Behind the Headlines
Explore our world, one headline at a time.
World Book Editors break down the news in our Behind the Headlines feature allowing for a deeper understanding of the complex events that shape our world today. Behind the Headlines articles are carefully crafted presenting the latest national and world news, science discoveries, current events and other top stories and are simplified for young readers.
Today, November 17, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of prolific French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Earlier this year, the Grand Palais in Paris, France, celebrated the anniversary with “Rodin: The Centennial Exhibition” from March through July.
Polish-born French physicist Marie Curie was born 150 years ago today on Nov. 7, 1867. Curie, famous for her research on radioactivity, was the first woman awarded a Nobel Prize.
Today, September 15, marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Mes de la Herencia Hispana) in the United States. To celebrate the month, World Book begins by highlighting the life and achievements of writer Juan Felipe Herrera.
Tomorrow, August 18, marks the 150th birthday of British explorer Percy Fawcett. Fawcett gained fame in the early 1900’s for exploring parts of the Amazon rain forest of South America. Fawcett’s fame was reignited earlier this year with the release of The Lost City of Z, a film about Fawcett’s intriguing adventures.
New excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia, have provided evidence that humans first arrived there around 65,000 years ago. That date, based on sophisticated modern dating methods, pushes back the earliest physical evidence for human occupation in Australia by at least 15,000 years. The discovery is forcing scientists to reevaluate some common theories about the ancestors of today’s Aboriginal people of Australia.
Eighty years ago today, German photographer Gerda Taro was killed covering the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Taro, a close friend and colleague of famed photographer Robert Capa, was the first woman war correspondent killed on assignment. She died during the Battle of Brunete on July 26, 1937, just a few days before her 27th birthday.
On June 27, 1977, forty years ago today, in a hot, dusty corner of northeastern Africa, the French Territory of the Afars and Issas became the independent nation of Djibouti. The Afars and the Issas—two traditionally nomadic ethnic groups—make up most of Djibouti’s population of nearly 1 million people. Djibouti gained independence in 1977 from France, which had controlled the Djibouti area since the 1880’s.
June is the sixth month of the year, a month that welcomes summer, weddings, and LGBT Pride. June is known for barbecues, baseball, and blossoming flowers. The month includes Independence Day in the Philippines, Father’s Day, Juneteenth, and Midsummer’s Day. In the United States, June is also National Caribbean American Heritage Month. The month recognizes the contributions of Caribbean Americans and celebrates their diverse heritage, languages, and cultures.
Recent studies show that Homo naledi, an intriguing species of prehistoric humans, may have lived far more recently than previously believed. Paleoanthropologists (scientists who study human evolution) say that H. naledi, a primitive hominin (human ancestor) known from a collection of fossils discovered at the Rising Star cave system in South Africa, may have lived at the same time and in the same region as more advanced prehistoric humans.
On Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, events across the United States marked the 100th birthday of former President John F. Kennedy (widely known by his initials, JFK). Kennedy served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until his death in 1963. Many Americans saw JFK’s election and brief time in office—often idealized as “Camelot”—as an inspiring national renewal.
On Sunday, May 21, the iconic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus gave its final performance at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The grand finale of the traveling circus, long billed as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” came after years of evolving cultural tastes, declining revenues, and increasing costs.
On Saturday, May 13, Portugal’s Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song, “Amar Pelos Dois” (Love for Both of Us). The Portuguese-language ballad was written by Sobral’s sister, Luisa. Sobral is the first Portuguese artist to win the the hugely popular European contest.
Last month, on April 24, United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Peggy Whitson set a new record for cumulative time in space by an American astronaut as she began her 535th day beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Currently on board the International Space Station (ISS), Whitson surpassed the previous record of 534 total space days set by astronaut Jeffrey Williams in 2016.
This week’s Mythic Monday returns to the misty shores of Ireland. Heroic tales, romances, and sagas make up a major part of early Irish literature. These works are based on legends and were probably recorded from about A.D. 700 into the 1200’s. One of the most familiar figures of early Irish lore is Finn MacCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill in Irish).
As part of May’s celebration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), World Book today features the Purple Heart Battalion, the nickname given to a Japanese American unit in the United States Army during World War II (1939-1945). The unit was officially the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Looking ahead to May’s celebration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), today World Book wishes a happy 100th birthday to renowned Chinese American architect I.M. Pei. One of the world’s greatest architects, Pei is noted for his creative urban designs of skyscrapers, housing projects, museums, and academic and government buildings.
World Book’s final April birthday for Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) is a big one: jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald was born 100 years ago today on April 25, 1917. Fitzgerald was one of the best and most popular singers in jazz history. Often called the “first lady of song,” she was known for her pure and beautiful tone, extended range, flawless intonation, and strong sense of jazz feeling.
In our next installment for Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), World Book celebrates the birthday of music legend Tito Puente. Puente was born on April 20, 1923, in New York City. He ranks among the most important figures in the history of Latin popular music. Puente was an influential bandleader, composer, arranger, and musician.
This week’s Mythic Monday features Anubis, one of the best-known gods of ancient Egyptian mythology. Famously depicted in ancient Egyptian art as a crouching jackal or dog, or as a man with a jackal’s head, Anubis served as the god of mummification, the ancient Egyptian technique of embalming the dead.
World Book’s Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) continues with happy birthday wishes for jazz legend Herbie Hancock, who turns 77 years old today, April 12. Hancock is an influential and versatile musician, bandleader, and composer. He has had some of the best-selling albums in jazz history, and his music has earned him 14 Grammy Awards.
The winners of the 101st Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday by Columbia University on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board. The awards are given in the United States each year for distinguished achievement in journalism, literature, drama, and music.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) in the United States. Jazz is a kind of music that is often considered the only art form truly native to the United States. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History began JAM in 2002.
World Book continues its celebration of Women’s History Month with a look at Jeannette Rankin, who in 1916—almost four years before women had the right to vote nationally in the United States—became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
Today, March 28, marks 100 years since the death of American artist Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917). Ryder is considered one of the most original of American painters. He is best known for his brooding night scenes of the sea and dreamlike landscapes.
Over the weekend, rock fans around the world mourned the loss of American music legend Chuck Berry, who died Saturday, March 18, at his home near St. Louis, Missouri. He was 90 years old.
Last Friday, March 17, was St. Patrick’s Day. And while each year on that day many people wear shamrocks in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, Hibernophiles (fans of Irish culture) might also want to honor the great mythological defender of all Ireland: Cuchulainn (koo KUHL ihn).
March 16 marks the birthday of British navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and charted much of Australia’s coast in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Flinders was born in England on March 16, 1774. In 1794, he sailed to the British colony of New South Wales, Australia.
World Book continues its celebration of Women’s History Month with a look at Australian feminist (promoter of women’s rights) and campaigner for woman suffrage (voting rights) Vida Goldstein (VY duh GOHLD styn). Goldstein was instrumental in helping to win the right to vote for Australian women in 1902—the second country to grant women full voting rights after New Zealand (1893).
This week’s mythological figure is the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest epic poems in world literature. It tells the adventures of the Sumerian king Gilgamesh. Sumer was an ancient region in southern Mesopotamia (now southeastern Iraq). Historians believe Gilgamesh probably existed, so like King Arthur, he is not technically an entirely mythic figure.
Hard gunk stuck in the teeth of fossil Neandertal jaws shows that the prehistoric human beings had a widely varied diet and a sophisticated knowledge of medicinal plants.
Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), and in honor of Women’s History Month, we look at this global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. In recent years, the day has also become a call to action for accelerating gender parity. IWD is celebrated around the world with arts performances, conferences, marches, rallies, talks, and networking events.
It was a night of Oscar firsts on Sunday, February 26, at the 89th Academy Awards, presented at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood,California. But one of those was a first that the Academy would undoubtedly rather forget.
In honor of Black History Month, today we look at the Montford Point Marines of World War II (1939-1945). “Montford Point Marines” was the nickname given to the first African American units to serve in the United States Marine Corps.
Whatever the historical truth, it is Arthur’s legend that has captivated people’s imaginations for centuries. The exploits of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are among the most famous of Western literature, and—real or not—Arthur is one of the most admired heroes in the history of British culture.
When it comes to matters of the heart, Aphrodite reigns supreme in Greek mythology. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The Romans, who named their gods and goddesses after planets and stars, called her Venus. Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods, and the goddess Dione.
In December 2016, an exhibition of the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo opened at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The museum, home to a broad collection of the works of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí, is showing more than 60 of Kahlo’s works through the middle of April 2017. “Frida Kahlo at the Dalí” includes 15 paintings, 7 drawings, and numerous photographs.
A brief call of nature recently led an Aboriginal man to discover a site preserving some of the oldest known evidence of human settlement in Australia. Clifford Coulthard, an Adnyamathanha elder, stumbled across a rock shelter during a brief bathroom break while surveying in the northern Flinders Range with archaeologist Giles Hamm of La Trobe University in Melbourne.
Today, November 15, is the 700th anniversary of the birth of King John I of France in 1316. Never heard of him? Well, a few things make John I a unique (but also rather obscure) figure in French history. First, he was the last in direct father-son succession of the Capetian dynasty, a line of kings that ruled France from 987 to 1328.
In a shocking result, voters in the United States elected Republican businessman Donald Trump to be the nation’s next president. Trump upended Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had been widely expected to win the election.
Yesterday, October 31, was the 75th anniversary of the completion of theMount Rushmore National Memorial. Carved into on a granite cliff in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the giant-sized presidential faces on Mount Rushmore have symbolized American creativity and history, as well as the nation’s variety of natural beauty, since the memorial opened in 1941.
Tonight, October 25, the Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series begins in Cleveland, Ohio. The World Series determines the MLB champion each autumn, but the teams involved in this year’s series make it a little extra special.
The Ig Nobels, a parody of the “other” Nobels, celebrate the more humorous, witty, and sometimes trivial side of science. Many of the projects honored at the Ig Nobels are done purely for fun, but the projects (and their creators) are not without merit or the possibility of importance.
On Saturday, September 24, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened to the public in Washington, D.C. Located on the National Mall, the museum details the history of slavery, the period of Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, segregation, and civil rights.
On Wednesday, September 14, Carla D. Hayden was sworn in as the new Librarian of Congress. Hayden is the first woman, the first African American, and only the third professional librarian to lead the Library of Congress, one of the world’s largest libraries.
Fifty years ago today, on Sept. 8, 1966, the science-fiction televisionprogram “Star Trek” first aired on NBC in the United States and CTV in Canada.
Tonight, the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games will take place in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Millions of people around the world will tune in to watch the pomp and circumstance of the parade of the national teams as they enter Rio’s famous Maracanã Stadium.
On Aug. 3, 1936—80 years ago today—African American track and field star Jesse Owens won the gold medal in the men’s 100-meter dash at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
On Sunday, July 24, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Mike Piazza became the newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Yesterday, July 13, British politician Theresa May became prime minister of the United Kingdom.
About the picture: Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrate outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Some hold portraits of slain civil rights...