Education Statistical Resources from the Federal Government

August 19, 2014

With the start of a new school year just around the corner, Government Book Talk takes a look at two recently released publications from the Department of Education that examine the latest trends and developments in American education.

The Condition of Education 2013 and the Digest of Education Statistics 2012,which are currently available from the GPO Bookstore, provide important statistical data on the progress of education in the United States.

065-000-01438-6_2The Condition of Education 2013 focuses on 42 indicators in the subject areas of population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. Each indicator covers important developments and key indicators such as economic outcomes, preprimary education, school characteristics and climate, and finance and resources.

The report also features easy-to-read charts and graphs to illustrate the current trends within each indicator. For example, the chart below from the book illustrates trends in employment rates by age group and education attainment for 2012. According to the chart, in 2012, the employment rate for young adults was 87 percent for those with at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 75 percent for those whose educational attainment was some college, 64 percent for high school graduates, and 48 percent for those who did not complete high school. Further analysis of the chart points out that older students that did not complete school—those aged 25-34 and 25-64 did slightly better in comparison to their younger counterparts, however, were still employed at a significantly lower rate than those with additional education. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

conditions employment chart 2012In addition to trends in employment rates by educational attainment, this year’s report focuses on kindergarten entry status, the status of rural education, and financing postsecondary education in the United States.

065-000-01439-4The Digest of Education Statistics 2012 provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. Like the Condition of Education, the data in this annual report was drawn from government and private sources, but especially from surveys and other activities led by NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) part of the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). The digest contains information on the number of schools, students, and teachers, as well as statistics on educational attainment, finances, libraries, technology, and international comparisons. Details on population trends, education attitudes, labor force characteristics, and federal aid supplies helpful background for evaluating the education data.

In addition to updating many of the statistics that have appeared in previous years, this edition contains new material, including:

  • Percentage distribution of 6- to 18-year olds, by parent’s highest level of educational attainment, household type (either two-parent or single-parent), and child’s race/ethnicity (table 12)
  • Enrollment and percentage distribution of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity and region (table 44)
  • Number and percentage of public school students participating in programs for English language learners, by state (table 47)
  • Children 3 to 21 years old served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B, by age group and race/ethnicity (table 49)
  • Percentage of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children enrolled in preprimary programs, by attendance status, level of program, and selected child and family characteristics (table 57)
  • Number and enrollment of public elementary and secondary schools that have closed, by school level and type (table 109)
  • Number and percentage distribution of public school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, by school level, locale, and student race/ethnicity (table 112)

This statistical reference could be helpful to parents choosing schools for their children as well as for teachers, librarians, and public administrators as it tracks enrollment, population trends and key areas of studies with student progress.

How can I get these publications on education statistics?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection 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.

Order by Phone: Call our 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.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


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!


Getting to Know the Presidents from the Intelligence Community’s Perspective

February 10, 2014

Presidents Day originated as a holiday to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. As a result of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, the holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. While the holiday commemorates  George Washington, it also honors Abraham Lincoln whose birthday is ten days before Washington’s on February 12th. Consequently, Presidents Day always falls between the two birthdays. Let’s also give a shout out to two other Presidents whose birthdays fall in February – Ronald Reagan’s birthday on February 6th and William Henry Harrison on February 9th.

In recent years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been declassifying documents and releasing historical collections giving the public access to fascinating and relatively unknown U.S. history. These collections have been made available through GPO’s bookstore and have been the topic of previous blog posts.

In honor of Presidents Day, Government Book Talk is taking a look at two recent books published by the CIA focusing on the relationship between Presidents and the intelligence community.

Crafting the U.S. Intelligence Community

Crafting an Intelligence Community-Papers of the First-4-DCIs ISBN 9780160920523The CIA’s predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group, was created after World War II in response to the success and usefulness of intelligence gathering during the war. The booklet and accompanying DVD Crafting an Intelligence Community: Papers of the First Four DCIs looks at the first Directors of Central Intelligence (DCI) and their relationships with President Truman and Congress during the initial years of the newly created intelligence agency during the transition from wartime to peacetime. History buffs and President Truman enthusiasts will particularly enjoy pouring through the 800 recently declassified documents from the DCIs from 1946-1953 that are found on the DVD.

The CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence and CIA Historical Collections Division describe this multimedia publication:

Admiral Sidney W. Souers, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter and General William Bedell Smith accepted President Harry S. Truman’s challenge to craft an intelligence organization.  Each man marked his tenure with his unique brand of leadership that provided his successor with the foundation needed for the next step toward the Central Intelligence Agency of today.

 The Crafting of an Intelligence Community collection of 800+ Agency documents along with 600 supplemental items shows the day-by-day activities, decisions, staff meetings and contacts that confronted each DCI.  They ran the gamut of choosing a secretary to responding to a Presidential question to an evening social event with various ambassadors and dignitaries.

Briefing the Presidential Candidates and Presidents-Elect

CIA Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 ISBN 9781929667192Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 (Book and DVD) or in Audio Book version was recently featured in the Washington Post for being the federal government’s first downloadable audio book available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The book is an historical account of the information sharing process between the intelligence community and Presidential candidates and Presidents-elect during campaigns and administration transitions.  The early chapters when this practice was not yet well-established provide the greatest insight to the briefing process.

It starts with the transition periods from the Dwight D. Eisenhower to Harry Truman administration through the candidate and Presidential briefings of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, ending with President George W. Bush.

An interesting anecdote from the book occurs during the period leading up to the 1960 election when then-Vice President Richard Nixon was running against then-Senator John F. Kennedy. At the time, there were concerns regarding the intelligence briefings on Cuba and the U.S.’s policy towards the Castro government. The recent revolution in Cuba that led to a Soviet-supported communist government was a hot topic during the election and the Presidential debates. Since Nixon was running for President while serving as Vice President, he was privy to information on the covert actions that had been underway in Cuba during the Eisenhower administration. Vice President Nixon raised concerns over what information was shared with Kennedy by the DCI Allen Dulles and how it could affect Kennedy’s positions during the election and the success of the covert actions. This was the first time the CIA was part of a political campaign raising questions on which topics and to what extent Presidential candidates should be briefed.

Here is an excerpt from the book detailing this fascinating controversy:

Well before the Cuba liberation issue came to a head in October, the outgoing Eisenhower administration had realized that covert action planning on Cuba could be a political bombshell. Following one of Allen Dulles’s briefings of the National Security Council in early August, for example, the vice president pulled the DCI aside to ask him whether Kennedy and his running mate, Senator Lyndon Johnson, were being provided information on covert action projects, specifically those related to Cuba. Dulles gave a carefully crafted answer to the effect that Kennedy was being told a little but not too much. According to former Agency officials familiar with the exchange, Nixon reacted strongly to Dulles’s reply, saying, “Don’t tell [Kennedy] anything. That could be dangerous.”

In his own account of these events, published in 1962, Nixon charged that Kennedy, before the election of 1960, had knowledge of covert action planning “for the eventual purpose of supporting an invasion of Cuba itself.” This charge prompted a formal press release from the White House on 20 March 1962 denying that Kennedy had been told of any plans for “supporting an invasion of Cuba” before the election. The White House denial was backed up by Dulles, by then a former DCI, who explained that Nixon’s comments were apparently based on a misunderstanding of what was included in the briefings he had given Kennedy.

Senator-Kennedy-DCI-DullesImage from “Getting to Know the Presidents”: Senator Kennedy with former DCI Allen Dulles heading to a press briefing on the information the CIA provided Kennedy and Johnson. Source: White House

Celebrate Presidents Day and get to know the Presidents from the intelligence community’s perspective with these new CIA publications or any of the publications found in the GPO Bookstore’s Presidential History collection, which also includes the popular Public Papers of the Presidents collection.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. 

Additional images and content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


The Emancipation Proclamation and its Role in GPO and African American History

February 5, 2014

February is National African American History Month, also known as Black History Month in the United States. One significant event in African American history happened 151 years ago.  On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing “that all persons held as slaves” in rebellious areas “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” While this Executive Order only freed slaves living in Confederate states during the Civil War, it nevertheless ultimately paved the way for the eventual abolition of slavery in America and became an important aspect of President Lincoln’s legacy.

lincoln-signs-emancipation-proclamation-on-New-Years-Day-jubilee-dayIn his proclamation of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013, President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans to acknowledge and celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and “reaffirm the timeless principles it upheld.

Image: Illustration of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in Washington. Source: AP 

As we honor African American heritage this month, I’m reminded of the Emancipation Proclamation and the “timeless principles” President Obama was speaking of.

A symbol of equality and justice

The significance of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Proclamation during the Civil War was two-fold for African Americans. As mentioned earlier, not only did it lay the foundation for the eventual freedom of all slaves, it also allowed black men to enlist in the Union Army and Navy. This strategic Presidential “war measure” provided African Americans the opportunity to join in the fight for their freedom, in effect enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

As history teaches, the Civil War was initially about preserving the Union; however, the Emancipation Proclamation also made it about freeing the slaves– “an act of justice” that would grant African Americans, and generations to come, equal citizenship in the U.S.

For this reason, the Emancipation Proclamation remains a widely recognized symbol of freedom in American History that will forever be revered in Black History.

Fancy-Emancipation-ProclamationImage: Engraving by W. Roberts with the text of the Emancipation Proclamation. Source: Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pga.04067.

GPO’s role in the Emancipation Proclamation

But the Emancipation Proclamation also played a significant role in GPO’s own history. Did you know… the then newly established Government Printing Office printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation for President Lincoln as one of its first major tasks? The original printer’s proof version was displayed for six months at GPO’s 150th History Anniversary exhibit that opened in June of 2011. I (along with many other GPO employees and visitors) was given an extraordinary opportunity to personally view the original historic document, which contained the printer’s actual proofing marks with requested changes!

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERImage: Former Public Printer William Boarman views original GPO printer’s proof copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation with Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray at the GPO history exhibit. In 1862, GPO printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation in general orders format, issued as an Executive Order from President Lincoln in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. GPO printed 15,000 copies for the War Department, which were distributed to military commanders and their troops and diplomats in foreign countries. The copy displayed at GPO contained proofing marks; those corrections were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Source: GPO

The GPO history exhibit is currently open to the public with free admission, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm at GPO’s Washington, DC, headquarters at 732 North Capitol Street NW. Unfortunately, the landmark document, which was on loan for six months from the Library of Congress, is no longer available for viewing, but many more historic exhibits are on view for free.

Visitor at GPO History Exhibit carrying Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation ISBN: 9780160887048Image: Visitor who has just purchased the GPO history book “Keeping America Informed” views the GPO 150th Anniversary History Exhibit. Source: GPO

To learn more about GPO’s role in the printing of this historic document and other important Federal publications, read GPO’s 150th anniversary history book, Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation.

However, you can view and/or read the entire Emancipation Proclamation online at the National Archives website or visit the National Archives in Washington, DC, to see the original signed document.

Teaching the Next Generation about the Emancipation Proclamation

To help parents and educators teach children about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation and its role in Black History, the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) published the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

National Archives 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Children's Book: Forever Free ISBN: 9780160916342Image:  Buy the family friendly 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

This 150th anniversary commemorative publication about the Emancipation Proclamation is not a typical children’s coloring book. The wealth of information contained within this great little read makes it useful as a history book for the entire family, not just for kids. For example, I learned about the origins of “Watch Night”:

On December 31, 1862, many enslaved African Americans gathered in churches and prayed. Throughout the night, they waited for the moment when the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. This special night became known as “Watch Night,” and continues to be celebrated today in many African American churches on New Year’s Eve.

The publication opens with a brief history about President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It also provides portraits and short biographies describing historical events involving African Americans, such as Harriet Tubman, a former slave and Union spy who also helped recruit black troops, and Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist who helped Abraham Lincoln recruit black troops during the Civil War. It even includes a reference to this famous image:

reading-emancipation-proclamation-torchlightImage: By torchlight, a Union soldier reads the ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ to a room of slaves and their children, 1860s. The image was published as part of the ‘Life of Lincoln: Additional View’ series by the C.W. Briggs Company. Photo credit: George Eastman House/Getty Images

Other short biographies of important figures in black history covered in this book include Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama.

National Park Service Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book ISBN: 9780160900181The National Park Service also has produced another children’s publication focusing on black history and mentioning the Emancipation Proclamation: Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book. Young children ranging from ages 5 to 10 and older are taught about the history of the Underground Railroad and the struggles African Americans endured in their quest for freedom. Activities include a wordsearch of terms related to the Civil War; a maze routing the journey to freedom; and a timeline highlighting significant events in Black History, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and much more. Upon completion of the activities, children are encouraged to send in their completed booklet for an official Jr. Ranger Badge. [Read about this and other Underground Railroad publications in our blog post: “The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History.]

How can you get these publications?

About the author: Guest blogger Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

Images and additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore and promoting Federal government content to the public.


“Now You’re Speaking My Language”: Teaching English as a Second Language in the U.S. and Abroad

January 31, 2014

Teaching-American-English-wordleThe English language, according to Wikipedia, is the third-most-common native language in the world after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish and is the most widely learned second language. Not only is it widely used in technology and entertainment, it is also an official language of the European Union, many British Commonwealth countries and the United Nations, as well as in many international organizations.

The U.S. Department of State recognizes that promoting the learning and teaching of English as a foreign or second language both within the United States and around the world is an essential step towards increasing cultural understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries.  The Department of State created the Office of English Language Programs, under the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to encourage English language education for non-native English speakers.

As a former Business English professor for Spanish Masters of Marketing graduate students in Spain and a volunteer tutor for young Hispanic ESL (English as a Second Language) students in the United States, I had a hard time finding resources for my students or connecting with other teachers with whom I could exchange best practices and ideas for lesson plans that took into account the cultural differences of non-native speakers,” says Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

English Teaching Forum, the quarterly journal for professionals teaching ESL or EFL English as a Foreign or Second Language, published by the U.S. State Department's Office of English Language ProgramsFortunately, the State Department’s Office of English Language Programs publishes the English Teaching Forum, a quarterly journal that serves as a resource for professionals teaching English as a foreign or second language all over the globe. This publication connects teachers of English as a second language across the many countries in which they are teaching by allowing them to submit articles and share their experiences working towards their common goal of helping others learn the English language worldwide. In fact, the majority of articles featured in the English Teaching Forum are authored by English language classroom teachers. Each new issue of the journal has a distribution of over 85,000 copies across more than 130 countries!

Teachers of English as a second language will find a number of useful articles in the pages of the English Teaching Forum. Topics covered in this quarterly publication include classroom language learning activities, teaching methods and tools, informational articles on potential teaching topics related to American culture, and understanding the needs of the diverse group of students that these teachers encounter.

In the most recent issue of the English Teaching Forum (Volume 51, Number 4, 2013), “Raising Cultural Awareness in the English Language Classroom” tackles the question of how to introduce American sociocultural elements into the language curriculum to enhance the students’ ability to grasp the cultural nuances of the language. It has been said that students cannot master a foreign language without understanding the cultural context in which the language is spoken, and in this article, author Jerrold Frank explores this theory and suggests methods of introducing cultural lessons to language students.

Another particularly interesting feature from English Teaching Forum can be found in Volume 50, Number 1, 2012, in the article “A Call to Service”  by William P. Ancker, which introduces an interview with Dr. James Alatis, a leader in the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) community. The interview with Dr. Alatis, originally conducted in 2004 but reprinted in this issue in honor of the English Teaching Forum’s 50th anniversary, follows this introduction.

The journal even includes classroom exercises and printables, such as this fun quiz displaying the confusion caused by English-language homophones–words that are spelled differently but are pronounced similarly (like there and their).

ETF_Lighter-Side_Homophones-QuizImage: Speak and Spell Quiz from English Teaching Forum 2012, Volume 50, Number 3. See answers at bottom of the post.

If you are a teacher or a student of English as a foreign or second language, or even if you just find language and learning to be topics of interest to you, US-State-Department-American-English-Mobile-Appthe English Teaching Forum is a worthwhile publication to explore!

For more resources for teachers of American English, visit the State Department’s American English website, including downloading their new American English Mobile App for both teachers and students.

How do I subscribe to English Teaching Forum: A Journal for the Teacher of English Outside the United States?

About the Authors: Stephanie Jaeger is Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector. Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.

Answers to The Lighter Side “Speak and Spell” homophones quiz from above:

Answers-to-Homophones-Quiz 


Federal Favorites: Our Best Selling Books of 2013

January 16, 2014

Ahhh…. It’s that time of the year again: Awards season! From the Golden Globes to the Academy Awards, red carpets abound with interviews of movie stars and other celebrities boasting about their best work during the past year.

We at the US Government Bookstore want to make sure our star publications and Federal agency publishers get their moment in the limelight, too. So, we are pleased to announce the winning publications that you, our readers, chose through your purchases over the past year: The US Government Bookstore Best Sellers of 2013!

Top-Government Books and Best-Sellers-of-2013 from the GPO US Government Online BookstoreHere are some of the more notable books, eBooks, posters and more that were winners in your eyes over the past year:

ART & TRAVEL

National Park System (Wall Map Poster)Americans love our national parks, so it’s no surprise the National Park System Wall Map Poster was a big hit.

Humanities-Magazine-2014-01Humanities is a bimonthly magazine published by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) which covers NEH sponsored research in the humanities and NEH programs and projects, as well as information on recent and upcoming NEH grants.

HISTORY

With the 150th anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg last summer, The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 was a smash success (Read our post “Gettysburg, America’s Bloodiest Battle” for more information).

Perennial favorite Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide (Read our post “The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History”) was joined by two publications commemorating 50th anniversaries:

Book Cover Image for Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012 (Paperback)Finally, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the last official edition published in 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau, contains a standardized summary of all official key statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States (Read our post: “Statistical Abstract and Print Mashups in a Digital Age”).

TREES & FORESTS

Book Cover Image for The Little AcornI won’t be going out on a limb to say that our customers definitely wanted to hug trees this year, as books about Trees & Forests topped the lists. Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? and The Little Acorn are extremely popular books for children explaining about the uses and life cycle of trees.

Image for Timber Management Field BookHow to Prune Trees and How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees for amateur and professional gardeners, landscapers and foresters alike, and the Timber Management Field Book serves as the most popular reference handbook for forestry professionals.

(Read our posts “Oh, say, can you tree? American Christmas tree traditions,” “Pruning Trees” and “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Inspires Kids to Hug a Tree” for more information on these titles.)

BUSINESS AND LAW

A Basic Guide to Exporting for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (10th Revised)International business entrepreneurs and would-be exporters have made A Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses a best-seller every year (Read our posts: “Exporting Made Simple and “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free” for more information).

Copyright Law of the United States in U.S. Code as of 12/2011Protecting intellectual property and privacy were extremely hot topics in 2013, making the Copyright Law of the United States and Related Laws and the Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2012 Edition (extremely popular last year (Read our post: “The Privacy Act: What the Government Can Collect and Disclose about Youfor more information).

TRANSPORTATION AND NAVIGATION

TAstronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 and Its Companion the Astronomical Almanahe latest versions of the annual best-selling Astronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 (Combined Print plus Online Edition) and The Nautical Almanac for the Year 2014 are critical tools to aid commercial and private navigation by both air or water (Read our post: “Navigating by the Moon, Planets, and Starsfor more information).

Specifically for maritime navigation, Navigation Rules, International-Inland contains the latest international regulations for preventing Book Cover Image for FAA Safety Briefingcollisions at sea as well as the U.S. Inland Navigation Rules which have been in effect for all inland waters, including the Great Lakes.

The FAA Safety Briefing magazine provides updates on major Federal Aviation Administration rule changes and proposed changes, as well as refresher information on flight rules, maintenance air worthiness, avionics, accident analysis, and other aviation topics.

CITIZENSHIP AND CIVICS

Preparing to become a United States citizen and reaffirming knowledge of the American system of Government is extremely popular with our customers, and this year was no exception. Top civics and citizenship publications for 2013 included the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence (Pocket Edition) and materials for preparing for the U.S. Naturalization Test to become a United States citizen—

(Read our posts: “Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15”, “Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?”, and “Notable Documents 2009: Civics Flash Cardsfor more information on these products.)

Another patriotic publication that proved popular (Do you like the alliteration?:-) was Our Flag, which briefly describes the history of the American flag and sets forth the practices and observances appropriate to the display of Old Glory, was a top-seller.Book Cover Image for How Our Laws Are Made

The Congressional book, How Our Laws Are Made, provides citizens with a basic outline of the numerous steps of our Federal law-making process from the source of an idea for a legislative proposal through to its publication as a statute and becoming the “law of the land”.

HEALTH

Watching our weight and eating better were definitely on the minds of Americans this year as Diet & Nutrition books and posters were best sellers, including:

Book Cover Image for Special Operations Forces Medical HandbookHealthcare professionals turned often to the U.S. Government Bookstore for Physician References & Medical Handbooks, Medical & Health Research, and Military & Emergency Medicine publications in 2013. Top on the list were copies of the new Healthcare Law, as well as the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook.

But also important were publications used to improve the quality of healthcare research and patient care and safety. These included the ORI: Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research  (also available in Packages of 50) which provides guidelines for Public Health Service-funded researchers, as well as the TeamSTEPPS patient care and safety training materials for healthcare personnel, such as the TeamSTEPPS Instructor Guide (Binder Kit) and TeamSTEPPS Pocket Guide that should be handed out to all healthcare personnel who attend TeamSTEPPS training.

SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Emergency management personnel and first responders responded strongly to the many great safety and emergency response publications on the U.S. Government Bookstore.  These books and pocket guides topped their “must have” list in 2013:

Specifically for dealing with Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) and Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) incidents, clean-up and response were these best-selling guides:

The importance of radio communications was underscored by the popularity of the United States Frequency Allocations: The Radio Spectrum Chart (Poster) of all assigned frequencies and the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide which contains radio guidelines for establishing or repairing emergency communications in a disaster area.

GOVERNMENT

Every year, the publications containing the President’s proposed Federal Budget for the upcoming fiscal year are on our best sellers list, and the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget publications followed this tradition. (Note: Stay tuned! The new Fiscal Year 2015 Budget publications will be coming out soon from the White House).

United States Government Manual 2013 lists all federal agenciesThe U.S. Government Manual, the ultimate handbook of all Federal agencies, was a hit as it is every year. Now you can get the new edition: United States Government Manual 2013 (Read about it on our Blog post:  “Understand How the U.S. Government is Organized”).

Other “Best of the Best” Government titles include:

How can I get these “Best-selling Books of 2013”?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post. You may also click here to shop our entire “Best Sellers of 2013” collection.
  • Order by Phone: Call our 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 from this collection 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.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is also Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. Assistance provided by Stephanie Jaeger, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


“Santa, We Got Your Six!” NORAD’s Santa Tracker Goes High-Tech

December 23, 2013

Tracking Santa call sign Big-Red-One on NORAD Santa Tracker RadarThis article is Part 2 of a two-part series on NORAD’s Santa Tracker by Government Book Talk and explores the fascinating technology NORAD uses today to keep the Abominable Snowman, the mean Mr. Grinch, and Jack Frost from spoiling Santa’s big flight on Christmas Eve.

“Click here to read the popular Part 1 article, “Tracking “Big Red One”: NORAD’s Secret Santa Mission” which tells the history of how a fortunate advertising mistake in 1955 and a colonel’s heartwarming response to kids led to NORAD tracking Santa Claus.

In the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s 58-year history of tracking Santa Claus (Santa’s call sign for NORAD is “Big Red One”), it has continued to innovate and expand its Santa-support mission with the addition of new technology. 2013 is no exception.

Background of NORAD’s Santa Tracker

In Part 1 of our @NORADSanta Tracker series, we learned that NORAD’s mission of defending North America was expanded to include tracking Santa Claus’ flight on Christmas Eve back in 1955.

Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years (available in Hardcover Print or as an eBook) is the terrific publication documenting NORAD’s illustrious 50+ years of  history and provides easy-to-follow timelines of key NORAD events along with copious color photographs, maps and snippets of history of this important organization.

The publication also proudly covers the history of its favorite mission— Santa tracking— stating:

“Today, using the same technology used to perform their day-to-day mission— satellites, high-powered radars and jet fighters— NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world.”

To learn what NORAD & NORTHCOM (USNORTHERN Command) do when they aren’t tracking Santa, you can also visit their Facebook page.

NORAD’s Santa Tracking Innovations

NORAD has been as busy as Santa’s workshop in 2013, updating their systems to provide the ultimate Santa tracking capability. In a November 27 press release, NORAD is ready to track Santa’s flight, NORAD cites some of these innovations:

From intelligence to weather, satellites to ships, missiles to manned aircraft, NORAD has a wide variety of technology and processes that are deployed to protect North America and support special missions like helping “Big Red One.”

Santa Drops in for a Sneak Peek

Santa dropped into the NORAD Command Center in September 2013 to get a sneak peek at some of the innovations. Said Santa during his visit:

NORAD Tracks Santa defines my sleigh as a versatile, all-weather, multi-purpose, vertical short-take-off and landing vehicle capable of traveling vast distances without refueling. My reindeer and I call it the world’s most magical gift transporter. Ho ho ho!”

Santa-on-NORAD-cargo-planeImage: Santa Claus drops in for a sneak peek of the Santa Tracker preparations on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at the NORAD and USNORTHCOM headquarters at Peterson Air Force, Colo. Photo Credit: Michael Kucharek

Santa Tracker Test Flight Reveals NORAD Technology

On November 15, 2013, NORAD held a test flight incorporating all the technological know-how and innovations. During the test flight, NORAD personnel from the United States and Canada ran through checks of the technology, systems, processes and intelligence in place that are normally used to defend against threats but during Christmas are used to help Santa Claus complete his mission.

A video of this test flight that includes an overview of this impressive technology can be viewed for the first time in a NORAD Tracks Santa Command Center video of the Santa 2013 Test Flight.

NORAD-Command-Center-Test-Flight-VideoClick here to view the NORAD Command Center video of the Santa 2013 Test Flight on YouTube.

The NORAD team takes their Santa Mission seriously. 😉

In the comms [communications] check during the Santa test flight, we learn that the “Intel” [Intelligence] team verified that Jack Frost and Abominable Snowman would not interrupt Santa’s important journey on Christmas Eve. The Cyber team ensured that the “anti-Grinch viral” was in place to ensure the nasty green guy doesn’t steal Christmas this year via cyber-attack. And other NORAD personnel confirmed their assessment of the “load-bearing capacity for all rooftops that Santa will be landing on.

One of the more interesting tidbits is learning of the upgrades made to ground-based radar systems that can now detect heat signatures from smaller objects in the air, “like the heat generated from Rudolph the Reindeer’s red nose.

Fighter Jet Controversy?

Strangely, the use of a fighter jet escort for Santa has generated some controversy this year, even though this is part of the NORAD Santa Tracker tradition that has been in place for years.

NORAD tells kids of the fighter jets:

“Did you know Santa flies faster than starlight? He flies even faster than our fighter jets and slows down for our jets to come up beside him. They tip their wings to say hello, he always waves back and then is off again in the twinkle of an eye!”

However, with some new concerns on the part of a children’s advocacy group which said that the animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website “injects militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa’s sleigh,” NORAD issued this statement on December 3, 2013:

Hi Folks,
We know there have been some questions about our #NORAD fighter jets escorting #Santa this year; this isn’t new. Every year we use our military satellites, radars, fighter jets and Santa Cams to track #Santa during his Yuletide journey. These are the same assets we use to provide homeland defense for North America every day of the year. We talk about this every year.

Each year, we look for ways to update the #NORAD Tracks #Santa program to keep it fresh and interesting. We have always showcased our military assets for tracking Santa on our sites. In fact, each year, the Canadian #NORAD Region (CANR), announces the names of the escort fighter pilots responsible for accompanying #Santa across Canadian skies.

We know for many families that #NORAD Tracks #Santa has become part of your Holiday Traditions. We know that is a huge honor and responsibility. We are proud to track #Santa each year!

NORAD-Santa-Tracker-Canadian-fighter-jet-pilots-2012You can see the two Canadian NORAD fighter jet pilots who were designated to escort Santa through North American airspace in 2012 (see minute 2:27 on the Headquarters NORAD Holiday Message 2012.)

Said the Canadian fighter jet escort pilots to Santa Claus:“We’re going to be your escort for this fantastic voyage… We’ve got your six.”

(Note: The Urban Dictionary defines this oft-used military phrase as follows:

“I got your six” basically means “I’ve got your back” or “I have you covered.” Comes from the old pilot system in which directions correspond to hours on the clock, where 12 o’clock is forward and 6 o’clock is behind. Thus anyone behind you is “at your six.”)

Santa Tracker Technology for Citizens on the Ground

Private citizens around the world can get into the Santa Tracker action as well. These new consumer-oriented innovations from NORAD and its over 55 private partners help you become part of the worldwide Santa Claus mission:

  • New Website: The newly redesigned NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, went live on Sunday, December 1, 2013, featuring a holiday countdown, daily games and activities, videos, music and more.  Beyond a new look, features such as a 3D globe and new interactive games take advantage of today’s modern web.  The site is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
  • BING Maps and Cesium 3-D: Starting at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight through the Bing maps and Cesium technology to show a 2D or realistic 3D, interactive, real-time view of Santa’s journey.
  • Phone or Email: Then, at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to ask about Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.
  • OnStar: Americans and Canadians on the road won’t have to follow the North Star to see where Santa and his reindeer are on Christmas Eve.  Subscribers to the automobile emergency support service OnStar can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to find Santa’s location any time on Dec. 24. See how OnStar is helping NORAD track Santa on this video.
  • Santa Cams: NORAD’s newest “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations in North America and all around the world.
  • Santa Tracker goes Mobile: Get the #NoradSanta apps from Windows, Android, iPhone & tablet by clicking here! Count down to Santa’s journey and more!

This video gives a history of how the Santa Tracker started in 1955 and some of the user technology.

Santa-Inspecting-Santa Cams at NORAD-Santa Tracker headquartersImage: Santa reviews the images from the new Santa Cams at NORAD headquarters. Source: NORAD.

Play Reindeer Games instead of War Games

NORAD Santa Tracker has a number of games and interactive features to help citizens become involved in the Santa tracking mission and enjoy the holiday season:

Santa-Village-Games-on-NORAD-Santa-Tracker-websiteClick to visit Santa’s Village on NORAD Santa Tracker and hear music and play games.


How can I get a copy of Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years, the wonderful hardcover book or eBook of 50 years of NORAD history chock full of color photos and anecdotes, including the Santa Tracker story?

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.  She has been a faithful NORAD Tracks Santa fan for years!


Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15

December 13, 2013

Bill-of-Rights-Founding-Father-President-James-Madison-statue-AP-PhotoImage: James Madison statue in front of Bill of Rights. AP Photo.

We celebrate Bill of Rights Day on December 15 every year in the midst of the bustling holiday season. Although it’s not a Federal holiday, it’s definitely a day for American citizens to commemorate the freedoms we enjoy by law. And no, the right to shop—while popular in America— is not listed in the Bill of Rights!

History of the Bill of Rights

The Founding Fathers drafted the United States Constitution during the First Constitutional Convention, held from May through September 1787 in Philadelphia. The completed draft constitution, sent to the States for ratification in September 1787, did not include any mention of individual rights. The framers’ focus was largely on structuring a strong government, and getting that structure put into place. Without such a structure, the Founding Fathers feared the country’s collapse into chaos or new attacks from outsiders. They left the issue of individual rights without adding it to the Constitution during that meeting.

As a result of this omission, Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry refused to sign the Constitution on principle. Maryland delegates Luther Martin and John Francis Mercer reportedly walked out of the Convention, at least in part because the draft did not include a Bill of Rights. In September, Randolph, Mason and Gerry joined in asking for a second constitutional convention to address the issue of personal rights. All three men advocated strongly for a bill of rights throughout most of the constitutional convention. The people ultimately adopted the Constitution, sans any bill of rights, on September 17, 1787. Eleven states ratified it and it went into effect in 1789.

Founding Father James Madison was a delegate from Virginia who had been a key actor and speaker at the First Constitutional Convention. He had held onto the idea of the individual freedoms as discussed at that Convention. Although Federalist Madison was originally a skeptic about needing a Bill of Rights, like Randolph, Mason and Gerry he came to believe that the inclusion of personal rights was imperative to be added to the United States Constitution.

quote-enlightened-statesmen-will-not-always-be-at-the-helm-President-James-MadisonImage courtesy IZQuotes.

In Madison’s view, the value of a listing of rights was:

  • in part educational for the populace under this new form of Government,
  • in part as a vehicle that might be used to rally people against a future oppressive Government when “less enlightened statesmen” may be in power,
  • and finally–in an argument borrowed from Thomas Jefferson–Madison argued that a declaration of rights would help install the judiciary as “guardians” of individual rights against the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government.

Thus, while serving in the first U.S. House of Representatives, Madison framed and introduced the Bill of Rights as legislative articles to amend the Constitution on June 8, 1789.

He used as a model George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, written in May 1776, and also based his legislative articles in part on the English Bill of Rights (1689), the Magna Carta and other documents.

Painting-Adoption-of-VA-Declaration-of-RightsImage: This painting, The Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, depicting the adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights by the fifth Virginia Revolutionary Convention was made by Jack Clifton in 1974. It now hangs in the Virginia State Capitol. Courtesy: Virginia Memory online exhibit of the Library of Virginia.

What rights are in Bill of Rights?

Painting-of-James-Madison-reading-Bill-of-Rights-to-First-CongressMadison included in his articles a list of rights of the individual, such as free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, free assembly, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and others, as well as some limits on government powers.

Image on the right: Madison reading his Bill of Rights to Congress. Courtesy: University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

On August 21, 1789, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted Madison’s articles, proposed them in a joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and finally ratified them on December 15, 1791.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and is a key “fundamental document” of the United States Federal government.

Cartoon of the Bill of Rights depicting the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. From a 1971 Teacher's Guide transparency for "Young Citizen"

Image: Bill of Rights depicted in cartoon format from 1971 Young Citizen teacher’s guide transparency. Courtesy: Syracuse University. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE and for teacher printable version.

  • First Amendment:  Freedom of Religion, Speech, and Press, the Right to Assemble Peaceably and to Petition the Government “for a redress of grievances.
  • Second Amendment: Right to Keep and Bear Arms- “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • Third Amendment: Quartering of Troops- “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
  • Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure- “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • Fifth Amendment: Grand Jury, Double Jeopardy, Self-Incrimination, Due Process
  • Sixth Amendment: Criminal Prosecutions – Right to  a speedy public trial by an impartial jury, to confront witnesses and to counsel for defense.
  • Seventh Amendment: Common Law Suits –Right to a Trial by Jury
  • Eighth Amendment: No Excessive Bail or Fines or Cruel and Unusual Punishment- “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
  • Ninth Amendment: Non-Enumerated Rights or “Rule of Construction of the Constitution”-  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
  • Tenth Amendment: States’ Rights- Rights not explicitly delegated to the Federal Government in the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the People.

Where can you learn more about the Bill of Rights?

US-Constitution-and-Declaration-of-Independence-Pocket-Guide_I9780160891847 Buy at the US Government Online Bookstore http://bookstore.gpo.gpvIf you want to learn more about the Bill of Rights, an excellent place to start would be reading the source document, the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence; the GPO U.S. Government Bookstore sells a handy Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence Pocket Edition. The full text of the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights is there for you to read and study.

US Citizenship and Immigration Service Civics Flash Cards for the US Naturalization Test ISBN-9780160904608 Available from GPO's US Government Bookstore a http://bookstore.gpo.govImage courtesy Citizenship Guru.

Kids in school, or adults wanting to revisit the fundamentals they learned in civics classes, can learn a lot from the Civics Flash Cards for the U.S. Naturalization Test (English Version)—and obviously the target audience, U.S. residents who want to become American citizens, will benefit from studying these, too.

Spanish-Civics-Flash-Cards-for-US-naturalization-test Tarjetas de Educación Cívica ISBN 9780160902048 Available from the US Government Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.govIf you’re more comfortable reading en español, you can study using the same flash cards in Spanish: Tarjetas de Educación Cívica para el Exámen de Naturalización to cover the same material.

You can also listen to the same questions in English on the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) website. (I didn’t see them offered in Spanish on their site, though.) If you’re cramming for the naturalization or a civics exam, listening to the questions is excellent reinforcement for your study plan.

Mini-Quiz from the Citizenship Test

Civics-Flash-Cards-Question-38If you’ve already read this post, or studied the Constitution, you will probably ace questions #1 and #2 of the United States naturalization test for citizenship:

  1. “What is the supreme law of the land?”
  2. “What does the Constitution do?”
  3. “What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?” (Bonus points if you get the answer to this question #5 correct!)

(Answers: 1- The Constitution. 2- Sets up the government; Defines the government; Protects basic rights of Americans. 3- The Bill of Rights, of course! )

For even more challenging questions based on the U.S. Citizenship test, take our fun Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

In-depth civics questions can be answered by the capsule summary answers to the questions in Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lesson for the Naturalization Test 2013 (Book Plus CD). Students need to know the principles and background behind the answers, not just the answers themselves, obviously.

Question six asks, “What is ONE right or freedom from the First Amendment?” The text lists the possible answers, and then relates the reasons for the guarantee of those freedoms. The authors explain freedom of expression as follows:

“The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects a person’s right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression allows open discussion and debate on public issues. Open discussion and debate are important to democracy.”

You’ll definitely have a thorough grounding in the basics of American Federal government by the time you’re done with the lesson.

The Right to Exercise… Your Rights, That Is

Exercise your right to open discussion by reading some of these documents, and talking to friends about them. If you are a school student, maybe you’ll have an opportunity to write about the Bill of Rights or the freedoms the Bill of Rights guarantee.

1963-2013-Civil-Rights-logoIn this year, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of three significant events from the Civil Rights movement— the March on Washington for Rights and Freedom, the murder of African-American civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama— it’s a good time to reflect on our civil rights and liberties, and how lucky we are to have them.

Image: Civil Rights Movement 50th Anniversary logo. Courtesy: City of Birmingham, Alabama

How can you obtain official publications that explain the Bill of Rights and other documents of American rights?

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Happy holidays from us both!


Go Native and Get Healthy: Fight diabetes with a healthy Native American diet

November 21, 2013

It’s Native American Heritage Month! Let’s celebrate! Let’s have some pumpkin seeds and some corn silk tea!

American Indian girl with Navajo fry breadThis month is a month to honor Indian heritage, and many powwows* and festivals are being held to honor Indian culture, so you definitely want to do something festive. There are few Indian celebrations that do not include luscious frybread, with its accompaniment of Indian taco meat, honey or colored syrup. (Frybread or fry bread, a notable Native American food, is the official “state bread” of South Dakota!)

Image: Native American girl holding a plate of Navajo frybread. Photo credit: AP

The temptations of frybread aside, a better way to for you to celebrate would be with a healthy food, like an apple or a carrot stick. Maybe you’d even be interested in going hardcore by adopting a native foodways diet, like the foods eaten in the Decolonizing Diet Project.

Appropriately, November is also Diabetes Awareness Month, which ties in with Native American Heritage Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked the two and created the Native Diabetes Wellness Program, since “American Indian and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely to have diagnosed type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic whites” (Diabetes Among American Indians and Alaska Natives, CDC). It’s more important to stop this high incidence of type 2 diabetes and obesity among Native peoples, starting with the patients themselves—especially since 27.4% of Indians lack health care coverage, according to the 2012 American Community Survey from the Census Bureau. One way to do that is to encourage eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Living a Balanced Life With Diabetes: A Toolkit Addressing Psychosocial Issues for American Indian and Alaska Native Populations (Kit) ISBN: 9780160913662A number of Indian health professionals, writers and activists have written and promoted healthy habits for Indians. For adult American Indians and Alaska Natives, the Indian Health Service has developed the multimedia kit Living a Balanced Life With Diabetes: A Toolkit Addressing Psychosocial Issues for American Indian and Alaska Native Populations.

Of course, the earlier you start to create change within a population, the better chance you have of changing a trend in that society. Nambé Pueblo health education specialist Georgia Perez wrote the first four books of the “Eagle Books” series for children with this intention. The series includes the titles 1) Through the Eyes of the Eagle, 2) Knees Lifted High, 3) Plate Full of Color, 4) Tricky Treats. and 5) the middle school book, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream.

CDC-Eagle-Book-Series for children using American Indian stories to teach healthy eating and preventing diabetesThe first four titles are folio-sized (large format) full-color picture books for story time reading, with a target audience of Indian children in second and third grade. Lisa A. Fifield, a member of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin (Black Bear Clan), and Patrick Rolo, a member of Bad River Band of Ojibwe, painted the lush watercolors that illustrate the first four books in the series. Perez and Lofton wrote the books from an Indian perspective with Indian characters, and Indians created the entire enterprise. With more than two million copies distributed to libraries, schools, Indian cultural centers, and more, according to the CDC, the program is a real success (The Story of Eagle Books, CDC).

All of the books are rooted in Indian cultural traditions, and advocate eating a healthy diet and exercising to avoid diabetes and maintain a healthy body. The CDC planned to continue the Eagle Books series with chapter books for middle school children, but unfortunately the agency was unable to continue the series after they published the first book, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream, by Terry Lofton. The five volumes that CDC has published forward the message of harmony of the individual with nature, culture, and health. Ms. Perez makes particular points against type 2 diabetes.eagle-books-rain-that-dances-mr-eagle

The character of the Eagle talks with the Indian boy Thunder Cloud,

[Mr. Eagle] “Yesterday, I told Rain That Dances that many of your people are getting very sick from a disease called diabetes. Even some young people have diabetes now.”

[Thunder Cloud] “What is diabetes?”

[Mr. Eagle] “Diabetes is when your body does not use the food you eat the right way. So there is too much sugar, or glucose, in the blood. It can make people sick if it is not in balance. Just as your tummy is in balance when you eat the right amount of food — not too much, not too little, but just right — your body needs to have just the right balance of sugar in your blood. But someone who has diabetes can learn to take care of it and stay healthy. And you can do things to keep from getting this disease. One very good way is to do something every day to get your body moving” (Knees Lifted High, p. 2).

Balance is a key value among the cherished values of most Indian nations, and using this kind of language speaks to everyone, and most particularly to Indian children.

Although the author and illustrators dedicated the books to the idea of promoting Native American cultures and health, the messages provided in them can speak to any child. Eagle and Rabbit refer to “sometimes foods”, a phrase that will be familiar to any Cookie Monster fan that has been to Sesame Street. The art is so inviting that it will draw readers in to learn more and care about the characters, who are earnestly trying to improve their lives. You root for them to win. After reading these books, I was ready to trade in my frybread for a solid diet of cattail bread, wild rice salad and three sisters.

*For those unfamiliar with Indian culture, a powwow is a social gathering of Native Americans featuring dancing, drum music, singing, arts and crafts demonstrations and sales, and traditional tribal foods—and often, frybread and Indian tacos as well. Attendees include Indians and non-natives; the gatherings also provide an opportunity for elders to teach youth native tribal dances and other traditional practices.

How can I obtain these Native American and healthy eating publications?

1)    FOR THE PUBLIC

2)    FOR LIBRARIANS

Librarians can find the records for Tricky Treats, Knees Lifted High, Plate Full of Color, Through the Eyes of the Eagle and Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications or CGP.

About the author(s): Adapted from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


Be a NOAA-it-all with these FREE NOAA resources about the weather and oceans

November 12, 2013

In the morning when I get on the elevator up to my office in GPO headquarters, when they aren’t talking about sports, everyone is chatting about the weather. My colleagues compare the day’s weather with previous years and talk about what’s coming in the days and seasons ahead. Since Washington, DC’s weather varies greatly throughout the year (even through the day!), people in this area are always taking the pulse of the outdoors and our world. In a similar vein, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, the U.S. Government’s oldest scientific agency, is taking the pulse of the Earth, for our benefit.

Graohic of NOAA services from Explore NOAA movie on Government Book Talk by GPOClick here to “Explore NOAA” in this movie about the Nation’s oldest scientific agency. 

You can be a NOAA-it-all with these FREE online resources

NOAA says that “Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them.” As such, its mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

Once they’ve taken the Earth’s pulse, of course NOAA wants to share the output of their studies. The data the agency gathers when studying the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans is comprehensive, and it is a global leader in communicating how Earth’s atmosphere and water systems influence people’s lives and how they influence those systems. If you learn how to navigate the range of NOAA’s free online resources, including real-time and archived information, you will get the full benefit of this rich data.

NOAA educates and disseminates data from its many valuable services, including the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Service, the National Weather Service and others. Their information comes packaged in videos, weather alerts, digital coastal charts, entire databases, atlases, podcasts, screensavers, sea sounds, field reports, tagging data, and an entire education Web site for teachers and kids. NOAA has resources for children that are as unique and valuable as their science.

Whether to Weather

For instance, NOAA’s Weather Systems and Patterns page has a multimedia, lessons and activities, real world data, background information and career profiles. A student who is interested in extreme weather can graph tornado air pressure in the lessons section, investigate the severe weather events page in the real world data, track a storm in the multimedia section, read the background on severe weather, and even flirt with future career possibilities in the career profile of the tornado chaser.

NOAA Watch out-- Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn's Weather Book available from http://bookstore.gpo.govIf the student wants to follow up with extra reading at home with advice for the whole family,  Watch out– Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn’s Weather Book can help round out the lesson. Total immersion in a topic is possible without ever leaving the site.

Free resources for teachers and students is a bonus that teachers, parents, caregivers and students should take full advantage of, and NOAA’s Education Resources page is a just one prime example what the agency’s got on offer for the American people.

Coastal Maps and Navigational Charts

Another instance of NOAA’s rich resources is its coastal maps. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey recently announced that they were no longer issuing printed U.S. Coastal maps; instead, they now make high-resolution Raster Navigational Charts for public use. The Office of Coast Survey offers over high quality, 400 dpi full-color digital images of NOAA’s entire suite of paper charts, for download and printing. Sailors, commercial fisherman, and anyone else interested can view and print these charts as well as the free Air Almanac, Nautical Almanac and Navigational Charts available from http://bookstore.gpo.govdemo software to use them; this is data of high commercial value available completely for free for the American people as well.

Note that up-to-date, printed US Government astronomical, air and nautical navigational charts and almanacs are still available from the US Government Bookstore under Transportation & Navigation > Almanacs & Navigation Guides.

Webinar on NOAA’s Free Online Resources

Librarians and Teachers: Attending tomorrow’s joint NOAA-GPO webinar, “Discover Your World With NOAA: Learn How NOAA Monitors the Pulse of the Earth, and How to Access and Use NOAA’s Free Online Resources” is a great way you can learn to reap the benefit of NOAA’s rich data offerings. Registration for this free training webinar is available now. It will be offered Wednesday, November 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time;  GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division (LSCM) will archive the session on the free GPO Webinar Archive for those who cannot attend. Hopefully you can make it to the live webinar or find some time to look at the archived webinar after it takes place.

NOAA’s Ark of Great Reads

IUnderstanding Marine Debris: Games & Activities for Kids of All Ages: Marine Debris 101 ISBN 9780160913624 available from bookstore.gpo.govn addition to attending the webinar, you can mine some of NOAA’s resources by reading some of these stellar NOAA publications:

Satellite-Images-to-Accpompany-the-Globe-Earth-System-Poster-Learning-NOAA-9780160864643

How can I obtain these NOAA publications?

1)    FOR THE PUBLIC

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or clicking here to shop our entire NOAA collection.
  • Order by Phone: Call our 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 from this collection 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.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

2)    FOR LIBRARIANS

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


The Constitution Annotated: The Pursuit of App-iness

September 17, 2013

follow-the-founding-fathers-david-bowman_computerIn preparing for this Constitution Day blog post, not only did I retake the civics quiz from last year’s Constitution Day post (see Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?), I also scrolled through my tablet last night, reading the Preamble to the Constitution and looking up related quotes. Then it occurred to me: if Founding Father George Washington had been alive today, would he have been a PC or an Apple guy? I’m betting our pragmatic First President would be a PC guy. I’m pretty sure innovator Thomas Jefferson would have been a stylish iPad man, and Benjamin Franklin, inventor of the bifocals, would probably be sporting Google Glasses now and tinkering with them.

Image: Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington. Original Illustration by David Bowman from his book “What Would the Founding Fathers Think?”

constitution-annotated-printWhat is clear is that our Founding Fathers were strategic thinkers who realized that a fully functioning republic needed a clear but flexible code of law that evolved with the Nation. Thus, they wrote the Constitution of the United States, which has stood the test of time with over two centuries of amendments and interpretations by all branches of the U.S. Federal Government.

CONAN for the Librarian (and Lawyers)

Since 1913, the Senate has directed that a publication be issued summarizing the current state of the Constitution to date, with all the amendments and the official interpretations, with the analysis today provided by the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service. This publication is called The Constitution of the United States of America, Analysis and Interpretation, popularly known as the Constitution Annotated or “CONAN” among the real insiders.

Constitution-of-the-US-Pocket-GuideIn addition, many Americans, including Members of Congress, buy a pocket print edition of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to carry around with them at all times. (Click on image to the left.)

Constitution Goes Mobile and Online

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Constitution Annotated publication, and to celebrate it and Constitution Day, the Government Printing Office (GPO) not only issued the Centennial Edition in print, but has also worked with the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Library of Congress to develop and launch both a new mobile app as well as a web publication that make analysis and interpretation of constitutional case law by Library experts accessible for free to anyone with a computer or mobile device.

The new resources, which include analysis of Supreme Court cases through June 26, 2013, will be updated multiple times each year as new court decisions are issued.  Legal professionals, teachers, students and anyone researching the constitutional implications of a particular topic can easily locate constitutional amendments, federal and state laws that were held unconstitutional, and tables of recent cases with corresponding topics and constitutional implications.

The new app and improved web publication will make the nearly 3,000-page “Constitution Annotated” more accessible to more people and enable updates of new case analysis three or four times each year.

Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks said,

“Through this collaborative project, the Library of Congress and GPO are providing the public with timely access to an enhanced, authenticated version of the “Constitution Annotated” through GPO’s Federal Digital System. This is another example of how GPO works with Congress, the Library and other agencies to meet the information needs of the American people in the digital age.”

Keeping our “Complex Machinery” in Working Order

On May 19, 1821, years after the Constitution was adopted, John Adams wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson that:

“A free government is a complicated piece of machinery, the nice and exact adjustment of whose springs, wheels, and weights, is not yet well comprehended by the artists of the age, and still less by the people.”

Even though our Founding Fathers could not have envisioned a digital future complete with the Internet and smartphones, the framework they put in place has been able to roll with the times. Americans know that our system is indeed a “complicated piece of machinery,” with our laws serving as the user manual, but tools like the Constitution Annotated– in print or now online or on your mobile device– now exist to help keep our machinery of democracy well oiled.

George-Washingtons-Annotated-Copy-of-a-Draft-of-the-U.S.-ConstitutionImage: Even George Washington annotated his copy of the Constitution! (seen left). Source: National Archives

How can I obtain The Constitution Annotated?

1) Buy the Print Edition of The Constitution of the United States of America, Analysis and Interpretation, Centennial Edition

2) Mobile app version of the Constitution Annotated

  • For Apple iOS Devices: Download the new Constitution Annotated app for iOS devices for free from Apple’s iTunes Store or via this direct link: http://beta.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/.
  • ·        For Android Devices: An Android version of this app is under development.

3) Constitution Annotated web publication on FDsys.gov

The Constitution Annotated web publication will be available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) www.fdsys.gov as a digitally-signed, searchable PDF that includes a linked table of contents, a linked table of cases, a linked index and GPO’s Seal of Authenticity on every page.

The new Constitution Annotated and a suite of constitutional resources can be viewed at http://beta.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/. The page features links to the app stores, an interactive table listing recent cases of high interest, a bibliography of Constitution-related primary documents in American history and tips for searching the Constitution Annotated on GPO’s website at www.gpo.gov/constitutionannotated.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Inspires Kids to Hug a Tree

April 23, 2013

Two publications show us the way… to care for trees this Arbor Day!

Lorax-Forest-Service-LaunchWith Earth Day yesterday and Arbor Day this Friday, April 26, and all week as National Parks Week, this is the perfect time to do something to help a tree grow or plant something new to celebrate the miracle of spring. If there are little ones in your life—children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or friends of kids that you love—it’s a good time to teach them to love trees, plants, and flowers, too.

Image: The head of the Forest Service with the Lorax for the launch of the U.S. Forest Service’s Discover the Forest program which aims to inspire tweens (aged 8-12) and their parents to re-connect with nature, experiencing it first-hand. The campaign brings to life the joy and excitement kids have when they discover the wonders of nature, helping create interest in their environment and a lifelong relationship with it. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

The best way to get kids to appreciate nature, according to Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Curriculum Guide, is to take them outdoors—and “according to the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, children in the U.S. spend 50% less time outdoors than they did 20 years ago.” To counter the initial cries of “I want TV”, however, it helps to give kids directed activities when they go outside.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council have developed a partnership with Project Learning Tree and Universal Pictures to create an educational curriculum plan based on “The Lorax” film and story. The curriculum supports the Forest Service’s “Discover the Forest” campaign (See image caption above).

Lorax-Classroom-Guide_Plant-a-Tree

Image: “Plant a Tree” page 21 from the Lorax Classroom Guide.

Teachers can download for FREE the complete classroom guide of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Curriculum Guide as a PDF, or can download the individual activities to use in class (as long as it is for educational, and not commercial, purposes). There’s an interactive map of places you can go in the United States that have campgrounds, national forests, state campgrounds, etc. There’s a page of games and activities such as how to use a compass, take a virtual hike, create a leaf rubbing or become a Jr. Forest Ranger on the Web site.

The printed teacher’s guide has tests, bibliographies for the students, labs (plant a tree with the Lorax), and student pages for various grade levels (I saw K-4 and 6-8). Families are encouraged to use these activities, too.

 

Why would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? continues the ecological and conservation-minded discussion you might want to pursue with your kids or students this week.

However, this volume approaches conservation from a silvicultural perspective, rather than the Lorax’ perspective of promoting a child’s approach of nature generally. The age range for the publication is 8 and up, and the material might be a bit young for older middle school children—so its material is more directed to a specific age range. The Forest Service published this document also, and the authors are a writer/ editor / educator with the Forest Service and an illustrator with previous experience illustrating tree guides.

The book shows children the life cycle of trees, the need to remove sick trees, the uses for wood from cut trees, and types of trees that are dangerous, all so beautifully illustrated by Juliette Watts that they make the lessons come alive.

Purchase a copy from the GPO U.S. Government Online Bookstore, and flop under a tree canopy to read the story and appreciate all the gifts that nature has to give us.

As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”  It’s up to us (and the Forest Service and its partners) to encourage children to care a whole awful lot about our trees and forests. Using these publications is good a way to make that happen!


How can I find these publications?

1) Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Curriculum Guide

  • You can find it via our PURL (Permanent URL)
  • Locate it through GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications CGP catalog record. GPO has cataloged both the print and the electronic versions to make things “a whole awful lot better” for the Federal Depository libraries that got it in the April 2013 record load.
  • Find it in a federal depository library near you.

2) Why would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?

  • Purchase it on GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s Main (retail) Bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 8:30am to 4pm Eastern Time, except Federal holidays. Call (202) 512-0132 for information.
  • Find it in a Federal Depository library.

About the Author(s):

Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor and U.S. Government Online Bookstore Manager Michele Bartram from a post written for the FDLP Community Blog by guest blogger Jennifer Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


%d bloggers like this: