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SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Black History Month

February is Black History Month! In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week and then in 1976 President Gerald Ford proclaimed February as “Black History Month.” African Americans have played vital roles in shaping the country’s past and present. We encourage you to observe Black History Month in your classroom and media center by teaching about African Americans. On SIRS Discoverer, young researchers can find articles and images on the accomplishments, history, culture, and heritage of African Americans. Here are samples of what they can find:

Frederick Douglass
George Kendall Warren [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • John Lewis — A vigorous civil rights worker, he has served as a Congressman from Georgia for more than 30 years. He is now the only organizer of the 1963 March on Washington who is still alive.
  • Frederick Douglass — Born into slavery, he was a journalist, public speaker, and well-known antislavery leader.
  • Sojourner Truth — Also born into slavery, she was an advocate for the abolitionist movement and women’s rights.
  • Ralph Bunche — A diplomat and a mediator working for the United Nations, he was the first African-American to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson — These barrier-breaking African-American athletes defied racist attitudes and became trailblazers in their sports.
  • Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison — Award-winning and prolific, these authors wrote about the experiences of African-American women.
  • Ruby Bridges, the Greensboro Four, and the Freedom Riders — These children and students played pivotal roles in the civil-rights movement.

How are you celebrating Black History Month in your library or classroom? Let us know in the comments or tweet us with #ProQuest. 

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: National Poverty in America Awareness Month

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson introduced War on Poverty legislation in his annual State of the Union address. He emphasized improved education as one of the foundations of the program. On August 20, 1964, he signed a $947.5 million antipoverty bill that was intended to help more than 30 million U.S. citizens.

Signing of the EOA

LBJ Signing Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
By US Government (LBJ Library) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

National Poverty in America Awareness Month promotes knowledge and understanding of the realities of poverty in the United States. According to the U. S. Census Bureau in 2015, more than 43 million Americans–13.5 percent of the population–lived in poverty. Reasons are complex and multifaceted and the effects on the nation are immense.

Building in Odessa, Minnesota

Building in Odessa, Minnesota
Photo by Greg Gjerdingen via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

January’s Discoverer Spotlight of the Month explores the issue poverty in the United States. Use this month as an opportunity to examine poverty and perhaps even get involved in local anti-poverty campaigns. Direct your students to featured articles, images and websites to understand the many causes and ramifications of poverty. Dig deeper by researching the devastating Great Depression and the current impact of poverty on youth and families. Explore the Pro/Con Leading Issues: Poverty page as it highlights content for young researchers.

For more in-depth information:
Poverty USA
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
Talk Poverty

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Winter Holidays Around the World

The winter season is here! For many people, the winter season means cold, wind, and snow. Trees may be bare and the ground could be icy. The sun may set sooner, delivering darkness to our late afternoons. Whether you live in a place that’s cold, hot, or somewhere in between, winter means lots of fun holidays and celebrations around the world.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree
Image by Susanne Nilsson via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

These holidays may be associated with religious beliefs, spiritual customs, past events or cultural practices. This diversity makes each holiday very unique. Just think about all of the ways holidays are celebrated! Traditions may include festivals, lights, singing, decorations, parades, gift-giving, prayer, fairs, fasts or feasts. Each holiday has its own symbols, too, such as red lanterns for Chinese New Year, pine trees for Christmas, menorahs for Hanukkah, ears of corn for Kwanzaa, and Yule logs for the winter solstice.

Hanukkah Candles

Hanukkah Candles
Credit: Public Domain

Wonderful holidays full of light, warmth, family, and love have been created out of these cold, dark days. The Jewish holiday Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the miracle of light with family and communal rituals, including the lighting of a Menorah candle each night for eight nights. Christmas, a Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, is observed with family gatherings, songs, and trees decorated with lights representing the Star of Bethlehem. Some families take part in a Kwanzaa ceremony, which incorporates candles, music, food, and blessings. A beautiful luminary can be part of the Mexican observance of Las Posadas.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa
Image by soulchristmas via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

Visit SIRS Discoverer’s Spotlight of the Month and learn more about winter observances and holidays and the many ways that they light and warm our winter months.

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: National Native American Heritage Month

Each November, the United States celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month by honoring Native Americans and their diverse cultures, contributions and achievements. Many achievements and influences can be found in art, music, literature, agriculture, spirituality, and medicine. National American Indian Heritage Month has been a significant national celebration since 1990. This yearly commemoration honors Native Americans’ accomplishments and their role in the development of American culture and society, while recognizing the evolution of the Native American experience and emphasizing the importance of preserving Native traditions and heritage. Visit the November SIRS Discoverer Spotlight and join us in commemorating the cultures and recognizing the hardships of Native Americans. Young researchers can read about Crazy Horse as a child; discover the history of the Sioux tribe; explore the wonders of totem poles, and much more.

Edward S. Curtis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Other topics to research can include:

SIRS Discoverer: Presidential Election for Kids

presidential election

Image via pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

As we all know, this year’s presidential election has been highly contentious and at times “not suitable for children.” However, it is important for young students to be aware and involved with the election process. So how should teachers handle what is happening with the election?

Teaching Seventh Graders in a ‘Total Mess’ of an Election Season (New York Times) discusses how 7th-grade teachers are facing the challenges of how to handle election discussions in their classroom.

Teachers Use Nasty Election to Spark Polite Student Debate (AP) showcases how teachers are using the election to encourage critical thinking and research skills and suggests some ideas for your students:

–Analyze a newspaper article on the election and write two to three paragraphs about it.

–Take a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, tally Clinton and Trump yard signs and write two to three paragraphs about why the student thinks people in the community might support one candidate over the other.

–Interview five people about who they are voting for and write about why they support a particular candidate.

Still need creative ideas for examining the elections is your classroom? Since the articles and images on SIRS Discoverer are hand-picked by editors you will find content that is age-appropriate for your students. Here are some subject searches to get you started:

Clinton, Hillary Rodham

Trump, Donald

Election 2016

Presidential candidates

#FeatureFriday: Editorial Cartoons in SIRS Discoverer

It’s #FeatureFriday! Learn about editorial cartoons in the Spotlight On… feature of SIRS Discoverer.

The origins of editorial cartoons date back to the eighteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, several magazines such as Punch and Harper’s Weekly were publishing editorial and political cartoons. It was during this time that Thomas Nast,  known as the “Father of the American Cartoon,” popularized editorial cartoons with his take-down of corrupt politicians–particularly “Boss” Tweed. Nast is also known for his creation of the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey.

"Boss" Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast.

“Boss” Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Visual Literacy and Common Core Standards

Several forms of literary and visual devices such as exaggeration, personification, symbolism, irony, satire and caricature are often used in editorial cartoons. Because of this, editorial cartoons support dynamic classroom lessons in Visual Literacy. Cartoons invite students to think critically and analyze what they see in the images. Such cartoons also provided an excellent opportunity to evaluate bias and point of view as most cartoonists illustrate their beliefs towards their subjects.

Find Editorial Cartoons on SIRS Discoverer

Editorial and political cartoons are featured throughout SIRS Discoverer on a wide variety of topics. Cartoons are editorially selected from prize-winning and reliable sources. These cartoons can be located through a Subject Heading search and a Subject Tree search. In addition to these searches, a cartoon can be found within the In the News feature (located in the Spotlight On…) where at the beginning of each month, SIRS editors hand-select an editorial cartoon that focuses on a news event. Students are then invited to answer a question based on the featured text and cartoon.

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

Want to know even more about the editorial cartoons? Patrick Chappatte is the cartoonist who is often featured within SIRS Discoverer. Take a look at his TED Talk where he discusses the power of cartoons.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

We are in the midst of Hispanic American Heritage Month! There is so much to know about the Hispanic presence in the United States and its impact on the country’s development and its continued growth. Populations of Hispanic descent have thrived here since 1565, when Spanish explorers founded the Florida city of St. Augustine. That’s 42 years before English explorers arrived in Jamestown. America has always been Hispanic!

While it’s important to delve into the history of the Hispanic American community and meet prominent Hispanic Americans, it is also valuable to learn about from where Hispanic Americans have descended. For example, did you know that the beautiful South American country of Bolivia, ruled by the Inca Empire for centuries, was colonized by Spain in the 1500s? And that the mountainous Central American country of Honduras was once part of the Mayan civilization? Perhaps you can challenge your students to pick a country, research its history and cultures, and present their findings.

Mayan Altar in Honduras

Mayan Altar in Honduras
Image by Dennis Jarvis via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

Or, direct their research with questions so that they can research for answers! Maybe you want to try a history question like “What Central American country was home to the Olmec civilization thousands of years ago? What other ancient civilizations lived in this country and what impact did they have?” Or a cultural question like “What is a quinceanera? It originates from the Spanish word quince, which means what?”

Quinceañera

Quinceañera
Image by Razi Machay via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

This information and much more is available on SIRS Discoverer. During the month of October our Spotlight of the Month highlights Hispanic American Heritage Month. Not only can your students learn about the histories and cultures of Hispanic countries, but they can meet Hispanic American authors, poets, politicians, musicians, civil-rights activists, and more. There’s so much to learn about the United States and the amazing people who compose its beautiful diversity.

Spotlight on the Summer Olympics

summerolympics

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is the first Olympics held in South America.

Let’s take a look at some other Olympic firsts….

1900 Women first competed at the Olympic Games in Paris.

1900 Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera was the first black athlete to compete in the Olympics. He competed for France.

1908 John Taylor, as part of the U.S. relay team in athletics, was the first African-American athlete to win a gold medal.

1912 The Olympics, for the first time, included competitors from all five continents.

1936 The Berlin Olympics were the first games to be televised.

1972 Waldi the dachshund was the first Olympic mascot, appearing at the Munich Olympics.

1984 Professional athletes were first allowed to compete in the Olympics.

2004 The Olympic torch traveled to all five continents for the first time for the Olympics in Athens, Greece.

The Olympics provides several teachable moments for you and your students. This month the SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month focuses on the Olympics. Here you can find articles and images that examine the history of the Olympics as well as editorially selected content for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Notable Canadians

Learning about other countries and exploring their histories and cultures are integral parts of any K12 research. During the month of July, SIRS Discoverer’s Spotlight of the Month features articles and Web sites on the country of Canada. Our Spotlight of the Month presents information on Canada’s provinces and way of life, but it also highlights Canadian people who have influenced our world.

Authors

Several authors used Canadian themes and landscapes into their works. Lucy Maud Montgomery created the popular Anne of Green Gables books. Farley Mowat, best known for his books People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf, often wrote about the Canadian North. Although her works are primarily aimed at adults, Margaret Atwood makes Canada–primarily Toronto–the setting for many of her books.

Artists and Entertainers

Emily Carr (1939) Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends
By Emily Carr (Malahat Review (archive)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Emily Carr painted Canadian landscapes and was often inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Canadian comedians Michael J. Fox, Mike Meyers, and Jim Carrey all started their careers in Canada. They have achieved fame and success all over the world

Scientists

Dr. Birute Galdikas

Birute Mary Galdikas
By Simon Fraser University – University Communications (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfupamr/5577180639/) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Birute Mary Galdikas is a famed primatologist and founder of Orangutan Foundation International.

Canadian scientists Irene Ayako Uchido and Ralph Steinman made great advancements in the field of biology.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space.

Historical Figures

Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain
By Book author: François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, 1787-1874; (Boston: Dana Estes & Charles E. Lauriat (Imp.), 19th C.), 190. Etching signed: E. Ronjat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

French explorer Samuel de Champlain  founded Quebec and Lake Champlain is his namesake.

Laura Secord was a woman who warned Canadian troops about an attack during the War of 1812.

Direct your K12 students and young library patrons to ProQuest SIRS Discoverer and explore all that is Canadian! We are pretty sure that you’ll learn something new about this beautiful and diverse country.

Librarian, Author, Centenarian

Beverly Cleary in 1971

Beverly Cleary in 1971
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Beverly Cleary turns 100 years old on April 12. As a kid growing up in the 1970s one of my favorite authors was Beverly Cleary. I checked out every one of her books from the library, setting me on the road to a lifetime of reading. What captivated so many young readers is her humor in everyday situations. Her characters are imperfect just like real kids. They behave like real families and her two most well-known characters, sisters Ramona and Beezus Quimby treat each other like actual siblings do.

Beverly Cleary started her career as a librarian in Washington. At 33 she decided to become a writer when she didn’t see the books she wanted on the shelves. She wrote series and historical fiction. She also touched on topics that are serious to children, such as divorced parents and bullies at school. She also won numerous awards including the American Library Association’s 1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the Newbery Medal for children’s literature in 1984.

Schools and libraries have been named in her honor and many will celebrate this amazing milestone for an author who has delighted generations of readers.

Celebrate the 100th birthday of Beverly Cleary with your students. Here are some resources to get you started.

In addition, SIRS Discoverer has content to learn more about Beverly Cleary.

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!