Madagascar celebrates Independence Day. It became free from French rule in 1960. It is an island off the southeastern coast of Africa, and it is slightly smaller than Texas. It is the fourth largest island in the world. It exports coffee, vanilla, and cloves, and about 23 million people live there. Antananarivo is the capital.
Bicycle was patented by W. K. Clarkson, Jr. of New York in 1819. Originally called a velocipede, the bicycle soon became a popular mode of transportation. The patent was destroyed in the 1836 patent office fire. In 2014 a billion bicycles were being used for business and fun. China accounts for 450 million of those bicycles.
United Nations Charter was signed by fifty nations in San Francisco, California, in 1945. The United Nations replaced the faltering League of Nations. Children could see the list of countries now belonging to the United Nations at: http://www.un.org/en/members/.
Universal Bar Codes were put into practice in 1974. A package of gum was scanned at the Marsh grocery store in Troy, Ohio. The purchaser was Clyde Dawson, and the store clerk was Sharon Buchanan. Afterward, the package of gum went to the Smithsonian and was put on display.
976CN Tower was opened officially in 1976. Located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, it stands 1,815 feet tall. It was the tallest free-standing structure in the world until 2010 when the Canton Tower and Burj Khalifa were built.
Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (born Hillsboro, West Virginia, 1892; died Danby, Vermont, March 6, 1973) was an author. She won the Nobel Prize for The Good Earth.
Robert Burch (born Fayette County, Georgia, 1925; died Fayette County, Georgia, December 25, 2007) wrote nineteen books for children. His works include Queenie Peavy and Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain.
Abner Doubleday (born Ballston Spa, New York, 1819; died Mendham, New Jersey, January 26, 1893) was the “Father of Baseball.” He fought in the Mexican War and in the Civil War. When the war ended, he had attained the rank of major general.
Walter Farley (born Syracuse, New York, 1915; died Sarasota, Florida, October 16, 1989) wrote books for children. He is known for his The Black Stallion and the sequels to the book. Children could learn more at: Walter Farley.
John Langdon (born near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1741; died Portsmouth, New Hampshire, September 18, 1819) represented New Hampshire at the Constitutional Convention. A wealthy merchant, he fought in the Revolutionary War and built warships for the navy. He served as both New Hampshire’s governor and as one of the two U.S. senators from the state. During the country’s first presidential election, he counted the electoral votes and then sent George Washington a note with the results.
Thomas Locker (born New York, New York, 1937; died Albany, New York, March 9, 2012) was a writer, painter, and illustrator. His works include Where the River Begins and Sky Tree.
Barbara Brenner (born Brooklyn, New York, 1925) has written more than 60 books for children. Her books include Wagon Wheels and One Small Place by the Sea.
Arthur Middleton (born Charleston, South Carolina, 1742; died Goose Creek, South Carolina, January 1, 1787) signed the Declaration of Independence. He represented South Carolina. The son of a wealthy plantation owner, Arthur went to England at age twelve to be educated. He returned to South Carolina in 1763 and became a lawyer. He was passionate about breaking away from Great Britain. During the Revolutionary War, the British captured him and held him captive in Florida. Soldiers looted his plantation and took many of his slaves. After the war, he rebuilt the plantation, but he died at a young age.
Nancy Willard (born Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1936; died Poughkeepsie, New York, February 19, 2017) was a poet and novelist. She published at least 70 books. She wrote A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. This book won the 1982 Newbery Medal and a Caldecott Honor Award.
Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrickson Zaharias (born Port Arthur, Texas, 1911; died Galveston, Texas, September 27, 1956) was a great athlete. She played for the women’s All-American basketball team when she was sixteen years old. She won two gold medals during the 1932 Olympic Games in track events. She then went on to a string of championships in golf. She also enjoyed softball, swimming, and skating.
Charlotte Zolotow (born Norfolk, Virginia, 1915; died Hudson-on-Hastings, November 19, 2013) wrote more than seventy books for children. Her Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, was a Newbery Honor Book in 1962. The Charlotte Zolotow Award, first presented in 1998, is given each year to the writer of the best picture book. Children can learn more about the award at: Zolotow Award. They could also read the portion dedicated to Charlotte Zolotow and her award in Children’s Book Award Handbook by Diana F. Marks.