Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One… a Top Ten List of Funny Federal Titles

April 1, 2014

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Davis’ supervisor delivered a challenge to her via email: write a story about humorous government document titles for April Fool’s Day. (Read various stories about the origins of April Fool’s Day here, here and here.) April Fool’s humor has had a long history with American Government, dating back to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (read caption below).

Benjamin Franklin wearing an ostentatious fake moustache for April Fool's Day

According to news humor site “Weekly World News”, the American founding father of April Fool’s Day was Benjamin Franklin. Since Franklin, April 1st has been synonymous in America for a day of practical jokes and general mischief. Tales of his exploits were published in the Philadelphia Gazette on the 1st of April every year. For example, says the site, he was known to give entire public speeches on April 1 wearing an ostentatious fake moustache. ;-) Can you believe it? (Image courtesy of Weekly World News.)- M. Bartram

Says Jennifer: “I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn’t consider them to be laugh-out-loud funny. Or as a colleague said, “They’re not Abbott and Costello funny”. But everyone’s got to laugh some time, right? And when I searched GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), and picked my colleagues’ brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles, too. I found more titles than these ten—but I want to save some for another occasion. There have been a few other lists of humorous government documents, not all of them Federal titles, circulating around the Internet, and so I’ve tried to keep this list as unique as possible.”

(If you like the topic of this column, you should visit the Washington State University’s exhibit, The Lighter Side of…. The Government Printing Office, which runs through June 28, 2014.)

[Michele Bartram Editor's Note: Over the years, Government Book Talk has also highlighted some funny Federal publication titles within previous blog posts including: Society through a Comic Lens, The Nuttall Tick CatalogueDr. Seuss, U.S. Army, Sprocket Man!War Games, and Ponzimonium. You'll chuckle over the odd, quirky, ironic or inadvertently funny titles of the books mentioned!]

All of these titles in this blog post have records in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, and you might be able to find a copy in your local Federal depository library, or find one at your regional library. Click here for a list of Federal Depository Libraries (the Federal Depository Library Directory or FDLD). Since many of these Government documents —books, posters, pamphlets and PDFs— are older than five years, you might have to search a bit to find a copy. When available, we have provided links for the electronic version of these titles.

Below is the list of Top 10 funniest titles that Jennifer provided, along with additional details about each.

TOP 10 FUNNIEST TITLES

Gobbledygook_has-gotta-go_green-cover1) Gobbledygook has Gotta Go. This Bureau of Land Management title about the problems with Government writing is a classic, and a precursor to the “Plain Language” initiative today to simplify the wording in communications. It has been cited in several collected lists of funny titles, and it’s the only time I cheated and included it in my list anyway.  Gobbledygook is just such a great word to say, and the alliteration makes the title even funnier. You can read a scanned copy of this book here.

2) Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic. All of our GPO office mates agree: this comic has got to be the most fun Federal government document to date.  The CDC was smart and exploited the current interest in zombies, and made an emergency preparedness checklist into a comic on preparing for the “zombie pandemic”. In this comic, the scientists of the CDC are the superheroes, isolating the virus “Z5N1” and developing a vaccine in record time, while the locals develop a checklist of emergency supplies so they can stay inside their home. Just the title alone is enough to make you smile—and it gets its point across. You can read the entire publication online here.

cdc-preparedness-101-zombie-pandemic

3) This is a Dumb Bunny. I love the idea of the Federal government calling someone a “dumb bunny”. Even if the document it is quite literally the image of a rabbit, which spoils some of the fun, I am still tickled by the idea of a snarky Uncle Sam. The poster’s actually about smoking cessation.

"This is a dumb bunny!" anti-smoking 1970s poster from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare

4) Safety is as Stupid Does!!  I know what the goal was with this title. The poster (seen on the University of Iowa Digital Library) makes it clear to the intended audience of military personnel that not thinking hurts safety on the job. However, I think the title missed the mark. It’s funny in its own right.

Safety-is-as-stupid-does_DOD-poster

5) Do Mandrakes Really Scream?  A colleague of mine is a huge Harry Potter fan. She said cataloging this title was the pinnacle of her career. It’s the online exhibition catalog of an National Library of Medicine (NLM) History of Medicine exhibit relating NLM’s historical holdings and the magic and medicine of Harry Potter.

If you read the Harry Potter series, you’ll know what the title is referring to. If you haven’t read the series, check out this free exhibit first; you might find yourself diving into the book series afterwards.

National Library of Medicine NLM "Do Mandrakes Really Scream? Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter" website

6) USDA Saves French Donkey.  The title of this mid-1980s US Department of Agriculture publication just speaks for itself.

[Editor's note: Probably the publication refers to this 1985 story reported in the Los Angeles Times about a rare 7-month-old curly haired French Poitou donkey named Sonette at the San Diego Zoo: "Rare Donkey Passes Test, Can Stay Here"]

French Poitou donkey has dreadlocks that need a haircut

The rare French Baudet du Poitou donkey breed is born with curly hair that naturally grows into long dreadlocks as an adult. This one hasn’t had a haircut in 17 years! (Source: The Telegraph – UK)

7) Self-Motion Perception and Motion Sickness: Final Report for the Project  NASA’s report on a motion sickness project makes me want to just… stop… moving! Read about it on NASA’s website.

NASA-astronauts-with-motion-sicknessAbove: NASA astronauts in zero gravity try to fend off the effects of motion sickness.  To learn more about motion sickness, watch this 3-minute TED Talk animated video about “The Mystery of Motion Sickness.”

America the Beautiful: A Collection of the Nation's Trashiest Humor with comic strips about solid waste or trash8) America the Beautiful: Collection of the Nation’s Trashiest Humor. Not only is the title funny, but the book’s content promises humor as well. This is publication number 2048 of The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, originally published in 1970. The book consists of thirty comics, from the funny pages like B.C., and some from the editorial pages of publications from the New Yorker to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, all focusing on the problem of waste disposal. You can read the publication in its entirety online at the EPA’s website.

9) French Meadows: Hell Hole Recreation Areas. Although the area is really quite lovely, there’s a problem with image marketing in this U.S. Forest Service tourism brochure.

French-Meadows-Hell-Hole-Reservoir

Poster for The Vampire Bat movie starring Fay Wray10) Controlling Vampire Bats.  This serious US Agency for International Development publication about controlling the spread of rabies through these creatures nevertheless evokes shades of Tippi Hedren… Don’t you get a mental picture of people running down the street away from the bats, waving their arms over their heads and screaming, à la The Birds? Or Fay Wray being controlled by an evil vampire in bat form in the movie “The Vampire Bat” (movie poster image at the right)? Maybe I’ve read too many zombie comics.

How can I find these funny-titled Federal publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Adapted and expanded by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Jennifer K. Davis, formerly from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).

Have a fun and funny April Fool’s Day!


Spring forward into the garden

March 20, 2014

Baby chick hides among yellow daffodils

Image: Chick with daffodils (Source: Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Ah, spring: the season of rebirth, renewal, and growth. Breathe in the air full of the fresh blossoms of flowers, feel the first warm breezes, gaze at the profusion of color, and listen to the birds chirping and insects buzzing.

Most of the United States just went into daylight saving time on March 9 with instructions to “spring forward” with our clocks. On Thursday, March 20, 2014, we spring forward for real as it is the Spring or Vernal Equinox, fondly known as the official first day of spring. After a brutal winter and the first full month of spring and National Garden Month—April– just around the corner, many minds turn toward planting and gardening with their promise of getting back in touch with nature.

Play the Zone

Before you pull on the mud boots and pick up your gloves and tools, you’ll want to determine where you are in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the United States. The climate where you garden affects the fruits and vegetables that you can grow successfully. Local nurseries and garden centers will typically stock plants that perform well in your climate, but it’s important to know your planting zone if you are ordering seeds, bulbs, or plants from non-local establishments.

USDA-Plant-Hardiness-Zones-Map across the U.S.

Image: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (Source: USDA)

How does your garden grow?

If you pore over seed catalogs, browse gardening Web sites, stroll the store aisles of soil, pots, and plants, and read gardening books in the dark winter months, then you probably have the gardening bug. You can also learn to recognize the real insects that you have in your garden with The Bug Book: A Garden Field Guide from the EPA. Gardeners can toil away only to find that someone else is enticed by the new plants; that’s when some choose to control pests by using chemicals. Be extra safe and learn about the effects of pest control, especially if you have children. Greenscaping (see this EPA guide) is an alternative method of dealing with those tiny invaders in your garden.

Lady bugs clustered on an oak branch

Image: Lady bugs gathering on an oak branch (Source: NPS)

Practice safe gardening

EPA's Mission: Sunwise Activity Book for sun safety ISBN  9780160917097In any outdoor activity, you want to be safe and healthy in the garden. While you are digging away and pulling weeds, you can get quite a sunburn or get dehydrated. The EPA’s Mission: Sunwise Activity Book helps educate kids on how to be safe in the sun and to use sunscreen. Check out these health and safety tips so that you can continue to enjoy the time spent outdoors.

How to Prune Trees by the U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160913761How-to-Recognize-Hazardous Defects-in-Trees ISBN: 9780160913778When it comes to tackling bigger projects, read up first to learn what to look for in your own backyard, starting with those stately trees. How to Prune Trees is a best-selling quick guide to smart practices on trimming branches for optimum tree health. How to Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees is an overview of common issues with trees.

Removing a tree altogether is sometimes the only safe option; Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? is a book for children that explains how taking away an unhealthy tree can benefit the overall environment of the garden.Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160916267

As always, with any larger gardening issues, you’ll want to consult a professional arborist for concerns with your trees.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Gardening is an ideal activity for children. Not only are they out in nature and physically active, but they also learn about where healthy food comes from while observing the weather, biology, zoology, and conservation. The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has been teaching the message of healthy living through nutritious, locally grown food in her White House Kitchen Garden. Plants grown right outside the White House in Washington, DC, end up on the dining table of the President’s family. Whether you are building a kitchen garden, a school garden, or a community garden, Let’s Move has more information for you, including a diagram of the White House Kitchen Garden if you want to recreate it in your own backyard.

The Little Acorn - USDA children's book ISBN: 9780160817014Schools are well aware of the educational benefits of gardening; it begins as early as pre-school. (Download the free “Grow It, Try It, Like It! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables” garden-themed nutrition education kit.) Teachers can find resources and lesson plans from the EPA to incorporate gardening into their school curriculum. And if April showers are in the forecast, little ones can still learn about nature by curling up with a delightful illustrated book about The Little Acorn, which tells of the cycle of growth and change in the garden that starts with just one seed.

Watch the video below as First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass tell the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II.

First Lady and White House chef explain history of the first White House kitchen garden since WW2

Inside the White House: The Kitchen Garden” video of First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass telling the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II. This new garden was planted in the Spring of 2009 with the help of local elementary school children and has yielded a constant supply fresh produce for the First Family and White House events. Published May 10, 2012. (Source: White House Let’s Move YouTube Channel)

You can find more White House garden videos and gardening ideas for kids on the Let’s Move Gardening Guide web page.

Look for inspiration in public spaces

A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook) ISBN: 9780160869129 for out-of-print ISBN: 9780160767722Some folks are lucky enough to own a big garden plot; others grow plants in containers on a balcony or place herb pots by a sunny window. No matter how you garden, you can always look for inspiration for your gardening pursuits. There are a number of places to visit in spring to see the variety of plants. It’s especially helpful to visit places where plants are labeled so that you know what to look for at a local nursery or plant sale.

Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Image: Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

In the nation’s capital, Washington, DC you can go to the United States Botanic Garden and see what’s in bloom or learn how to attract butterflies to your garden.

You can also purchase A Botanic Garden for the Nation: the United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook), a GPO Online Bookstore perennial favorite (pun intended).

Girl's face peeking out from pink azaleas at National Arboretum in Washington, DC

Peeking out from among the azaleas at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

While in the DC area, don’t miss the United States National Arboretum. You can see every single plant contained there, search for individual plants and see exactly where they are located on this interactive map.

Find out what’s in bloom during the month of your visit. (If visiting in April, don’t miss their world-famous display of azaleas / rhododendrons which bloom sometime in April. Check their Azalea page for current bloom conditions.)

The arboretum also has full color posters to help you identify crape myrtles, shrubs, and trees.

U.S. National Arboretum Crape Myrtles Guide

Image: Guide to Lagerstroemia, commonly known as crape myrtle or crepe myrtle, from the National Arboretum. (Source: U.S. National Arboretum)

Learn about gardening by joining others

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes ISBN: 9780160864162You can learn so much about gardening by meeting other like-minded folks. If you don’t have your own garden, you might want to join a community garden or find a local gardening group or volunteer at a gardening club. Urban soils have their own unique characteristics and benefits; find out how to grow gardens in urban soil, then enjoy the benefits that come from gardening in urban landscapes in Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes, available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings

Image: Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings (Source: NIH)

It’s food for thought

Fruitful Legacy: A Historic Context of Orchards in the United States, with Technical Information for Registering Orchards in the National Register of Historic Places ISBN: 9780160821271The first presidents were known not only for their political endeavors, but also for their farms, gardens and orchards. If planted and maintained well, gardens and orchards can last for decades, even centuries.

Learn more about the legacy and preservation of historic orchards in the U.S. with these two publications available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore:

Happy gardening!

Image: Uncle Sam promoting gardening during wartimeSource: National Archives

Image: World War II USDA poster promoting Victory gardens: “Uncle Sam says GARDEN to Cut Food Costs” (Source: National Archives)

How can I get these and other Federal Government publications on Gardening?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find gardening publications from the following:

About the author: Kristina Bobe is a Senior Planning and Development Specialist for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. Additional content, images and editing provided by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC.


Get Sunwise and Block the Sun, Not the Fun

June 3, 2013

School’s out and the sun’s out, too, so it is time to teach kids about sun safety, particularly as June 2-8 is National Sun Safety Week. With children playing in the backyard, at the park, or in the pool or at the beach, it is important for parents to be aware of sun safety and for kids to be responsible for their own well-being when it comes to the sun.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has two great resources as part of their SunWise program. The Mission: Sunwise Activity Book 2013 is an educational, hands-on way for kids to learn about sun safety, and the companion website – SunWise – provides parents, teachers, and babysitters with additional resources for teaching children about the harmful effects of the sun.

Fulfill the Mission to Get “Sunwise”

mission_sunwise_activity_book_Page_01The Mission: SunWise Activity Book 2013 targets children in kindergarten through 8th grade and takes a more thorough approach to sun safety. Children learn about the ozone layer, ultraviolet rays, the UV Index, thermometers and preventative actions to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun.

There are more than a dozen activities including drawing and coloring, matching, word scrambles and fill in the blanks to engage children in sun safety lessons. The activity book doesn’t just tell kids to wear sun screen and play in the shade, but explains what causes sunburns and why it is important to be “sunwise.” [Says GovBookTalk Editor Michele Bartram: "My favorite page is the "Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap, Check, Play" page!"]

Parent and Teacher Sun Safety Resources

The EPA’s Sunwise sun safety website, http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise, has endless resources for adults and children. Teachers can download suggested lesson plans with PowerPoint presentations and sign-up for the SunWise Program to receive free toolkits that have age appropriate content and activities for their classrooms. Children can play interactive sun safety games, take quizzes and become “Sun Safety Certified.”

Together, adults and children can learn about the UV Index scale and the suggested precautions that go with each category and the health effects of overexposure to UV rays.  It even has Skin Cancer Fact Sheets by state showing the skin cancer rates and Action Steps for Sun Safety.

The website’s content is well-organized and can be translated into Spanish to reach a greater audience.

EPA-Sunwise-WebsiteAnother useful site is from the not-for-profit Sun Safety Alliance, (también en español) which offers its “Block the Sun, Not the Fun” program in addition to sponsoring National Sun Safety Week. 

Graphic-Skin-cancer-video-Sun-Safety-AllianceThe website includes resources for Educators, including this Teacher’s Guide; Healthcare Professionals; Parents and Early Childcare personnel; and a Kids site. It also has activities for children from infants and toddlerspre-school age, and kindergarten to 2nd grade, to grades 3 to 5, middle school,and  all the way through high school.

Image: From a video on the Sun Safety Alliance home page, showing the effects of skin cancer on a former suntan addict. She says, “I wish I knew then what I can see now!”

It is not fun to avoid the sun and sit inside all summer. So be proactive and start the summer out right by taking preventative actions to avoid sunburns. Keep in mind that there is more to sun safety than just putting on sun screen.

HOW DO I OBTAIN the “Mission: SunWise Activity Book 2013”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s main retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a a federal depository library.

About the Authors: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. Additional content was provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram, Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division.


Earth Day

April 19, 2012

ImageAs we celebrate the 42nd Earth Day, the arrival of warm weather and the planting of summer gardens, our Guest Blogger — GPO Public Relations Specialist Emma Wojtowicz — takes a look at a few Federal publications focusing on the environment and how they play a role in our communities.

Congressional Budget Office: Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States

Published in May 2009, this report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) defines climate change and examines the causes and potential impact climate change has on North America. The report is brief (only 17 pages), concise and written in plain language, so you do not have to be a scientist to understand the focus of the paper. CBO effectively explains the scope of climate change and the effect is has on different parts of our environment. A few interesting takeaways:

  • Energy from the sun is absorbed by the Earth’s climate system and then radiated back into space. Greenhouse gases increase the amount of energy being held, thus warming the Earth’s surface.
  • Aerosol gases from volcanic eruptions have the opposite effect – they cool the Earth.
  • Climate change causes precipitation to be unevenly distributed: regions and seasons that already have greater precipitation will tend to get more and drier regions will tend to get less.
  • Rising surface temperature of the ocean increase the strength, size and intensity of hurricanes and typhoons.
  • Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, a kind of greenhouse gas, will boost forest growth and timber production.

The Container Tree Nursery Manual, Volume Seven: Seedling Processing, Storage and Outplanting

A rite of spring and summer involves planning and preparing for outdoor landscaping and gardens, which means a trip to the nursery. Do you ever question where those trees come from? In the Container Tree Nursery Manual you will learn about the cultivation of trees from seed to what you purchase at the store. This publication is a bit dense with scientific processes and terminology, but once you get used to the tone of the book it makes for a fascinating read. Informative pictures, charts, graphs and diagrams help readers understand the content and “see” the entire life of a nursery tree from the planting, growing, storing, and shipping stages. For gardening enthusiasts, you can learn practical information that can be adapted to your own gardening endeavors. While you may not be planting trees in containers, the book emphasizes important growing techniques and considerations that you can apply to your own potted plants like the depth of the container for roots, water amount and frequency, as well as outside temperature.

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-being through Urban Landscapes

This publication embodies the community spirit of Earth Day. Previously blogged about in August 2010, Restorative Commons is a lovely book about the importance and positive effect gardens and green landscapes have on urban communities. Urban gardening projects bring together neighbors and people of all ages giving them a common goal and a visible result to take pride in. The book explores the history of urban landscaping and ways community parks have shaped society; next it goes through various case studies of urban gardening initiatives in American cities and the impact they have on their communities; and then concludes with interviews with the people who lead the initiatives that beautify and strengthen their communities through urban gardens. Restorative Commons reflects the purpose and essence of Earth Day, which is to work with your neighbors to make a positive contribution to the community you live in and in turn an impression on greater global community.    

How do I obtain these Federal publications?

Congressional Budget Office: Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC  20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library

The Container Tree Nursery Manual, Volume Seven: Seedling Processing, Storage and Outplanting

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at710 North Capitol Street NW,Washington,DC20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-being through Urban Landscapes

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at710 North Capitol Street NW,Washington,DC20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library

Government Stocking Stuffers for Kids

December 10, 2010

 Guest blogger Kelly Seifert talks about Government publications for children.

Having recently had a child, I was happy to discover that there are many great Government publications for kids. I had no idea there were so many educational and fun resources available – and with the holidays quickly approaching, there are so many economical and entertaining gift options to choose from! What’s more, with cold winter days ahead, these booklets are perfect for keeping little minds occupied when it’s too frigid to venture outside!  

For instance, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put out a children’s activity book, Understanding Marine Debris: Games & Activities for Kids of All Ages, Marine Debris 101. Included in this publication are silly stories, coloring activities, word finds, crosswords, memory games, connect the dots, and more. What a great, educational way to teach kids about protecting marine life!

Along the same lines, another great publication is the Chesapeake Bay Activity Book, also put out by NOAA. This book for young children provides information on the Chesapeake Bay watershed and gives them the opportunity to color, connect the dots, try word searches, and even make recipes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also puts out a great coloring and activity book called Marty and Jett’s Activity Book: Let’s Have Fun with Fire and Safety.

Also from FEMA, your kids’ favorite Sesame Street characters team up to teach about fire safety, hot and cold, and what to do when you hear a smoke alarm. Sesame Street Fire Safety Station: Color and Learn includes ideas for mapping emergency escape routes from your home and a few safety rhymes that can be sung.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has teamed up with the American Cancer Society to create the Mission Sunwise Activity Book, which provides puzzles and pages to color about how to be safe in the sun and to use sunscreen.

From the Department of Energy, try Energy Activities With Energy Ant.

And these are just a small sampling of the amazing publications out there!

As always, parents can also visit their local Federal depository library to find these great resources. With more than 1,200 locations around the country, what could be easier?

Locate a depository library near you.


“I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”

October 13, 2010

This past weekend, I sat on a bench at a botanic garden and contemplated a tiny wetlands lake. It was a restful interlude in an otherwise mundane, errand-filled day. Even a small lake can have that effect on us – think about Walden Pond, for instance, or Yeats’ lake isle of Innisfree. For others, lakes mean boating, fishing, and vacations. For all of us, they are, or should be, natural treasures.

That brings me to the National Lakes Assessment: A Collaborative Survey of the Nation’s Lakes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water,“This report summarizes the first-ever assessment of lakes across the continental United States using consistent protocols and a modern, scientifically-defensible statistical survey approach.” That sounds pretty significant to me. I’ve always assumed that EPA was studying various bodies of water, but to hear that this is a “first” made me want to learn more.

If you usually assume that the glass is half full, you’ll be pleased to learn that 56 percent of the nation’s lakes are in good condition. If you’re of the other persuasion, 44 percent are “fair” or “poor.” What are the problems? As a card-carrying worrier about the environment, that’s what I think of first. I would have guessed that high nitrogen and phosphorous levels are the biggest issues for our lakes – which is why I’m a blogger, not an environmental expert. The number one stressor of lakes is poor lakeshore habitat, with nitrogen and phosphorus number two. Other problems include algal toxins, and fish tissue contaminants (mainly mercury).

On the plus side, many of our lakes are healthy and holding their own. In one of a number of sidebars, the National Lakes Assessment cites Mousam Lake in Maine. In the late 1990s, soil erosion, polluted runoff from residential properties and camp roads, and sewage effluent meant that phosphorus levels were dangerously high. Happily, since 1997, state, county, and local governments have worked together in a variety of ways, and continue to do so today. The result: the lake was removed from the state’s list of “impaired waters’ in 1996.

The National Lakes Assessment doesn’t take either the full or empty glass position – it deals in the complex reality of where America’s lakes are today and how we can keep them clean for future contemplators. You can read it here or get your own copy here – and, if you’re interested, here’s a bit more about the little lake I visited last weekend.


Don’t Let Lead Take Over Your Home

October 6, 2010

Today’s guest post is by Ingrid Reyes-Arias of GPO’s Library Services and Content Management area.

Time and time again, public health educators have stressed the serious implications of lead- contaminated homes.  To educate the public about this problem, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed a publication to inform and educate you about the detrimental health risks due to the environmental threat of lead. 

Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home provides important information on different forms of home protection to protect your family from lead.  For example, EPA suggests testing children for lead levels even though they may seem healthy, performing repeated and ongoing lead checks, and more.  In addition, the publication highlights many important facts.  Did you know that lead can go into your body just through breathing or swallowing lead dust? 

Not only does this publication provide facts, it also explains the effects of lead and its implications on your health, such as damage to kidneys and the nervous system, learning disabilities in children, and speech and language impediments.  After detailing the health implications and history of lead, EPA lists the steps to protect your home.  First, how do you check for lead?  There are many ways.  You can do a paint inspection, followed by a risk assessment, or hire a trained and certified testing professional.  All of these approaches will aid in protecting your family from lead. 

Lead inspection in your home is very important. Don’t let a seemingly small detail affect your home and family. These simple steps can change your life, so take a look at the important facts. Read Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home here or get copies at the GPO online bookstore.


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