Ben Franklin and Liberty's Kids, on DVD

This youth animated adventure is set in the 1700s, and stars Ben Franklin and his teenage apprentices… Sarah, James, Henri, and Moses. Originally airing on PBS, Liberty's Kids tells of young people in dramas surrounding the major events in the Revolutionary War days, and aims to educate those aged 7 to 14.

Visit the show’s website, where you can play Liberty’s Kids related games, make your own newspaper, learn more about your favorite character, or watch an episode.

Some of the voice actors portraying famous historical figures include Liam Neeson, Norman Schwarzkopt, Annette Bening, Billy Crystal, Dustin Hoffman (as Benedict Arnold), Maria Shriver, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Ben Stiller (as Thomas Jefferson), Sylvester Stallone, and Whoopi Goldberg. Now, that sounds interesting!

This is the last week for AADL's Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World exhibit. Be sure to have a peek if you haven't already! It's located Downtown, on the 3rd floor, and in the Multi-Purpose Room. For the kids, stop in the youth department and check out our Ben Franklin Renaissance Kid wall! We've got some activity sheets for kids to work on to learn more about Ben Franklin.

Spy School: Continuing Education

Crafting, sending, and decoding your own spy letters can be a great way to practice writing, reading, and counting skills with an exciting twist! If you were interested by the recent Spy School and Revolutionary War Spycraft events, the exploration and learning can continue through these engaging resources:

First, check out the public lists Codes and Ciphers and Renaissance Kid - Spycraft!. On these lists, you will find a range of items available at AADL. There are books for youth and adults as well as videos for youth.

Next, head to the William L. Clements Library's online exhibit, Spy Letters of the American Revolution. Browse through real spy letters from the 1700s, and learn about the methods of invisible ink, codes, mask letters, and quill letters! Find out the stories of the people behind these fascinating letters, including men and women who spied for and against the American cause. Learn about the history and geography of this time period and the famous and lesser known heroes involved.

For some hands-on fun, practice your own spy letter skills with recipes for invisible ink, instructions for using a dictionary code similar to the code used by the Culper Gang, and a guide to make your own St. Cyr slide (and scroll up and down that page for many more types of codes!). Try sending a Morse code message with a flashlight in the middle of the night. There are forty more codes and spy activities to try in this book! And don't forget, inventing your own code after practicing some of these examples is a great way to stretch your brain and creativity!SpySchoolSpySchool

Author Birthdays: de Saint-Exupéry, Toland, Fallaci

June 29th marks the birthday of authors Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, John Toland, and Oriana Fallaci.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a French author most known for his children's fairy tale The Little Prince. The story has also been turned into a graphic novel and opera.

de Saint-Exupéry also wrote some things for adults, including the memoir Wind, Sand and Stars and the posthumous The Wisdom of the Sands, printed four years after his disappearance in 1944.

John Toland was an American historian, known for his works on WWII, especially the Pulitzer-winning The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. He also wrote a book on the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. In regards to the Japanese people, he was known to have said, "You don't have to take sides. All you have to do is get people's motivations."

Toland also wrote a biography of Adolf Hitler; in order to write the book, he actually interviewed people who had known Hitler. The biography is thought to be something of a "myth-buster."

Oriana Fallaci was an Italian writer and journalist, and opponent of the fascist regime during WWII. Interviews with History and Conversations with Power was compiled after her death and includes interviews with powerful leaders.

Fallaci also wrote some fictional works. These include A Man, which is a historical novel based upon the would-be assassin of a Greek leader, and Inshallah, a novel about Italian soldiers stationed in Beirut.

The Medieval World

Mandylion of EdessaMandylion of Edessa

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe is a new British Museum exhibit that runs through Oct. 9th. It is a collection of incredible objects, many rarely on public view, from the Vatican, British Museum, European churches and museums.

The practice of using devotional objects or relics purportedly from saints for worship became popular during the Middle Ages. Fragments of the True Cross, the St Baudime Reliquary and the Mandylion of Edessa are just a few of the opulent treasures that will be on display.

To celebrate the opening a list was created to highlight related items in the library's catalog. Take a look and enjoy this fascinating time: The Medieval World!

Ben Brilliant: Science Experiments for Kids!

Ben Franklin was a legendary inventor whose imagination and hard work led him to conduct famous scientific experiments and invent many new devices.

Inspire the young scientist in your family with stories of Franklin's experiments and inventions with Gene Barretta's Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions Of Benjamin Franklin, Rosalyn Schanzer's How Ben Franklin Stole The Lightning, and Pamela Nettleton's Benjamin Franklin: Writer, Inventor, Statesman.

Then dig into some experimenting yourself! This website from the Franklin Institute has instructions for experiments with electricity, air, heat, and the glass armonica. If electricity sparks your imagination, there are plenty more experiments on this topic, including how to build your own Leyden jar!

Did you know that Ben Franklin was the first scientist to study the Gulf Stream, a powerful, warm current in the Atlantic Ocean. Take your own voyage on the Gulf Stream with these science and math activities!

If you're a teacher or parent seeking to incorporate educational lessons and experiments inspired by Ben Franklin's life, refer to the PBS Benjamin Franklin Teacher's Guide, a series of eight lesson plans aligned to National Standards.

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Ben Franklin on Video

The Ben Franklin exhibit continues!

Obviously, there are many documentaries on Ben Franklin. One from the History Channel not only features Ben, it also has a snippet from the series Save our History. Another from the History Channel includes a small printed study guide. Ben is even the main subject of one of the discs of the channel's The Founding of America series.

There are also some more interesting DVDs we have that include Ben. Liberty's Kids, a chidlren's TV series from 2002 has Ben as one of its main characters. There is also a short Disney production based on the book Ben and Me.

Two characters that have been named after the real Ben are Benjamin Franklin Pierce, from M*A*S*H, and Benjamin Franklin Gates, from National Treasure.

My personal favorite is either the "Ben Franklin" episode of The Office, or the musical film 1776, starring Howard Da Silva as our beloved Ben.

Poor Richard's Almanack

Poor Richard's AlmanackPoor Richard's Almanack

Almanacs generally contain a calendar of the days, weeks and months of the year, astronomical and climatological information, as well as suggestions for farmers throughout the seasons. Rising and setting times for the sun and the moon, moon phases, planetary information, tide schedules, holidays, and even medicinial remedies are typically included in an almanac as well. Perhaps you are familiar with The Old Farmer’s Almanac? It is still published every year!

Under his pseudonym “Poor Richard” or “Richard Saunders”, Ben Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanack annually from 1732 until 1757. Since almanacs were very popular in colonial times, Ben Franklin felt it was his duty to educate the public. In fact, it was common for the almanac to often be the only publication a person ever purchased. Poor Richard’s Almanack sold as many as 10,000 issues per year. Most notably, Poor Richard’s Almanack is memorable for Ben Franklin’s aphorisms and proverbs emphasizing frugality, good sense and hard work. You can view some scanned pages from original Poor Richard’s Alamanacs here.

“Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water.”
“Beware of little expenses: a small leak will sink a great ship.”
“Be always ashamed to catch thyself idle.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Book Discussion : "The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin"

Please join us for a discussion of The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin on Wednesday June 8, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Leading historian of the American Revolution Gordon S. Wood's illuminating portrait of BF is more of a study than a biography. It follows the twists and turns of Franklin's life - from the commoner to the gentlemen, from Royalist to Patriot - with great insight. We come to see Franklin as complex and often contradictory, and much more interesting than the "mythology that has blinded generations of American to the man he really was".

Author and Psychoanalyst Hans Keilson dies at 101

Hans Keilson, before he became a renowned author last year, was better known as a psychoanalyst and an expert in childhood trauma.

A German-born Jewish doctor, Keilson's medical career was halted with Hitler coming to power. Keilson fled to the Netherlands and joined the Dutch Resistance as counselor for children orphaned by the Holocaust.

His two books gained critical acclaim worldwide after author Francine Prose gave praise to Keilson's books in the New York Times. His first book, Comedy in a Minor Key, was first published in 1947 and re-released in 2010 was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

His second book, The Death of the Adversary, was published in 1959 and became an instant best seller. It gained a brief moment of attention in 1962 after being translated into English and was considered by New Times Magazine as one of the ten best books of the year.

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EMU Professor John G. McCurdy Discusses Ben Franklin's America

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Professor John G. McCurdy will be your guide back in time to the eighteenth-century world that Benjamin Franklin inhabited. Franklin's Boston, Philadelphia, and London were alive with divisive controversies, racial strife, and constant international tension. It was also a time of new media, new ideas, and the creation of the American self. Learn what lessons Ben Franklin's America has for us at the dawn of the millennium.

John G. McCurdy is an Associate Professor of History at EMU and author of "Citizen Bachelors: Manhood and the Creation of the United States" (Cornell, 2009).

Held in conjunction with the Downtown Library May 4 - July 8 exhibit, Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World

Tuesday June 7, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

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