Martin Luther King Day is a national holiday. The holiday is the third Monday in January. Martin Luther King, Junior’s birthday is January 15, 1929. He was assassinated in 1968. A holiday in his honor was first proposed in 1968. It became law in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed the document. It was first observed January 20, 1986. Some states fought the idea, and it was first observed in all 50 states in 2000. Lately people have proposed that the day become a day of service and not just a holiday. Some organizations paint/repair community buildings. Others improve parks and highways. Others work with charity groups. Children could learn more about the Martin Luther King Day of Service at: http://mlkday.gov/.
Kid Inventors’ Day is today. This day was chosen because it is Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. Franklin was a prolific inventor, creating bifocals, the Franklin stove, and even Daylight Saving Time. Children can learn more at: http://www.kidinventorsday.com/.
James Cook in 1773 became the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle. Sailing on the Resolution, Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle twice more on the voyage. On the same trip he visited a number of locations, including Easter Island, Tahiti, and the New Hebrides. Children could learn more at: James Cook.
James Madison Randolph was born in 1806 in the White House. The grandson of Thomas Jefferson, he was the first child born in the White House. Only one other child was born IN the White House. Who could that person be? Children could find out more about the White House at: White House.
Cable car was patented by Andrew Hallidie in 1871. San Francisco’s hilly terrain made transportation difficult for the horse-drawn carriages. Hallidie’s invention made life better for both people and horses. By 1920 most cities had changed to the cable car system. Children can learn more at: Cable Car.
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, 1942; died Scottsdale, Arizona, June 3, 2016) was a former heavyweight boxer. He carried the torch for part of the opening ceremonies for the 1995 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Children could learn more at: Muhammad Ali
John Bellairs (born Marshall, Michigan, 1938; died Haverhill, Massachusetts, March 8, 1991) was a children’s author. He published at least 31 mystery and suspense novels. His work includes The Curse of the Blue Figurine and The House with a Clock in its Walls. Edward Gorey illustrated many of his books. Children could investigate a website devoted to him: http://www.bellairsia.com/.
Robert Cormier (born Leominster, Massachusetts, 1925; died Leominster, Massachusetts, November 2, 2000) was a children’s author of at least eighteen books. Two of his works are The Chocolate War and I Am the Cheese. Children could read the transcript of an interview with him at: Cormier Interview. They could learn more at: Robert Cormier.
Benjamin Franklin (born Boston, Massachusetts, 1706; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania April 17, 1790) was a statesman, writer, printer and much more. He signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He published Poor Richard’s Almanack. He invented many items, including bifocal glasses and the lightning rod. He created the first fire company and the first free library. Idea: Children could make a timeline of his life and then decide whether he made the most contributions to science or to the freedom of America. Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, by Margaret Cousins, is an excellent source of information. Children could learn more at: Ben Franklin.
Shari Lewis (born Shari Hurwitz in New York, New York, 1934; died Los Angeles, California, August 2, 1998) was a puppeteer and a leader in children’s educational television. The creator of the puppet Lamb Chop, she published at least 60 children’s books. Idea: Bring in materials to make puppets of various kinds. Consider sock puppets, stick puppets, even finger puppets. Children could produce a puppet show.
Michelle Obama (born Chicago, Illinois, 1964) is a former First Lady of the United States. Married to Barack Obama, the 44th President, she is the mother of Malia (born 1998) and Sasha (born 2001). She was a lawyer before she began helping her husband’s political career. As First Lady, she devoted time and energy to Let’s Move, a program to reduce childhood obesity and increase children’s knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices. Children can learn more about her at: Michelle Obama.
Janet Stevens (born Dallas, Texas, 1953) began illustrating books for children in 1978. Today she creates her images using Adobe Photoshop and other technology tools. She received a 1996 Caldecott Honor Award for her illustrations in Tops and Bottoms. She explains her process at her VERY INTERESTING website: Janet Stevens.