Label: Seymour Simon

March 29, 2012

At one time, I had many freshwater tropical aquariums set up around my house. I was very much into the hobby of keeping tropical fish. I had all kinds of tropical fish in my tanks: angels, neons, barbs, tetras, guppies, white clouds, dwarf cichlids and many more. I even had several marine tanks set up and wrote a book about them called TROPICAL SALTWATER AQUARIUMS, How to Set Them Up and Keep Them Going. But over the years, I kept fewer tanks of fish and finally there were no tanks left.

I haven’t kept tanks for years.

 But I’ve started again. I’ve just set up two small freshwater aquariums. Here’s what I did. 

I washed out the tanks thoroughly, using NO SOAP at all, just water and a clean (never used) sponge. Then I rinsed the tanks completely and set them in safe places that were strong enough to support their weights when they were full of water, gravel, plants and fish. Water weighs a lot; you should figure that an aquarium averages about 10 pounds a gallon, so a ten-gallon aquarium is going to weight about 100 pounds.

I poured tap water into the aquarium and let the water age for several days. I also added a water conditioner, which helped the water age more quickly. 

I washed out about two pounds of gravel per gallon in a new plastic bucket (remember NO SOAP) and then poured the gravel into the aquarium.


I added a filter, a small water heater and then planted a few underwater plants. After another few days I added a few fish: white clouds, platys, cherry barbs and two small catfish.


So far the fish seem fine. I’ll keep reporting to you about how they are doing and also show you some photographs. If you have a tropical fish tank and home or in class, write about your experiences and send me some photos too!  

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Simon, Pets, Fish, Aquarium   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 21, 2012




When Seymour Simon visited Carl Sandburg Elementary School in Springfield, Illinois last week, he was interviewed by the 5th Grade Sandburg News Team. Click on the "Play" button below to see their report. (Be patient - it may take a minute or two to load!).





Posted by: Liz Nealon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Kids Write, Seymour Simon, Video   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 18, 2012


Last week, Seymour Simon visited Carl Sanburg Elementary School, in Springfield, Illinois. The fourth and fifth graders made a wonderful book - 100 pages long! - about his life and his books. We decided to scan some of the book and make it into a video, which you can see here. Hope everyone enjoys it!




Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Kids Write, Seymour Simon, Video   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 9, 2012



I had a wonderful time with the kids at the Menands School yesterday. Each group I spoke with were terrific participants, well-prepared, asking and answering good questions. We had a lot of fun together.

These fifth graders prepared a presentation that included a music performance and an original poem! Here is a video of their performance; the words of their poem are below.

Science and nature he knows very well,

When he writes a book it surely will sell.

Lions and tigers, planets and trees,

Puppies and kittens and human disease.

Tornadoes and blizzards, earthquakes and rain,

He knows all about them, he uses his brain!

Past and present, old and new,

Unsolved mysteries he presents to you.

Read Seymour Simon whenever you can,

And when you do, you’ll become his fan.

Dogs are born both blind and deaf,

Police dogs stop all kinds of theft.

Bloodhounds, terriers, yorkies and shar pei

Are all kinds of dogs that love to play.

Writing nonfiction, advanced technician,

Animals, animals, animals!

Outer space and weather,

Science is his mission.

He is the dean, he is the man,

He can write about anything, yes he can!

He’s taught science, he’s taught writing,

Everything he writes is so exciting!

Funny books, lots of laughs,

Airplane books and tall giraffes.

Science is his main theory,

All those books must make him weary.

Rattlesnakes, hyenas and devil rays

make his book a fright,

And sharks, bats, grizzly bears

are animals that will bite.

Vultures and Gila Monsters

are an interesting lot

But spiders are creepy

and they’re hard to spot.

Writing nonfiction, advanced technician

Animals, animals, animals!

Outer space and weather,

Science is his mission.

Huge coastal storms known as hurricanes,

He knows all about them, he uses his brain.

The history of them, old and new.

And how they can form, he tells to you.

He knows how they start, he knows how they end,

Writing so much he started a trend.


*Fifth graders - I think I missed a word here or there. Someone write and help me correct these lyrics! And thank you again to Mrs. Ford, all the faculty and especially the kids at Menands School for a great day!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Kids Write, Seymour Simon, Video   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2012

Students in Springfield, Illinois and their teachers are preparing for my visit next week. They sent me a number of questions which I decided to answer here, so that everyone can read.

Tommy W. asked: Have you ever been diving before?

(SS) Yes, I used to love scuba diving, seeing the fish and collecting shells. It is an amazing world under the sea! In fact, my next book, which is coming out this summer, is about CORAL REEFS. 

Izzy wants to know: How many dolphins are there in the world?

(SS) This is a hard question to answer, since there are at least 45 different dolphin species, and they live all over the world. Some species are declining or endangered, other species are growing and doing well. Scientists estimate that there are about 170-million dolphins currently living on Earth. You can learn a lot more about dolphins in my book about these magnificent creatures.

Tyler C’s question: How long have you been a discovering all this knowledge? (SS) I have loved nature since I was a little kid. Although I grew up in the Bronx - a very crowded part of New York City - the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. In fact, when I grew up one of the first books I wrote was called SCIENCE IN A VACANT LOT.

Maddie R.: How do you get all of the pictures in your books? Have you ever
been bitten?
 Sydnee wondered much the same thing: How do you take pictures of sharks without getting bitten?


(SS) I am asked this a lot because photographs are such a big part of telling the stories in my books. Sometimes I travel to places myself and take the photographs. I have photographed glaciers in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawaii and wildfires in California. Other times, I arrange to use other people’s photographs. 

Often these kinds of photographs are taken by the biologists who study the animals because they are with them so often, and have many opportunities to catch just the "right moment" on film. 

These photographers also use very specialized camera equipment, so that they can photograph a dangerous animal from a safe distance, even though the photograph looks as though they are very close by. This distance keeps them from startling the animal, provoking an attack or scaring it away.

Thanks for writing everybody. Although I am happy to answer your questions, I am really more interested in hearing your thoughts about science, nature and fascinating animals. Please come on my Seymour Science blog regularly and use "comments" to tell me what you are discovering as you are reading here.

I am looking forward to meeting you all very soon!

READERS: Are you wondering how to add your own "comment" to this blog? Click here for exact directions on how to add a comment so you can become one of our Seymour Science writers! We also want you to be safe and not share too much information when you write on this blog, so please take a minute to read about how to stay safe on the Internet. We love to hear from you, so give "comments" a try! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Sharks, Author Study, Kids Write, Dolphins, Seymour Simon, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 1, 2012

The Development Studies Center posted an extensive, new interview with Seymour Simon this week. Educators will enjoy reading it, and we think it will be very helpful for students doing Author Studies, as well.

Interviewer Jennie McDonald really did her homework, and she asked Seymour questions that no one had ever asked him before. The result is an interview in which you learn a lot about Mr. Simon, from how he learned to read, to how he decides what to put in and what to leave out of a book, to the story of a childhood experience like A Night at the Museum!

Click here to read for yourself. And then click "Comments" below and tell us what you think!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Author Study, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 27, 2012

Thank you, Center Moriches students, for all your thank you notes and great comments after my visit this week. I loved meeting you all, too.

Makayla, Claire K., Richie and the kids in Room 30 all wrote to ask the same question, so I thought I would answer it here. The question is: WHAT IS MY FAVORITE OF ALL THE BOOKS THAT I HAVE WRITTEN?

I have written so many books that I am not sure of the exact count….but I know it is getting close to 300! I can never say which is my favorite book - it is like a parent picking his favorite child. If I say which one is my favorite, all the other books will be mad at me!

Actually, whatever book I am working on at the moment is my "favorite," because I get caught up in how fascinating each topic is. I’ve just finished a book on CORAL REEFS, and I learned so much about these busy "cities under the sea" - you would be amazed at the diversity of life that thrives in a coral reef. So at the moment, that is my "favorite book."

If you click on "play" in this photograph, you can see a little bit of video of all the living creatures in a coral reef. Isn’t it magnificent?

Makayla added a few other questions which I will answer for you here, too.

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?  Since I was a kid I have had two favorite colors, and they are both the colors of nature. One is almost indescribable - the warm, pumpkin-like, mix of orange colors that you see in autumn. My other favorite color is the deep purple that you sometimes see in sunset clouds.

2. DO YOU HAVE ANY CHILDREN?  My two sons are both grown - one is a television director, and one is a college professor, in Computer Sciences. My stepdaughter is still in college, studying Literature and History. And I have four grandchildren whom I try to visit as often as I can.

3. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BE AN AUTHOR?  I read a book called THE SEA AROUND US, by Rachel Carson. She is a wonderful writer, I absolutely loved the book, and by the time I finished it, I had realized that I wanted to write about the natural world. I started writing for children because that is where my area of expertise was - I was a middle school science teacher for many years.

Thank you to all the book lovers at Clayton Huey Elementary School for your very warm welcome. I loved your caution to "Drive Safely!" when I left. What a warm, caring group of students and teachers. Keep reading, and please click on "Comments" and write to me any time to tell me what you are reading and thinking about.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Becoming a writer, School Visits, Coral Reefs, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 15, 2011

Look at this great image from Vienna, in Austria. My stepdaughter, Jules, who is a college student studying abroad this semester, sent it with this note:

"At the Natural History museum in Vienna (a converted Hapsburg Palace) they had scientific stained glass! Of course, I thought of you." 

Thanks, Jules. I love it! Look at the replica of the sea anemone, the delicate glass sculpture with many tendrils, like a flower, hanging from the ceiling in front of the window. Isn’t it just magnificent?

I decided to learn more about this museum, and discovered that it is the third-largest natural history museum in the world, after New York’s American Museum of Natural History and London’s British Museum. I love natural history museums, probably because when I was a teenager, I was the President of the U.S. Junior Astronomy Club, which had its office in the basement of the American Museum of Natural History. I spent many hours there, wandering through the exhibits, and I’ve loved natural history museums ever since.

One of the main attractions of Vienna’s Natural History Museum is their newly just-opened, modernized dinosaur hall. And I discovered that they have made a very exciting CGI animated movie that includes a life-sized animated model of an Allosaurus and a recreation of the giant asteroid impact that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs! The film is on YouTube and I’ve put a link to it here because I think my readers will like it as much as I do. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Photo: Jules Kelly

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Seymour Simon, Video, DInosaurs   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 11, 2011

A student named Makayla M. wrote today and asked: 

"Do you think that macaroni penguins are weird or cool? What is your favorite animal in the world?


I think all penguins are cool, don’t you? Macaroni Penguins are so unusual, with those magnificent, bright-colored feathers on their heads. You can probably find my book PENGUINS in your school library, and you’ll find a page in there that tells you how the Macaroni penguin got its name. (Hint: It has nothing to do with pasta.)

I can’t tell you my favorite animal because then the other animals would attack me!


(Photo from PENGUINS, by Seymour Simon. CollinsSmithsonian Books, 2007) 


Note to students Using the "ASK SEYMOUR SIMON" button: Please take your time and be sure that you enter your email address correctly. If it is misspelled, I can’t reply to you, so you never get an answer to your question. Type your email in, and then check your work! Thanks.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Kids Write, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 22, 2011



Last year was the 40th anniversary of the founding of Earth Day. Many special events happened on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and Seymour Simon was invited to speak to the crowd about what was then his new book, GLOBAL WARMING. The speech is a classic statement of his beliefs about teaching, and our roles, both collectively and individually, as shipmates on planet Earth. We are reprinting it here today as part of our Earth Day commemoration. If it moves you, please click the yellow "Share/Send page" button at the top of this page.

There is a Native American proverb that powers and informs the reasons and ideals of our approach to the problems of climate change and global warming. The proverb is one you may have seen before:


Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents;

it was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors;

we borrow it from our Children.


I was a teacher in the New York City School System for nearly 25 years. I’ve written over 250 books for children about animals and the wonders of Earth and Space. Each year, I speak to thousands and thousands of children in schools in all parts of the country, in the South to the North, from East to West. I tell them about butterflies and polar bears, I talk to them about lightning and tornadoes; I take them on a journey from Earth to the ends of the universe using the words and images in my books. I’ve written books about nearly every science and nature subject you can imagine.

The Earth is so big and the subject is so vast, that you might think that kids get overwhelmed. "What does all this mean to me?" you might think that they respond. Well, you might be surprised at what they really do say. Here’s what many of them ask me: "Where do I fit in? What’s my place in the universe? What is it all about? And what about me?"

That’s what inspired me to write my book GLOBAL WARMING. This is a book for kids and their families. It tells what’s happening in the world of climate change and it tells how those changes affect all of us. Then the book tells what kids and their families might do to make changes in their own and their family’s lives that affect everybody on Earth.

Knowledge empowers people with our most powerful tool: The ability to think and decide. There is no power for change greater than a child discovering what he or she cares about.

Seymour Simon

April 22, 2010 / Washington, DC 

What are you doing this Earth Month to contribute to the global effort to pledge a Billion Acts of Green? Click on "Comments," at the bottom of this story, and tell me what you are doing. We will continue to accept your ideas through Thursday, April 28. Then, on Friday 4/29, we will publish all your comments in one big article, to honor each writer’s promise to protect our planet, and inspire other readers to do the same.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(13) Comments  •   Labels: Global Warming, Teachers and Librarians, Seymour Simon, Earth, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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