Books For Kids — Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words

by K.M. Koystal and Benjamin Franklin, Illustrated by Fred Harper

Discover history through the eyes of one of the smartest, funniest, and coolest figures from America’s past. Ben gives sage advice on everything from good citizenship, manners,  friendship, and being happy. 

Ben Franklin & the Magic Squares

By Frank Murphy, Illustrated by Richard Walz

A funny, entertaining introduction to Ben Franklin and his many inventions, including the story of how he created the “magic square.” A magic square is a box of nine numbers. They are arranged so that any line of three adds up to the same number, even on the diagonal. 

What’s the Big Idea Ben Franklin

By Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Margaret Tomes

A fun historic tale by Newbery Honor-winning author, Jean Fritz! No matter how busy he was, Ben Franklin always found time to try out new ideas. A man of many talents, he was an ambassador, a printer, an almanac maker, a politician, and even a vegetarian (for a time.)

When I Grow Up: Benjamin Franklin

By Annmarie Anderson, Illustrated by Gerald Kelley

Benjamin Franklin is one of America’s most beloved Founding Fathers and a man of many talents. He is most well-known for discovering electricity. But he was also an author, and editor, a printer, and a diplomat. And he invented many things we still use today. This book takes the reader on an exciting journey from Ben’s childhood to his adulthood as a famous American.

Who Was Ben Franklin

By Dennis Brindell Fradin, Illustrated by John O’Brien

Ben Franklin was the scientist who, with the help of a kite, discovered that lightning is electricity. He was also a statesman, an inventor, a printer, and an an author. He was a man of such amazingly varied talents that some people claimed he had magical powers. 

Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

By Gene Barretta

What would you do if you lived in a community without a library, hospital, post office, or fire department? If you were Ben Franklin, you’d set these up yourself. Franklin also designed the lightning rod. He suggested the idea of daylight savings time. And he invented bifocals. All were inspired by his common sense and intelligence. 

Benjamin Franklin (Giants of Science)

By Kathleen Krull, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Benjamin Franklin was a famous inventor and multitasker. He’s best remembered as one of America’s Founding Fathers. But he was also a scientist. And his experiments led to important discoveries about the nature of electricity. He famously demonstrated that electricity and lightning are one in the same. 

John, Paul, George & Ben

By Lane Smith

Once there were four lads…John [Hancock], Paul [Revere], George [Washington], and Ben [Franklin]. Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around. These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few…liberties. And to be honest, they were not always appreciated. This is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers.

You may also like: Ben Franklin Invented Swim Fins at https://www.barbaralowell.com/ben-franklin-invented-swim-fins

Ben Franklin Runs Away

https://www.barbaralowell.com/ben-franklin-runs-away

The book descriptions used are primarily from the publishers.

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Ada Lovelace — First Computer Programmer

Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.

Ada was born in England on December 10, 1815, the daughter of the famous and reckless poet Lord Byron. Soon after she was born, her parent’s marriage ended. Ada never saw her father again.

Her mother, Anne Isabella Milbanke had a great interest  in mathematics. Byron called her the Princess of Parallelograms. Anne Isabella steered her daughter away from poetry and into mathematics and science.

Ada Lovelace

Ada’s mother discouraged her imagination fearing that she might end up like her father. But Ada had a wonderful imagination. She decided that she would learn how to fly by studying birds’ anatomy. Ada made a set of wings. She wrote and illustrated her own book called Flyology and designed a flying mechanical horse.

Lord Byron

In 1829, Ada became temporarily paralyzed after having measles. She improved her math and science skills while bedridden. At age sixteen, restored to health, Ada was introduced to English society. She met famous scientists and became friends with the engineer Charles Babbage.

Babbage invented a machine called the Difference Engine. It worked like a giant calculator. He then designed a more complex machine he called the Analytical Engine. Babbage thought that the Analytical Engine would solve difficult mathematical calculations. The machine would then store these calculations. And it would also print them.

The Analytical Engine

Ada translated an article written about the Analytical Engine into English. She added her own notes. These notes contained an algorithm that would allow the machine to work. Ada’s algorithm is considered to be the first computer program.

The Analytical Engine was too expensive to build. But it is considered to be the first computer. And Charles Babbage is acknowledged as the “father of the computer.”

Charles Babbage designed his Analytical Engine to be capable of working with numbers. But Ada thought the machine had much greater possibilities. She envisioned it producing music, art, and writing, like modern computers.

Sadly, Ada died at age 36. Although she never met her father, she requested to be buried next to his grave in England.

To Learn More About Babbage’s Engines, Visit: http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/engines/

Books For Kids About Ada Lovelace:

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace,

the World’s First Computer Programmer

by Fiona Robinson

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by April Chu

Ada Lovelace Poet of Science

by Diane Stanley, Illustrated by Jessie Hartland

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Mr. Eiffel’s Tower

Gustave Eiffel, engineer and architect, called “the magician of iron,” was known in 19th century France for building bridges and solving intricate engineering problems. We know Eiffel today as the man who built the Eiffel Tower, the iconic symbol of Paris and of France. But the Eiffel Tower was not the first tower that Gustave Eiffel built. In 1881, he began work on a tower that we cannot see from the outside. It is the internal framework and support system for the Statue of Liberty. 

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Eiffel owned his own company when a world’s fair, to be called the 1889 Exposition Universelle, was planned. The fair would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. A centerpiece for the fair that would attract attention was needed.

Two of Eiffel’s engineers designed a tower they thought would be a fitting centerpiece. At first Eiffel was unimpressed. But when his master architect added decorative features to the tower design including: a cupola, arches, and a glass pavilion, Eiffel thought the design would work.

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Gustave Eiffel

A contest was held to award a commission to build the fair’s centerpiece. It seemed from the start that the contest was set up to make Eiffel the winner. The design restrictions met all of the Eiffel Company’s designs.

Eiffel was given approval to build the tower on the Champs-de-Mars, a green space near the Seine River. But the amount of money awarded for construction was significantly less that what was needed.

Eiffel had to find investors. Fortunately, the French government gave him the rights to the tower for twenty years. He would keep all the money generated and repay his investors.

When the tower design was announced, it was immediately discounted as a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal” and a “ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack.” The French arts and intellectual community it seemed were unhappy. But construction began in January 1887 despite the protests.

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The foundation was completed in June.  Now the iron tower could be built. Over 5,000 design drawings were needed. And over 18,000 different parts were manufactured off site. They were moved by horse-drawn carts. 132 ironworkers constructed the tower’s three levels. Construction took less than two years.

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In March 1889, most of the work was finished. Eiffel celebrated by climbing to the top of the tower. He climbed the 1,710 steps since the elevators were not yet operating. He raised the French flag and listened to the 25-gun salute below.

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The tower stood 984 feet tall making it the tallest structure in the world — taller than the Washington Monument, the previous record holder. The record held for 41 years until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built. Of course, now there are many larger structures.

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Today, just under 7 million people a year visit the Eiffel Tower, making it the most visited paid monument in the world.

To learn more visit: http://visiteiffeltower.com/construction/

A Book For Kids:

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Gustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea: The Eiffel Tower

by Sharon Katz Cooper, Illustrated by Janna Bock

See the Eiffel Tower’s construction in photos.

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Books For Kids — Scientists!

Maria’s Comet

by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Deborah Lanino

Maria longs to be an astronomer. She imagines all the strange worlds she can travel to by looking through her papa’s telescope. One night Maria gets her chance. For the first time, she sees the night sky stretching endlessly above her. Her dream of exploring constellations seems close enough to touch. This story is inspired by the life of Maria Mitchell, America’s first woman astronomer.

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On A Beam Of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein

by Jennifer Berne

Travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. This is a moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.

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The Librarian Who Measured The Earth

by Kathryn Lasky

This is a colorfully illustrated biography of the Greek philosopher and scientist Eratosthenes. He compiled the first geography book. And accurately measured the globe’s circumference.

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Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries

by Don Brown

Before the word “dinosaur” was ever coined, a young girl discovered a remarkable skeleton on the rocky beach at Lyme Regis in England. This discovery became her passion. She became one of the first commercial fossil collectors. Born in 1799, Mary Anning spent a lifetime teaching herself about fossils. She combed the rugged shore near her home and found a treasure trove of fossils. These long-extinct creatures excited early paleontologists.

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Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Young Carl Sagan went to the 1939 World’s Fair. His life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe. He sought to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl from his days star gazing from his Brooklyn apartment. Through his love of science fiction novels. To his work as an renowned scientist. Carl worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space.

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Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

by Claire Nivola

Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl. She discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico. As an adult, she dives even deeper. She designs submersibles, swims with whales, and takes deep-water walks. Sylvia has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.”

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Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved the Mystery That Baffled All of France

by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

American inventor Benjamin Franklin is upstaged by a compelling and enigmatic figure: Dr. Mesmer. In elaborately staged shows, Mesmer, wears a fancy coat of purple silk. He carries an iron wand. And he convinces the people of Paris that he controls a magic force. It can cure illness and thoughts. But Ben Franklin is not convinced. Will his practical scientific approach get to the bottom of the mysterious Mesmer’s tricks?

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Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World

by Tracy Fern, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Barnum Brown’s parents named him after the circus icon P.T. Barnum. They hoped he would do something extraordinary. And he did! He worked as a paleontologist for the American Museum of Natural History. He discovered the first documented skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. And most of the dinosaurs on display there today.

The book descriptions used are primarily the publishers.

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Vivien Thomas Saved “Blue Babies”

In Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, author Gwendolyn Hooks tells the story of how a former carpenter developed a life-saving medical procedure. The surgical technique allowed babies born with the condition tetralogy of Fallot, or blue baby syndrome, to live.

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Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas was born in 1910 into a segregated American south. He dreamed of a career in medicine. Vivien saved for college working alongside his carpenter father. But when the stock market crashed in 1929, he lost his savings.

Not giving up on his dream, he interviewed for a position at the Vanderbilt University Hospital. He would work with Dr. Alfred Blalock as a surgical research technician. Vivien was not told when hired that he would receive less pay than the white research technicians. His official classification was “janitor.”

Vivien quickly learned to conduct experiments independently. He became an indispensable assistant to Dr. Blalock. The doctor was then offered the Chief of Surgery position at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He accepted only if Vivien would be his research technician.

The move to Baltimore from Nashville was difficult for Vivien and his family. They met with increased segregation. They found it difficult to rent an apartment. In her book Gwendolyn Hooks writes: “Vivien refused to let the prejudice of others interfere with his work.”

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Drs. Blalock and Taussig

Dr. Helen Taussig, a pediatric cardiologist spoke to Dr. Blalock. She asked if he could devise a procedure for her young heart patients. This procedure would involve open-heart surgery. Dr. Blalock gave the assignment to Vivien.

Vivien studied the hearts of blue babies in a pathology museum. He noted the defects that prevented blue blood from entering the lungs for oxygenation. He decided that a procedure that he and Dr. Blalock had tried at Vanderbilt would be the answer.

A shunt would connect an artery from the heart with an artery going to the lungs. Vivien next made a small needle. It could be used on babies to suture the arteries. Then Vivien successfully performed the procedure on animals.

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Vivien Thomas Stands On A Stool Behind Dr. Blalock

The first procedure on a baby was conducted on November 29, 1944. Vivien stood on a stool behind Dr. Blalock directing the successful operation.

Over 150 times, he stood behind Dr. Blalock. He answered the doctor’s questions while the doctor performed the operation. The procedure became known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.

The two physicians received national and international recognition. They were nominated for a Nobel prize. But Vivien Thomas’s name was never mentioned.

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Vivien Thomas’s Portrait At Johns Hopkins

It wasn’t until 1971, that Vivien Thomas was publicly recognized for his contribution to medical science. His portrait hangs in the Blalock Building at Johns Hopkins. Directly across the hall is Dr. Blalock’s portrait. Johns Hopkins University honored Vivien Thomas with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1976.

With author Gwendolyn Hooks’s book Tiny Stitches, children can read and learn about the dedicated medical researcher. He overcame racial prejudice to save the lives of “blue babies.” Visit Gwendolyn Hooks at: gwendolynhooks.com

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Vivien Thomas

To learn more, visit Johns Hopkins at: http://www.medicalarchives.jhmi.edu/vthomas.htm

Jason Wright, a future Ken Burns, narrates this wonderful video.

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