History of Babe Ruth for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are sitting in a stadium with crowds of people all around you. You smell buttery popcorn and freshly cooked hot dogs. “Peanuts! Popcorn!” A vendor yells from across the aisle. “Get your peanuts, popcorn!” As everyone gets seated there is a feeling of excitement in the air. The loudspeakers start playing, “Take me out to the ballgame!” The crowd sings along. You hear the crack of a baseball against a bat. The game has begun! 

If you’re familiar with baseball do these nicknames sound familiar? The Sultan of Swat? The Great Bambino? The Colossus of Clout? These are all nicknames for one of the most famous baseball players to have ever lived, Babe Ruth!

Babe Ruth’s real name was George Herman Ruth Jr. and he was born in Baltimore, Maryland on February 6, 1895. His grandparents were immigrants from Europe, so the first language he spoke was German. Growing up, his dad owned and ran a saloon. There, Ruth really did whatever he wanted. He didn’t have many rules and just ran wild with his friends through the streets of town. And with his dad being busy with the business, Ruth got into a lot of trouble. In fact, he got into so much trouble and his parents couldn’t control him that they put him in St. Mary’s Industrial School. This was a special school for boys who needed more structure than their parents were able to give them at home. At the school, one of his teachers, Brother Matthais, loved baseball. He taught the boys how to play and Ruth got into the game, too. Ruth ended up living at the school for 12 years and there got a basic education and learned some life skills. He used these skills and became a shirtmaker and could make things out of wood, known as carpentry. 

Ruth kept playing baseball and when he was 19 tried and made the minor league team for the Baltimore Orioles. The other players teased Ruth because he was the favorite or “darling” of the owner, Jack Dunn. Because of this they started calling him “Babe”!  This is how Babe Ruth’s famous nickname was born! Even though Babe Ruth was a big success with the Orioles, the owner ran into money trouble and he was forced to sell his best players to the Major Leagues.

From there Ruth was sent to play for the Boston Red Sox. When Ruth first started playing, he was a left-handed pitcher but really wanted to bat more, so he started playing outfield and first base. Ruth tried to hit almost everything, and because of that, he struck out a lot! But he was very determined and never gave up. He even said that “Every strike brings me closer to the next homerun”. And the Red Sox fans loved him, because he did hit a lot of homeruns! One year he hit home runs in 4 games in a row. The next year, he helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 1918. 

In 1919 Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox sold him because the owner wanted more money and Babe Ruth was worth a lot. And the New York Yankees wanted him because they hoped he could help them win a World Series. There were lots of mixed reactions to him being traded. Some Boston fans were devastated to lose Ruth, while others thought he was too much trouble. While he wasn’t playing baseball, he spent a lot of time partying and sometimes getting into trouble. But the Boston fans who liked Ruth, believed that trading him started an 84 year “curse”, during which the Red Sox did not win a World Series. It was called “The Curse of the Bambino”. Before he was traded, the Red Sox had won 5 of the 15 World Series that had been played. But after they sold Ruth they didn’t win another World Series until 2004. 

With Ruth, the New York Yankees did very well! In fact, they won the World Series 4 times, and they won the American league title 7 times! When Ruth was traded to the Yankees he became a full time outfielder, and was now able to bat all the time. He hit home run after home run and the New York fans loved him! During his first year, the Yankees had a record number of people at the stadium, 1.2 million people. It was the first time that any Major League Baseball game attendance had reached 1 million. During his 13 years with the Yankees, he became the highest paid player up to that point, making 2 ½  times more than any other player in the league. At the time, Ruth even made more than the president of the United States! On the team he was part of a group of players called Murderers Row. They got that name from the power of the hitters. The players were Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, and Babe Ruth. 

Sadly, Ruth spent many years of his life drinking too much alcohol and not taking care of his health. He also spent most of the money he made on things he didn’t need and that didn’t help better his life. Because of his poor health choices, he began to have trouble running the bases and catching the ball. He played his last full season with the Yankees in 1934. 

Ruth wanted to become a manager of a team himself but didn’t have any luck finding a position. But like hitting home runs, Ruth was never one to give up. He once said “you just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”  

Eventually he was traded to the Boston Braves as a “gate attraction.” This means he was hired not necessarily because he was good anymore, but because he’d been famous and would cause people to pay to come to the game to see him. 

He retired early that year in 1935. The next year he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Babe Ruth became popular at a time when baseball became very popular in the United States and known as “America’s Pastime.” One reason was because the world had just gone through the first World War and then the 1918 flu pandemic, which were very tragic times and many lives were lost. America needed something good and positive to focus on. Baseball and sports figures like Babe Ruth became a symbol of that optimism and fun pastime. He also symbolized an American Dream that someone who came from very little money and didn’t have a well-known family could become famous. His life also showed us that it’s important to take care of yourself and set rules for yourself. If we want our bodies to work well we need to take care of them by eating good foods and exercising.

Babe Ruth worked very hard and took risks to become one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. He once said, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” This means there are many things you can worry about in life or fears that may keep you from acting. But like Babe Ruth said, if you worry too much about “striking out,” you’ll never get those things done and “swing the bat” and make the moves you need to take the next step in life. For you this might mean trying out for a sport or learning how to draw or some other skill. Don’t worry about what others might say or do, don’t worry about “striking out” and just act like Babe Ruth! 

The History of Memorial Day for Kids

Have you ever heard of Memorial Day? Memorial Day is an American holiday honoring men and women who have died while serving in the military. It takes place on the last Monday of May every year. Most kids and adults get this day off work and school, so usually the day is filled with parties and vacation time. I know growing up most of my memories of Memorial Day involved pool parties and barbeques with family and friends. And while it’s good to spend time with those we love, it’s also important to understand why we have Memorial Day. Growing up, I also remember visiting the cemetery to place flowers on the wreath of my grandfather. My grandfather served in England during World War 2. He had to leave his wife and daughter and while he was away his job was to guard the bomber planes at night. He didn’t die during that war, but we still honored him for his service. I also had a younger brother who passed away, so we always visited his grave as well. 

Memorial Day is a special time to remember those who are no longer with us. If you notice the word “memorial” sounds kind of like “memory” and that means on this day we remember our family and friends who have passed away. 

Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day and originally started during the years after the American Civil War. The Civil War was a time when many lives were lost, so many families around this time of year were thinking about their brothers, husbands, and sons and wanted to remember them by decorating their graves.

One reason Memorial Day is during the Spring is when flowers are in bloom and often families decorated the graves with flowers. No one is exactly sure when Decoration Day started, there are many different theories and ideas, but after the Civil War and World War 1 and World War II Decoration Day became more and more popular. 

One of the towns where Decoration Day was celebrated was Waterloo, New York. In Waterloo they held a large event where businesses closed and the entire community came out to decorate the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. The first time they celebrated it was May 5th 1866. Over time many other states started holding their own Decoration Day. Often these holidays have a parade which include those in the military and veterans. A veteran is someone who served in the military, but was no longer serving. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. 

Finally in 1967 the United States government decided to make Memorial Day a holiday all across the country and placed it on Monday so it could be a three day weekend. Because of the time of the year it also unofficially marks the beginning of summer, which is one reason families use it to go on vacation, spend time outside, have pool parties, go to the beach and have barbecues. 

While Memorial Day is an American holiday, many other countries have days set aside to honor those who served in the military. South Korea has their Memorial Day on June 6th, the same month the Korean War began. The United Kingdom, Canada, France and many other countries celebrate Armistice Day on November 11th, when World War 2 ended. Each country has their own celebration that tends to correspond to the end of a war where they remember those who were lost. 

How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day this year? Is there someone in your family who you will remember? Spend some time thinking about all that you have and the freedoms you enjoy because of others who came before you and were willing to sacrifice their time and even their lives. Memorial Day is also a good time to spend with your family. Take the time to think about how fortunate you are to have friends and family in your life and to not take them for granted.

The History of Presidents’ Day: Childhoods for Kids

So in the United States today is President’s Day. Presidents Day is a day we celebrate the life and presidencies of individuals who served in the highest political office in our country. Today we thought it would be fun to focus on a part of their lives that is often overlooked — their childhoods. And I am lucky to know some of the smartest people who know a lot about the lives of the Presidents! Most of this material came from Brittany at The American Moms. Check them out on Instagram or their website theamericanmoms.com. They always share great ideas about how you can teach and inspire your kids. So once again, a big thanks to Brittany at The American Moms for all of the awesome research.

So even though all of these individuals rose to the highest office in the United States government, many of them came from very little. Most of us know about Abraham Lincoln. If you don’t know about his childhood, check out our episode about Honest Abe, because we go into a lot more detail there. But he lost his mother at a very young age and often was left alone by his father to take care of his little sister in the woods of Kentucky. He had to teach himself to read and didn’t go to a normal school. He had to learn to become a lawyer all by himself, and he still became the President of the United States. That’s pretty amazing, right?

Andrew Jackson was the 7th President of the United States. The year before Andrew Jackson was born his family immigrated (that means moved) to America from Ireland. Sadly, his father died just after Andrew was born and his mother hoped Andrew would become a minister in their church, but he was a pretty wild kid and that continued until he was an adult, so becoming a minister didn’t work out. When the American Revolution started — that is the war where American fought for it’s freedom from Great Britain — Andrew and his two brothers joined the war. Andrew was only 13-years old! Can you believe that? Sadly, during the war he lost one of his brothers and Andrew and his other brother was captured by the enemy, the British. While they were prisoners they became very sick with smallpox. Eventually, their mother arranged for their release and they were set free.

Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States. Millard was also born to a very poor family. Like Abraham Lincoln he was born in a log cabin to a family of farmers who often couldn’t feed him and his brothers and sisters. Because they didn’t have any money they sent Millard to be an apprentice cloth maker. An apprentice is someone who is in training by an expert clother maker in this case. While Millard worked there they paid his family a little so they could have food to eat. But as an apprentice Millard was treated badly. They worked him very hard. Eventually Millard saved up some money and bought himself his freedom. Then he walked 100 miles back to his family farm! From there on out he decided to educate himself and was so desperate to learn sometimes he stole books! It was a rough life, but he was dedicated to learning so he didn’t have to be poor and hungry like his parents. Like Abraham Lincoln, Millard taught himself to become a lawyer and became very successful at it. Often we think we can only learn by going to school, but that is not true! The people who become the best learners teach themselves things. You can do that, too! And believe it or not some day school will end, but it’s important to enjoy learning and keep on learning anyway!

James Garfield was the 20th President of the United States. As an adult he once said: “I never meet a ragged boy in the street without feeling that I may owe him a salute, for I know not what possibilities may be buttoned up under his coat.” Whe he meant was that even those you might see someone who doesn’t look like they could do much in life as a child, you never know and shouldn’t judge them by appearances. 


James was born in Ohio. He lost his father when he was only two-years-old. As the youngest, his mother and siblings were super protective of him, but had great hopes for him. They knew that whatever happened, James had to have an education. They did whatever they could to make it happen, saving every penny to send him to school. His mom even convinced local leaders to build a schoolhouse on her property, since that was the only way her children would ever receive an education. She really cared about their education!

But she was very sad when James quit school and went to work for a canal company. A canal is a man-made river that boats can move things up and down. Although James had never seen the ocean, he was fascinated by it. And working on a canal boat was the closest thing to his dream. 


Although James worked on the water, he had never learned how to swim. One night while working, he fell in the canal and almost drowned. Miraculously, he grabbed a hold of a rope and pulled himself in. The rope never should have been there and as James said “I took it as a sign that God had bigger plans for me.”

After this experience James returned home and decided to go back to school. He worked as a janitor and things began to improve for him. He quickly rose to the top of his class and was asked to be a teacher the next year. 

Theodore (or Teddy) Roosevelt was the 26th POTUS. When he was little his family was wealthy, unlike many of the other presidents, but Teddy was always very sick. Often his kind father would carry him around at night or take him on carriage rides while he was coughing. His mother tried to be very protective of Teddy, but his father took a different path. His father said he needed to work his body to become stronger rather than stay inside. Teddy spent much of his childhood exploring the woods, studying out the creatures around their home, drawing pictures of them. Later he went on to become a very smart man who knew a lot about nature and animals. He started museums because of his love for science. He also created the first National Parks to protect wildlife and nature. In his teenage years he spent a lot of time living what he called “the strenuous life.” He lifted weights and boxed and ran and worked hard to become stronger. Eventually, his sickness went away and he became a strong and courageous man. He became known for his rough lifestyle and love for adventure.

Spend some time thinking about these incredible people and what they went through as children. Even though they had very little or had hard childhoods they were able to teach themselves, work hard and do great things. Teddy Roosevelt exercised and explored the natural world around him. That helped him grow. Think about what you can do to improve your situation like these presidents did. As children they are no different than you. But the choices they made, made all the difference. For you it might be setting a goal to read a little more, or finding a new hobby that interests you, or helping a sibling who needs you. All of these little steps each day make a difference and change your character in ways that will last a lifetime.

I hoped you learned some new things about presidents. I know I did! A big thanks again to Brittany at The American Moms. Be sure to check them out! Have a Happy Presidents Day and talk to you next time!

The History of Martin Luther King, Jr. for Kids

So this coming month, February, is “Black History Month” in the United States and Canada.  Black History Month is a time for us to remember important people and events in the history of people of African descent around the world and in our countries. Black History Month can be traced back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week to recognize the achievements made by African Americans.  Carter Woodson was a Harvard university graduate and he chose February as the month to celebrate black history because the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were both in February.  

We thought that for this month’s first episode of Bedtime History, we would focus on one of the great black rights activists and civil rights leaders of American history, Martin Luther King Jr.  Civil rights are the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.  His dad was a pastor and his mother was a school teacher.  A pastor is a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation.  Martin also had an older sister named Cristine and a younger brother named Alfred.  They grew up in a wealthy area of Atlanta called “Sweet Auburn” where many black families lived at the time.

Martin knew from a young age that he enjoyed a great childhood and a good education that not many black children in America at the time had access to.  It inspired him to want to help other black children have the same opportunities to live a good life.  He was also inspired by his father, who worked hard on activities to try to improve the lives of black people and achieve equality.

Martin was a very good student and he worked hard to get good grades.  Because of his hard work, he got into a good college when he was 15 to study law and medicine.  It was called Morehouse College and was the same college that his father and his grandfather had attended.

Even though Martin did not originally plan to become a pastor like his father, he became more and more interested in religious studies and politics during his time at college.  Martin decided to finish a Bachelor of Divinity degree so that he could become a pastor too.  

Martin was a popular student, even though he was one of the only black students in a mostly white student college.  He finished his degree in 1948 and was elected president of his class in his final year of college.

After he graduated, Martin moved to Boston to attend Boston University when he was 24.  While he was there and studying for a higher level degree, he met Coretta Scott.  Coretta was a singer from Alabama who was also in college in Boston.  She was studying music at the New England Conservatory of Music. 

Martin and Coretta fell in love and got married in 1953.  After Martin’s studies were finished, they moved to Montgomery, Alabama.  Martin became the pastor of a church there called the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  He was a great pastor and had a special gift of being a very good public speaker.  People always paid attention to what he had to say because he was well spoken and delivered his sermons in a very convincing style.

Martin and Coretta had been living in Montgomery for a short time when they started to have children.  At the time, the city of Montgomery also became the centre for the civil rights struggle in America.  The city was very segregated.  This means that black and white people were divided and expected to live apart from each other.  Some people challenged the rules that forced them to live apart.  This led to a court decision about segregation of students in schools.  The court decision decided that while black and white kids had been separated in the past, they were now allowed to go to school together. 

The decision was a great victory for those who wanted equality for all people and the end of segregation.  However, the decision made some people who disagreed with these changes very angry. At the time, there was a lot of racism in the area. Racism means to have negative thoughts and actions towards people of a different race based on the belief that your own race is better.  

The fight over civil rights grew greater in 1955.  That year, a black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus and she was arrested. The rules at the time said that she was supposed to sit in the back of the bus in the segregated section for black people.  However, Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus to protest this rule. To protest means to do something to show you are against a rule or law.

Rosa Parks’ arrest made a number of people angry.  A group of activists got together and decided to stop using the bus as a protest.  An activist is someone who works to bring about political or social change. Activist groups started taking more and more actions to try to change the rules that limited equality for black people and separated blacks and whites. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. became the leader and spokesman of the activist group at the time. Martin started speaking as the leader of a group trying to fight racism and bring about equality peacefully.  Martin admired Mahatma Ghandi and other peaceful activists from around the world and history.  Ghandi and others were people who taught that the way to bring about real change in society was to protest but not to be violent.

Even though Martin was trying to change things peacefully, many people disagreed with him. Many of these people threatened him and his family. Some even tried to set his house on fire. This was very scary for Martin and his family, especially now that they had four young children. Even though it was a scary time for Martin and his family, they were proud of the success of their protests and how many people had joined the cause for equality.

Next Martin began traveling across America and giving talks to big groups on civil rights and nonviolent protest.  His messages were becoming more and more popular, but also causing more and more people to be angry with him. 

Many people fought very hard for equality and the rights of black people and many people fought against these ideas.  Most of the protests were peaceful but some became violent when protesters and those against them became heated.

In 1963, Martin and his friends protested segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, which was one of the most racially divided cities in the United States. Martin was arrested and had to spend time in jail. It was a sad time for him because he was away from his family, but he used this time to write letters to those who opposed him, peacefully trying to convince them of why equality was right and good.

Later that year, when he got out of prison, Martin organized a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  A march is a type of protest in which people walk along public roads in an organized way to protest about something.  The march was peaceful and it was attended by around 250,000 people!  

At the March on Washington, Martin gave his famous speech, known as the “I Have a Dream” speech.  It called for a peaceful world in which all people are treated as equals.  Many people around the world watched Martin Luther King, Jr. give this speech in person and on TV.  Later that year, he was named “Man of the Year” by TIME magazine. 

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. also became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was only 35 years old. And in August 1965, the US Congress passed a law that gave all black Americans the right to vote. This was a big step and would not have come about at that time if not for the hard work of Martin and his fellow activists.

Unfortunately a few years later, Martin’s life and work were cut short when he was shot and killed.  He was standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee when someone shot him. The killer was a man that had escaped prison.  He was later caught and sent to prison.

People across the country were saddened by Martin’s death. The president at the time declared a national day of mourning, which was meant to be a time for the entire country to express sorrow over Martin’s death.  Later, in 1983, the US created a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is known as Martin Luther King Day and is on the third Monday of January each year. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a brave and hardworking man.  He fought hard for the things that he believed in and to help others.  He believed in equality and human rights for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, skin colour or how rich or poor someone is. And he did so by always being peaceful.  He was truly an incredible man.

There is still much work to be done as society works towards Martin’s dream of “full equality”.  But by learning about Martin and his life and work, you can join the conversation and become part of the efforts that are still underway in your country to bring about full and meaningful equality to all people. And the ways in which you can help society become a more peaceful, equal and loving place. 

If you haven’t already heard it, I would recommend that you listen to the full audio of Martin’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  It is one of the most famous and amazing speeches of all time. 

The History of Halloween for Kids

Every year around this time in North America, the nights get longer and darker.  Children start to visit pumpkin patches and plan their costumes all in the hopes of getting ready for Halloween.  People decorate their yards with scary scenes and decorations.  And families fill large bowls with candy to hand out to children on Halloween Night. 

Have you ever wondered where the tradition of Halloween comes from?

Halloween began as an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (“sow-in”).  Celtic people were northern European people that lived in the United Kingdom and Ireland 2,000 years ago.  The Samhain festival was celebrated on the Celtic peoples’ new year, which was on November 1st.  

The festival marked the end of summer and the beginning of dark cold winters.  The Celtic people believed that on the night before the new year, the ghosts of the dead returned to the earth for one night. 

During the festival of Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes. The purpose was that they thought that it was one night a year that they could also predict the future.  They thought that the bonfire and costumes helped them to tell each other’s fortunes.  The Celtic people thought of these spirits as friendly, after all they were ghosts of their relatives.  They set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and lit candles along the side of the road leading up to their houses to help their loved ones find their way back home and then back to the spirit world.

Usually, the night after the Samhain festival, people would use fire from the sacred bonfire to re-light the fires in their home fireplaces.  They thought that this would help to protect them during the winter.  

Many years later, Roman people invaded the area and Christianity spread to the Celtic people that lived there.  By the 9th century, Christian traditions blended together with Celtic traditions, including the Samhain celebrations on November 1st.  

The Christian church called November 1st “All Souls’ Day” and it became a day that was blended together into one festival to honour the dead.

The newly titled, “All Souls Day” was celebrated in a way similar to what had been done to celebrate Samhain. People made big bonfires and dressed up in costumes and had parades.  The costumes that most people dressed up in at the time were of saints, angels and devils. The Middle English word Alholowmesse meant “All Saints’ Day” and later became “All-hallows”. The night before that, October 31st, became known as “All-Hallows Eve” and eventually, Halloween.

When immigrants travelled from the United Kingdom to America in the 1500s and 1600s, they brought Halloween with them. On the east coast of America, new Americans from Europe and Native Americans already living there, started to interact.  Eventually Halloween began to become a blended event again.  This time, it was version of the European version and American version brought together — also called a hybrid.  A hybrid means a thing that is made by combining two different elements.  And so Halloween changed again as it became a new version in America.

People began to hold plays to celebrate the harvest season and they would act out and share stories about the dead and dance and sing.  Some of the practices came from the Celtic Samhain festival and some were Native American practices.  People also told each other’s fortunes, played tricks on each other and told stories about the dead.  

Halloween started to spread from the east coast of America across the country.  Many new immigrants started coming to the United States from Ireland and other places.  As the Irish people, who were ancestors of the Celtic people, spread across the country and the tradition of celebrating Halloween came with them.

In England and Ireland, the celebration of All-Hallows Eve involved dressing up in costumes and going from house to house to ask for money or food.  In America, this became the tradition of trick-or-treating.  

The tradition of dressing up in costumes on Halloween began in old England as well.  In the olden days on All Hallows Eve, people thought that ghosts came back to earth for one day.  They generally tried not to leave their homes on that day, but if they did have to for some reason, they would dress in a costume of a ghost or spirit so that if they did come across a ghost, it would think they were a ghost too.

Another tradition of Celtic people on All Hallows Eve was to leave bowls of food outside their houses so that ghosts would find it and be happy.  As a result, they wouldn’t try to get in the house.  This was the start of the tradition of “Trick-or-treating.”

Trick-or-treating today is a very popular activity.  But in the old days it was not the same activity as it was in Celtic times.  Back then, there were a lot of poor people.  Because so many people were hungry, the government encouraged families who had enough food to put out bowls on Halloween to give the food to the poor instead.  People started doing this and once it became a common practice, more and more people started going door to door to beg for food on All Hallows Eve.  One type of food that people would commonly give out was called “soul cakes”.  People started handing these out to people who knocked on their door in exchange for the poor person making promises that they would say prayers for their dead relatives. 

The tradition of handing out treats became more wide-spread over time, and more and more people joined the practice of “trick-or-treating.”  Eventually, people would play tricks on their neighbours on this night to make them think that ghosts were trying to get into their house.  This grew into all sorts of different tricks and jokes.  But some people did not like to get pranked. In order to prevent tricks being played on them, some neighbours started handing out sweets to make them stop.  

Another common superstition that we practice on Halloween is avoiding crossing paths with black cats.  The idea that black cats cause bad luck came from the Middle Ages.  Back then, many people believed that witches were real.  They thought that if a witch was spotted and being chased, that she would turn into a black cats so that she could escape and no one could know where she was.

In the late 1800s, many people because religious.  Some of the most widespread religions in America at the time did not think that it was good to dress up as ghosts or celebrate the dead on Halloween.  They wanted Halloween to be more of a happy celebration about neighbours and getting together.  They started getting together to host parties and had costumes and games and treats instead of the traditional plays and bonfires and pranking.

Community leaders started encouraging people to stop wearing scary costumes.  Kids started to dress in sweet or funny costumes often instead.  Because of these efforts, in the early 1900s, Halloween lost much of its superstitious and religious elements. Superstitious means believing in and celebrating supernatural beings, like ghosts.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a “baby boom” in America, which means that a lot of babies were born within a short period of time.  This happened after the second world war because soldiers came home and western countries were safe and happy again.  Because there were so many kids born at that time, the parties that used to be held in the town centre or town hall area in past years were now moved to be celebrated in classrooms and house parties where more people could fit comfortably.

Today Halloween is an American tradition and has become incredibly popular.  People spend millions of dollars each year on Halloween candy and decorations.  Halloween is the second most popular western holiday after Christmas  

Is Halloween something that you celebrate in your neighborhood?  Do you like to get dressed up in costumes in October and attend parties?  Well now that you know the history of Halloween, you will know where some of these interesting traditions come from.  Maybe you’ll also think about how interesting it is that traditions change over time, as different people move to different parts of the world and bring traditions with them and how others adopt them and turn them into their own version over time.  It is cool to think that many traditions of Halloween have lasted over 2,000 years and have become widespread in many other countries than the celebration’s Celtic origin. And it is equally interesting to think about how the celebration has changed over time and why.

Regardless, we hope you have a safe and happy Halloween and that you get a chance to have some fun with some of the old and new traditions that are part of this spooky but fun time of year.  Happy Halloween!

The History of Nurses of World War 1 for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are on a battlefield. You are in a trench with other soldiers waiting for the battle to begin. Night has fallen and you and the others are very cold. You look around at the other soldiers. They look nervous, too. Everyone knows the enemy isn’t far away.  Above the trench the sky is filled with dark smoke and small airplanes in battle. You tighten your grip on your rifle. 

In the distance you hear a loud “boom.” You duck into the trench as an enemy round explodes above you. You fall over and look at your arm, and realize you’ve been hurt. Others soldiers on your team have been hurt too. You close your eyes and lie back wondering how you are going to survive. Soon someone lifts you up and carries you to a nearby hospital. You lie on a clean bed with your eyes closed, just hoping you will be alright. Then you hear a kind voice and open your eyes. It’s a woman, a nurse wearing white uniform with a red cross on the front of her hat. “Everything will be alright,” she says, lying a warm cloth on your forehead. She looks at the wound on your arm and starts to work cleaning it. Then she bandages it and gives you a drink of water and some medicine. “I’ll be back in a minute,” she says. “Don’t worry, you’re in good hands now.” You feel relaxed and happy that someone is taking care of you.

All over the world, nurses play an important role in health care.  They help take care of people when they are sick or injured.  Their job can be very difficult and stressful.  But nurses are brave and they work very hard to take care of their patients.  This is true now and was true in the old days as well, and especially during World War 1.

Nursing has always been a difficult job. But it was especially difficult and dangerous work during World War 1. World War 1 was a war between Germany and the allied forces of England, France and America. Both sides had allies, or friends, so many countries were involved in the war. This is why it was called a “world war.” 

Most war nurses were ordinary women that signed up for the job because they wanted to help their country during the war.  Many women became nurses after losing someone special to them, such as a brother or their husband. Some women decided that instead of just being sad, they were going to take action and help out at the battlegrounds.  This was one way that they could help others who were similar to the people that they lost.  It was one way that they could help and also heal their sadness.

During WW1 many nurses didn’t have an education, so they couldn’t write.  Because they couldn’t write there’s not a lot of information about what actually happened to them. Those who told the stories of these nurses amazed others, and so their stories spread and likely changed, sort of like a game of telephone. This is how legends, stories that aren’t always true, often start.  

When the war started in 1914, everyone thought it was going to be short.  Women were expected to wait at home patiently for the men to return.  They were told to, “keep the home fires burning.”  This was a common expression at the time.  Some poorer women went to work in factories. These are a few reasons there weren’t many women at the battlefields to help the wounded soldiers.

But as more young men started dying, more young women wanted to help out.  American women, British women and women from other friendly countries joined in to help.  When women started signing up to become military nurses, they would go to a nursing service near where they lived and ask to join.  These were often in cities where they didn’t live, so they would have to leave home to get training.  They got some basic nursing training and after that, they were sent to the war.  This meant that most of the nurses at the battlefields during WW1 were untrained and therefore, didn’t know a lot about medicine.  That is very different than today, where nurses study at universities and colleges and get clinical training before they are allowed to practice.  At the time of WW1, there were some trained nurses, but it was still very difficult, since most of them had never worked with soldiers before.

Some of the first women to go to the war were wealthy and had the money to start military hospitals.  The most famous of the women that opened and ran a military hospital was the Duchess of Sutherland from England.  Her nickname was Meddlesome Millie, because at the time, some people did not think that women should get jobs and work outside of the home.  They did not want women to be nurses and they resisted the change that was happening.  “Resisted” means to try to stop something from happening.  

But the Duchess of Sutherland and other women like her continued to run their military hospitals and train other women to be nurses.  As more military hospitals were set up and the war continued, more and more women signed up to become nurses. With all their hearts they wanted to do what they could to help. 

In 1915, there was a large battle in Belgium in an area that was very important to both sides in the war. In this battle a lot of men got hurt or killed.  It was the first time an army used poison gas to against the other side, and many, many men were hurt. After this British and American armies started to let more women join the military as nurses.

Today when we see pictures of nurses from that time, with white hats and red crosses on their uniforms, we think of the work as being very clean and exciting.  But in reality, it was very tiring and sometimes disgusting work.  They were very brave women, but it was not a job that got a lot of attention. Nurses worked very hard every day and it was very stressful for them. Also, most women thought World War 1 was going to be short. Instead the war dragged on and on, but the nurses kept helping for many years. 

There were a lot of difficult things that nurses had to deal with at war that they did not have to deal with at hospitals back home.  Soldiers often suffered bullet wounds which were difficult to treat. There were many soldiers who were scared or sad, so the nurses not only fixed their wounds but also comforted them and did what they could to keep them calm and happy. 

Towards the end of the war, a new invention came out to help the soldiers. This invention helped a patient who was out of blood get more blood from someone else. When the healthy person donated the blood, it was shared with the sick person by using a long tube. This invention is still used today and is called a blood transfusion. During the war transfusions were used often and saved many people’s lives. 

When the war ended in 1918, most war nurses left the war service and went home. But back home there were not very many men still alive and well.  Many had died or gotten hurt in the war.  Because of this, many women replaced men in jobs and other roles usually held by men.  These women were very important in helping make things work again. Let us always remember and be grateful to those women and men who sacrificed so much and put their lives at risk to protect their countries and each other.Have you ever thought about the ways that you are brave?  Do you think that bravery is something that develops in people when times are tough?  Or is bravery something that we can all practice?  Like the nurses of WW1, we can all show bravery and try our best to being good to each other.  Helping others when it is needed and taking care of each other is one of the most important things we can all do.

The History of Michael Jordan for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are a basketball player racing down the court with your team. From the stands a huge crowd is watching and cheering and millions more are watching you on TV. You’ve played hard all night. You’re sweating and breathing heavy. Your legs ache and you want to take a break, but you know you’ve got to keep going. It’s the championship game for all colleges across the United States. The game is tied, there are only a few seconds left, and your team is losing by one point! The clock is running. You dodge your opponent to an open spot on the court. The point guard sees you open. The ball is flying across the court toward you. You grab it, jump, take aim for the basket, and shoot. The ball spins gracefully through the air and falls through hoop! You made the shot! The crowd goes wild! With seventeen second left your team wins the game. Your teammates pick you up and carry you off the court in celebration. 

This was the winning moment that made North Carolina freshman Mike Jordan into Michael Jordan, who became the most famous basketball player of all time.  

Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York.  He was the fourth of five children in his family.  When he was just a toddler, his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. When Michael tried out for the school’s basketball team they said his was too short to play and he didn’t make the team.

Instead of feeling bad for himself, Michael worked harder.  He practiced every day and made the team the next year. Eventually he became the star of his basketball team.  He trained very hard and by the time he was in his final year of high school colleges were asking him to come play for them. 

After receiving many offers, Michael accepted a basketball scholarship to North Carolina university. A scholarship is where a college pays for all of your schooling. In college Michael studied geography and played on the basketball team.  He helped his team make it to the championship game. During the final seventeen seconds his team was losing but Michael took a jump shot and won the game! Scoring the winning shot made Michael famous, and after college he joined the Chicago Bulls, a professional basketball team.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, everyone loved to watch Michael Jordan play basketball. Because he could jump so high, he earned the nicknames “Air Jordan”, “His Airness” or just “MJ.” He had amazing leaping abilities and could do slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests. During games he was known for doing trick dunks and dunking over other players. He also used other trick moves like the reverse layup.

During the summer of 1984, Jordan played for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. The team won the gold medal at the games that year, which were held in Los Angeles. In the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona Spain Jordan and his team became known as the “Dream Team” and won their second gold medal there.

Over the years, Michael worked with a number of large brands in their advertisements, including Nike, Hanes, Upper Deck, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Chevrolet and Wheaties. He even acted in a few movies like Michael Jordan’s Playground and Space Jam. The movie mixed live action and animation and had Michael act with cartoon legends Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on screen.  Nike created a whole line of shoes and sports clothes named “Air Jordan” after him. Many kids at the time wanted to be like Michael Jordan and wear the shoes with his name.

In 1985, even though he was a very wealthy basketball player, Jordan knew school was important so made sure he finished the college degree in geography he had started. 

During his second season he tore his ACL and was hurt badly, but after this went on to become the first player since Wilt Chamberlin to score more than 3,000 points in a single season.

In 1989, Michael Jordan was married and later had three children. He was close with his children and taught them to play basketball too. Many years later Michael’s oldest son, Jeffrey, made the basketball team at the University of Illinois. Michael always tried to help his children do their own thing and not feel they needed to be as successful as he was or successful in the same way.  He said that the thing that he has tried to tell his children is that they should set their own expectations. Expectations are strong beliefs of something you want for yourself in the future.

By the late 1980s, the Chicago Bulls were becoming the team to beat and Jordan was a huge part of the team’s success. The Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1990 and won their first NBA championship the following year by beating the Los Angeles Lakers. A NBA superstar, Jordan became known for his power and agility on the court as well as for his leadership abilities.

During his time on the Chicago Bulls team, Michael Jordan led his team to six NBA championships and he won the Most Valuable Player Award in the tournament five times. He became the most famous basketball player in the world and kids everywhere were inspired to play basketball like Michael Jordan and dress like him and wear his number, 23. 

At one game Michael Jordan wore a nameless no. 12 jersey because his no. 23 jersey had been stolen! One funny fact about Michael is he was known for sticking his tongue out when driving to the basket or dunking a ball. 

In 1993 Michael’s father died and this was a very hard time for him and his family. After many years of success playing basketball, Michael retired and decided to play minor league baseball. He played for a team called the Birmingham Barons, as an outfielder. 

In March 1995, after a short time playing baseball, Michael returned to the basketball court, and re-joined the Chicago Bulls.  He eventually helped them win the championship against the Seattle Sonics in the 1995 to 96 season.

In 1997 during the NBA Finals, Michael became sick with the flu. Many didn’t know if he would play this very important game against the Utah Jazz. His trainers told him he should take a break and get feeling better. But Michael wanted to help his team and played anyway. There were many times where he could barely stand during the game, but he ended up scoring 38 baskets and helped his team win the game.

The next year was 1998 and Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were in the last game of the NBA Finals again. This would be Jordan’s last game playing for The Bulls. The Bulls were losing to the Utah Jazz by one point and there were only 5 seconds left before the game was over. Jordan maneuvered back and forth, then took a jump shot and made the basket! The Bulls won the game thanks to Michael! 

After retiring from the Bulls, Jordan played a few years later for the Washington Wizards. He donated all of the money he made to families and those who suffered during the September 11th attacks.

In April 2009, Jordan received one of basketball’s greatest honors: He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Attending the induction ceremony was a happy but sad time for Jordan because being at the event meant “your basketball career is completely over,” he explained.

In 2003, Michael retired from basketball for a second time.  He decided to focus on his businesses, including owning a basketball team.

Michael Jordan is still considered a basketball legend.  He was known for his competitiveness and his very strong work-ethic.  He spent hours watching videos of his opponents so that he could learn how to defend them. He also had a special “Love of the Game Clause” written into his basketball contracts that said he was allowed to play basketball against anyone at any time, anywhere. This was rare and unusual for a player to request, but Michael loved basketball so much that he didn’t want to be limited by his contract from what he could do.

Michael Jordan was successful because he had natural talent and a drive to succeed.  He worked hard every day at his goal of becoming the best basketball player in the world.  People respected his work ethic and his drive helped him become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Remember, he didn’t make the basketball team the first time, but kept working at it until he became better despite being short at the time.  

One of the Michael Jordan’s most famous quotes is: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Even if you fail at something, that is okay, because you tried. Everyone who is good at anything has failed many times, but they kept trying and trying and getting better. Not doing something right the first time is okay. You’ll never become better at anything if you aren’t afraid to mess up sometimes.

Is there something that you love to do that you would like to become even better at?  Is there a sport or activity that you would like to turn into a career when you are older?  Practice those things that are interesting to you and focus on becoming the best that you can.  The important thing, as Michael Jordan said to his own kids, is to set your own goals and your own expectations for yourself.

History of Irving Berlin for Kids

Have you ever thought about how music is made? Some of the classic hits that we all hear regularly were once ideas in someone’s head.  How do these turn into the songs we hear on the radio today?

Tonight we are going to learn about an immigrant named Irving Berlin who later became one of America’s greatest songwriters. America has always been called a “land of immigrants” because ever since the beginning of our nation, immigrants have come here to start new lives with their families.An immigrant is someone who moves from one country to another. 

Irving Berlin was born May 11, 1888 in Russia. Irving Berlin’s family were of the Jewish religion. It was not an easy thing to be Jewish in Russia when Irving was little because Jews were persecuted for their beliefs. Persecuted means to not be treated fair or nice. Some were beaten, made fun of, and even had their things taken from them and destroyed. One of Irving’s first memories is sitting on the side of the road watching his house burn down. It was a scary time, so when Irving was only 5 years old, his Mom and Dad decided to move away from persecution and move to America in 1893.

Back in those days, the only way to get across the ocean to the United States was to sail on big steamships. These journeys were very dangerous and could take several weeks. Many times they would run into big storms and the ship captains had to watch for icebergs along the way. People would get seasick on the boat and some of the passengers would even die. But Irving‘s parents knew that if they could make it to America they would have a chance for a better life; so they took the risk and took their young family across the ocean.

Irving’s family settled in the big city of New York. New York was a bustling city even back then, and had lots of people and crowded streets. Life was hard for Irving and his family. It was a new place they had never been before; they had to learn a new language because they didn’t speak English. They were very poor and lived in a basement of a small apartment. Irving’s dad had a hard time finding a job to earn money and did anything he could to earn money to support his family. Everyone in the family had to work hard just to get enough money to buy food. When Irving was only 8 years old, he went to work as a newspaper boy. He had 3 sisters that had to work too. Can you imagine having to work a real job at 8 years old?

On the way home after his first day on the job, Irving decided to go to the shipyard and look at the big ships that were getting ready to set sail. A big swinging crane that loads up the ships with cargo accidently swung around and knocked him into the water. When the men that worked at the shipyard pulled Irving out of the water, he was still holding onto the 5 pennies he had earned that day. He had worked so hard for that money, that he did not want to let it go.

When Irving was 13 years old, his father died.  He was sad but he also worried about his family.  Irving felt like he needed to move out of the home and support himself so his mom wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of him and feeding him. So at 14 years old, Irving left home and slept in a homeless shelter with other newspaper boys.

Irving always loved to sing and was taught to sing at an early age by his father. His dad was a cantor. A cantor is someone who leads the singing and prayer at a synagogue, which is the name for a Jewish church. When Irving was selling newspapers on the streets he learned lots of different songs and sometimes he would sing on the streets and in the saloons, café’s and restaurants. Customers would throw him pennies because they liked his songs. 

Irving paid close attention to the people who threw money for him and figured out what kind of songs people liked best.  He was very smart and figured out which songs would give him the most money and he would sing more of those songs. Pretty soon, Irving was singing full time as a job. He worked hard and long, and he later said one of the reasons he did was so he could buy his mother a rocking chair. He knew she didn’t have the money to buy one for herself and he thought it would make her happy.

In his spare time and when the restaurants were closed, Irving would ask the owners if he could play their pianos. Irving taught himself to play the piano, and soon was singing, playing and putting on shows in the restaurants, music halls and city squares. He also learned from others how to make up new songs and write music.

Irving’s first big hit was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”. Ragtime music was very popular back then. It was music that marched and bounced. People loved his song. Irving’s music was being made into records and people loved to buy them because his music was great to dance to.  After this hit song, people knew Irving’s name and he became famous.

In 1917, America entered a big war that was going on in Europe. This war was called “the Great War” and later became known as World War I. Irving Berlin was asked to do a special mission for the United States Army; to write songs for a group that would perform for soldiers. The Army and Country’s leaders knew that music helped to keep the soldiers happy and inspired.

One of the songs he wrote at this time was a song called “God Bless America”, but he didn’t add it to the show. Not until 20 years later, he released the song to the public for the first time; It was during the Great Depression and right before World War II. A depression is a time when there are not very many jobs and lots of people are poor and hungry. “God Bless America” became very popular and it meant a lot to people who had been struggling for years. The people felt that even though they had lived through hard times, God still helped them and loved them. Today, the song is still beloved and sung at very special events like the 4th of July.

Irving Berlin loved America. To love your country is to be patriotic. He once said he owed all his success to his adopted country. He also said he wrote “God Bless America” as “an expression of my feeling toward the country to which I owe what I have and what I am.”

Irving Berlin wrote many many more very popular songs. He wrote songs for the radio, movies, musical plays, Broadway and other shows. People sang his songs everywhere. He was the most successful songwriter of his time and people still sing his songs, many not even knowing who wrote them. One of his other most famous songs is the very popular Christmas tune “White Christmas”. There are lots of beautiful versions of this song, but the one we hear most today is the version sung by the famous singer Bing Crosby.

Irving Berlin knew that music can be very powerful. Music can tell stories and music can make us feel better. It can lift us up when we are sad. It reminds us of people we love and places we want to visit. Music sparks imagination and creativity. Irving Berlin understood that music is very important and he wanted to fill the world with good and uplifting music. He won several awards for his music and many historians call Irving Berlin, “America’s Songwriter” because of how his music has changed and influenced America.

Irving Berlin died in New York City at the age of 101 years old. He had lived a long and happy life, and had blessed many lives with his music. Even though Irving became very famous and rich, he never forgot his childhood and living on the streets. He felt that having those hard experiences and not always getting what he wanted made him a better person; it made him grateful for what he had. He believed that America was the land of opportunity. From Irving Berlin we learn that with hard work and dedication you can better your life and make a difference.

Do you enjoy singing to music you hear on the radio?  Have you ever thought of writing your own songs?  These are things that Irving Berlin because he loved music and was inspired to learn how to make it himself.  He taught himself to sing and play piano and write songs.  If he taught himself to do that, you can too!  We are all capable of great things if we are dedicated to our goals and strive to reach them.

History of Dr. Seuss for Kids

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.”  Have you heard this rhyme before?  It is one of the most famous rhymes in the whole world.  It was written by a man named Dr. Seuss.  But he didn’t write it because he was inspired.  He wrote it on a dare from his boss that he could not write a book using only 50 words.  Dr. Seuss took on that challenge and wrote what became one of his most famous books, Green Eggs and Ham.  Dr. Seuss was a dreamer and a poet and he got his start as a young child in Massachusetts where his parents inspired him with a love of being creative and making silly rhymes.

Dr. Seuss’s real name was Theodor Seuss Geisl and he was born on March 2, 1904.  His dad was a successful brewmaster, making drinks that he sold in around the state.  His mom stayed home and took care of little Theodor.  She liked to make up funny rhymes and would entertain him by making funny poems about pie flavours.

After the brewery closed, Dr. Seuss’s father began running the local zoo in his hometown. Dr. Seuss liked to visit his dad at work and when he got home he would try to draw the animals he saw on his walls.  Dr. Seuss took his first art class in high school and like to draw cartoons.

Another funny thing about his childhood, was that his dad liked to dream up complicated inventions in his spare time.  One of them he called a “Silk-Stocking-Back-Seam-Wrong-Detecting Mirror.”  It was this kind of funny writing, inventing and drawing that would later help make Dr. Seuss’s books so popular.

At age 18, Dr. Seuss left home to attend Dartmouth College, where he became the editor of its comedy magazine, Jack-O-Lantern.  An editor is someone who is in charge of what pictures and stories go into a newspaper or magazine. However, Dr. Seuss got in trouble in college for breaking one of the rules. His punishment was that he wasn’t allowed to work for the magazine.  That was when he decided to start using a fake name in his writing.  He started to send in comics and publish them under the pseudonym “Seuss.”  A pseudonym is a fake name that authors use to hide their identity.  Dr. Seuss added the word doctor to the front of his pseudonym because his father always wanted him to become a doctor at college.

After he finished his degree, Dr. Suess moved to England to train to become a professor.  A professor is someone who teaches and does research at a university or college.  However, after taking this program for a while, Dr. Seuss decided this was not the right career for him.  He met his future wife, Helen Palmer, when they were both at college.  She was studying English.  They decided to get married and they  moved back to the United States that same year in 1927.

Back in the United States, Dr. Seuss and Helen moved into an apartment in New York City, and Dr. Seuss started working as a cartoonist.  A cartoonist is someone who draws pictures for comics and movies or commercials.  He had his articles and pictures published in many magazines, including LIFE and Vanity Fair, which are very famous magazines.

People liked Dr. Seuss’s comics so much that he was hired to a full-time position making his comics and pictures for a newspaper.  Dr. Seuss next worked for an advertising company, where he worked for the next 15 years making cartoons for ads. One of his ads became famous across the whole country.  It was an ad for bug spray involved a catchphrase that said “Quick, Henry, the Flit!”  People thought the punchline was so funny, that the same ad characters were the company’s ad for 17 years.   Even though he was very busy with these projects, Dr. Seuss also worked from home drawing pictures for other people’s children’s books.

Dr. Seuss began creating children’s books of his own because it was one of the few creative projects that his job in advertising allowed him to do.  He also wrote for children because he loved kids and he wanted to help them learn to read. 

Although he loved kids, Dr. Seuss and his wife were not able to have children. This made Dr. Seuss sad and some of his books are dedicated to fake children that he wished were his own.

Dr. Seuss published his first children’s book, in 1937.  Published means when someone makes a book so it can be sold to others.  His first book was called, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.  It was rejected 27 times before it was finally published.

At the start of World War II, Dr. Seuss  began making weekly political cartoons and submitting them to magazines. In 1942, when many American men joined the army and went to fight in the war, Dr. Seuss was too old to fight, so instead he worked making cartoon training movies and drawing pictures for army advertisements.  At this time, he moved to California, and that was where the training movies he worked on were made.  Dr. Seuss lived in California for the rest of his life.

After the war was over, Dr. Seuss and Helen bought an old observation tower in La Jolla, California, and turned it into a home. An observation tower is a tall building used to view events and views from a long distance.  It is usually at least 20 feet tall and is made of brick or stone.  In his tall home, Dr. Seuss created a writing space and he would write for at least eight hours a day, taking breaks to take care of his garden.  Dr. Seuss wrote and threw out between 500-1,000 pages during the first draft of a picture book. 

Dr. Seuss’s phone number was one digit off from the local fish store at the time.  To be funny, when someone called his house accidentally, looking for the fish store, Dr. Seuss would sometimes send the caller a drawing of the fish they ordered, instead of telling them to hang up and call the right number of the fish store.

Over the next fifty years, Dr. Seuss wrote many books in his home.  His funny style, using simple words and funny rhyming became very popular with his readers.  He wrote a lot of very famous books including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. His rhymes and characters were loved by many people.  And many children learned to read better by reading his books.

Dr. Seuss wrote over 60 books and some of them were even turned into movies, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat and  The Lorax.  After Dr. Seuss published How the Grinch Stole Christmas, he got himself a licence plate for his car that said “GRINCH”.  Have you read this book or seen this movie?  It is about the Whos who live down in Who-ville and like Christmas a lot . . . but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT! This story from 1957 is about how the Whos teach the Grinch to love the spirit of Christmas and teaches us all about the importance of doing good deeds. It was made into a tv movie in 1966 and is still one of the most popular Christmas shows.

Some of Dr. Seuss’s other books that you may have read include, ‘One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish’, ‘Horton Hears a Who!’, and ‘Fox in Socks’.

Dr. Seuss’s wife ran the business side of his book publishing during their life together.  Unfortunately she died in 1967.

Dr. Seuss got married again, this time to a woman named Audrey, who was a film producer.  A film producer is someone who makes movies and Audrey later helped make some of Dr. Seuss’s books into movies, including The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who!

Dr. Seuss won many awards for his books, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and an Academy Award.  The Pulitzer Prize was given to him for “his special contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents.”  He was the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize for writing children’s books.

Throughout his career, cartoonist and writer Dr. Seuss published over 60 books.  One of the most famous quote from his books says, ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  It is important to always read as much as you can.  Dr. Seuss learned to be a good writer and to make funny stories and pictures from his love of reading and drawing when he was a child.  He wanted children around the world to be inspired to love reading the way that he did, so he made books that he thought they would find funny and would be easy for them to read.

In 1991, when Dr. Seuss was 87 years old, he died in La Jolla, California. Today, his books are still extremely popular and his drawings and artwork hangs in galleries around the world next to some of the most famous painters of all time.

Dr. Seuss had great success in his life because he was very dedicated to his writing and drawing.  Dedicated means to be focused on something important to you and to work very hard at it.  Dr. Seuss also showed a lot of resilience.  Even though his first book was rejected 27 times, he continued to try and try again to get his book published until eventually it was successful.  Dr. Seuss was also not afraid to be himself.  His writing was funny and different than what other people were writing at that time.  But he continued to be himself and let his personality shine.  And that led to his great success in storytelling.  One of his books has a great quote to remember about being yourself, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” 

Think about the things that make you special and that you enjoy.  Do you like writing or drawing?  Do you like making funny stories, comics, telling jokes or making rhymes?  There are many ways to be creative and all of them can be equally fun.  The important thing is to find creative hobbies that you enjoy and if there is something you would like to be good at, to practice as much as you can.  By practicing, you get better and better at what you do and it is how all great art is made.  You can be and do whatever creative thing you like if you just put your mind to it and keep practicing!

The Story of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Making of Hamilton

Have you heard about the musical Hamilton? Maybe you’ve seen the movie on Disney Plus, listened to the music, or actually seen a live performance. My kids and I enjoy listening to the music. It’s catchy and fun to sing along, and what’s also great is we learn something new while having a good time together! The musical Hamilton has been seen on Disney Plus and Broadway millions of times and has come to be one of the most popular musicals of all time. But how did the musical come to be? Do you know who wrote the story and lyrics and music? If you guessed Lin-Manuel Miranda you were right!

Lin-Manuel Miranda was born January 16, 1980 in New York, New York. 

Lin-Manuel’s parents were from Puerto Rican. Puerto Rico is an island and U.S. territory in the Carribean. Lin-Manuel  grew up in a Hispanic neighbourhood in northern Manhattan with his family. His unique name was inspired by a poem about the Vietnam War . His father worked in politics and helped  several of the mayors of New York City, and his mother was a psychologist. They often played salsa and show tunes, which are songs from musicals, at home.. 

During childhood and his teens, Lin-Manuel spent at least one month each year with his grandparents in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. Lin-Manuel attended Hunter College Elementary School and Hunter College High School. He wrote some of his first musicals while growing up in school. 

Lin-Manuel saw his first Broadway musical, Les Misérables, when he was seven, and it made a life-long impression on him. His tastes also ran to hip-hop and R&B, and he became an excellent rapper. In high school he won the lead role in the musical The Pirates of Penzance and was very active in the school’s drama program. 

In school he met Stephen Sondheim, who later became a mentor to him, along with fellow musical-theatre legend John Kander. Lin-Manuel went on to study theatre at Wesleyan University, where he continued to perform in musicals and to write his own songs and shows.

It was there in 1999 that he wrote the first draft of his musical In the Heights, which was set in Washington Heights, a northern Manhattan neighbourhood similar to that of his own childhood. At college Lin-Manuel wrote and directed several other musicals and acted in many other productions, ranging from musicals to Shakespeare.

After graduating from college in 2002, Lin-Manuel  started an acting career, appearing in films and on television. He also performed with a hip-hop improvisation group, Freestyle Love Supreme around New York City and at festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

At this time Lin-Manuel  continued to develop In the Heights with his friend Thomas Kail. The musical blended hip-hop and salsa. Lin-Manuel wrote the music and lyrics for the show. He also co-wrote a book with Quiara Alegría Hudes that is the complete script and all the song lyrics from the show. 

In the Heights opened Off-Broadway in February 2007 and ran until July, with Lin-Manuel in the lead role. It won two Drama Desk Awards. In the Heights had its Broadway debut in March 2008 and won four Tony Awards, including those for best musical and best original score. They also nominated the show for the Pulitzer Prize for drama, and its original-cast recording won the 2008 Grammy Award for best musical show album. 

Also, In the Heights will be available to everyone as a movie in theaters and on HBO in June 2021.

While Lin-Manuel was on vacation in 2008, he read a book about the U.S. Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. The biography was written by Ron Chernow and told Hamilton’s life story. Lin-Manuel was inspired by Hamilton’s life, from his difficult childhood in the Caribbean island to his move to New York and the part he played in the American Revolution,  eventually becoming the U.S. secretary of the treasury. Lin-Manuel saw an important story that needed to be told and the wheels in his head started to turn. 

In Alexander Hamilton’s story, Lin-Manuel saw one that was very similar to that of the simple beginnings of many famous rappers. It inspired him to write a rap about Alexander Hamilton. In 2009 he later performed it for  the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word before President Barack Obama and others.

Lin-Manuel later said he spent a year writing the Hamilton song “My Shot”, changing it countless times for every verse to reflect Alexander Hamilton’s smarts. By 2012, Lin-Manuel was performing an extended set of pieces based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, which he then referred to as the Hamilton Mixtape. The New York Times called it “an obvious game changer”.

The resulting show, which Lin-Manuel called “Hamilton” was smart, energetic, catchy, and immediately popular with audiences, and featured a racially diverse cast, with Lin-Manuel starring in the main role of Alexander Hamilton. In January 2015 the musical opened Off-Broadway at New York City’s Public Theater. It was so successful it made an early move to Broadway in July.

In 2016 they awarded Hamilton the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and that year it received an outstanding 16 Tony nominations, which rarely happens. Lin-Manuel earned several nods, including best actor in a leading role in a musical. The production eventually won 11 Tonys, falling one short of the record. They named Hamilton best musical, and Lin-Manuel won for best book and best original score. 

On March 15, 2016, members of the cast of Hamilton performed at the White House and hosted workshops; Lin-Manuel performed freestyle rap from prompts held up by President Obama. Later In 2016, Miranda and Jeremy McCarter published Hamilton: The Revolution, a book describing Hamilton’s journey from idea to Broadway success. In July 2016 Lin-Manuel appeared for the last time in the show.

The following year the musical opened in London’s West End, where it was a critical and commercial success. It won seven Olivier Awards, including best new play. In addition, Lin-Manuel garnered the award for outstanding achievement in music. 

In 2017 Hurricane Maria hit the Carribean Islands. It was the worst recorded hurricane in history in that area of the world. Many lives and property was lost.  To help, Lin-Manuel briefly returned to his role as Alexander Hamilton in Puerto Rico and used the money made from the shows to help the people there. Lin-Manuel had been active in helping the people of Puerto Rico and the arts there over the years. 

Have you seen the Disney movie Moana? Lin-Manuel wrote the song “How Far I’ll Go” and sings parts of it. In the movie Mary Poppins Returns, he played Mary Poppins sidekick and chimney sweep, Bert. He also starred in the HBO TV series His Dark Materials. Today Lin-Manuel continues today to work on many projects with different studios, including Disney.

Lin-Manuel is an outstanding example of someone who found a talent he enjoyed and dedicated his life to improving it. Can you believe he spent a year working on the songs “Alexander Hamilton” and “My Shot”? Great things don’t come easy. Often they start off very imperfect and need to be worked on over and over until they improve with time and focus. He also wasn’t afraid to take risks by being original. Many of his close friends told him his idea for Alexander Hamilton wouldn’t work. A rap-musical about a founding father was a very unique and bold idea! But he kept working at it anyway until it was a great success!

Once Lin-Manuel reached fame and stardom, he didn’t only use the money he made for his own benefit. He has found many ways to give back to the communities he grew up in and places like Puerto Rico when it was hit by a devastating hurricane. He has also worked with charities that help children who are in foster care and are being adopted. 

What is something that you love to do? Think of what your next project might be related to your interests and set a goal. Plan out how you might work on that project each day until it becomes something better each time, so then you can share it like Lin-Manuel.