richard Nixon.

Jan 102024

Ethan Allen (born Litchfield, Connecticut, 1738; died Burlington, Vermont, February 12, 1789) was a hero of the American Revolution and the leader of the “Green Mountain Boys.” Children can visit: Ethan Allen. Children could also read Ethan Allen: Green Mountain Rebel by Brenda Haugen and Andrew Santella.



Remy Charlip (born Brooklyn, New York, 1929; died San Francisco, California, August 14, 2012) was an artist, choreographer, and writer/illustrator of children’s books. One of his works is the EXCELLENT book Fortunately. Children can read it and then make their own Fortunately books. He illustrated books by other writers, including Margaret Wise Brown and Jane Yolen.

Thomas Mifflin (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1744; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 20, 1800) represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention. During the Revolutionary War, Mifflin served as George Washington’s aide-de-camp and then the army’s quartermaster. After the war, he served as Pennsylvania’s governor and then he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Children could learn more at: Thomas Mifflin.

Robinson Jeffers (born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1887; died Carmel, California, January 20, 1962) was a poet and a playwright. Many of his works concern the environment. Children can read some of his work at: Robinson Jeffers.

Hildegarde Swift (born Clinton, New York, 1890; died Redland, California, January 10, 1977) wrote books for children. Her Little Blacknose: The Story of a Pioneer, illustrated by Lynd Kendall Ward, earned a 1930 Newbery Honor Award. She also wrote The Railroad to Freedom: A Story of the Civil War; it received a 1933 Newbery Honor Award.

Bill Toomey (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1939) is a decathlon champion. He won the gold medal in the 1968 Olympics. Idea: Children could create their own class decathlon, possibly a combination of mental and athletic events.