Today in History: E.B. White’s Birthday

| July 11, 2016

160711_news_219x365

Today is E.B. White’s 117th birthday, for he is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of his readers, children through adults. Elwyn Brooks White was born on July 11, 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York; graduated from Cornell University in 1921; worked for The New Yorker magazine; and lived on a farm in Maine where he kept animals — the inspiration we can see for his beloved children’s classics, Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte’s Web (1952), and Trumpet of the Swan (1970). He died at the age of 86 in North Brooklin, Maine, and his work to this day continues to be read, adapted, and enjoyed in homes, schools, theaters, and other places throughout the world.

We fondly recall a mouse, Stuart; spider, Charlotte; pig, Wilbur; and swan, Louis, depicted with human qualities in imaginary, memorable tales. But it is this story, the first E.B. White given to me as a girl, and set amongst my favorites in an antiqued, orange and yellow bookcase, that stays with me the longest: A trumpeter swan, born speechless, goes to school with the help of 11 year old Sam Weaver. Later, he finds his voice, thanks to a brass trumpet stolen by his father from a music shop. Knowing how to read, Louis, aptly named, plays taps, a reveille, mess call, and even composes a love song for the beautiful Serena, another trumpeter swan. He not only saves her from the fate of the zoo, but flies out west to start together anew — years later to be overheard by the grown up Sam. Though perhaps less read than the other two classics, Trumpet of the Swan is a symbolic gem — spaciously and serenely full of life lessons: beauty and grace in learning and listening; strength in overcoming difficulty and disability; peacefulness through forgiveness and friendship. Happy Birthday, E.B. White!

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers which serves to inspire research, as well as classroom learning and teaching.

 

Tip: Check Educat, the catalog of the Gottesman Libraries, for holdings of works,  slide design-EB White birthdayincluding children’s books, letters, and essays written by E.B. White.

Also take a look at TeachingBooks.net for a wealth of information, including author interviews, readings, book guides, and lesson plans for E.B. White and his writings.

***

Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context.

See here for more announcements concerning special news displays in July.