Short stuff: news for kids

A look at what's making headlines - from peanut butter stats to the world's smallest horse.

Creamy or chunky?

"Spread" the word: Peanut butter is the leading use of peanuts in the United States.

Although it's almost over, March has been National Peanut Month, and it's not too late to celebrate. So grab a spoon and a jar of peanut butter – and let's dig into some peanut butter facts:

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• It takes roughly 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.

• Peanut butter is consumed in about 89 percent of US households.

• The world's largest peanut butter factory – Jif, in Lexington, Ky. – churns out 250,000 jars of the tasty treat every day.

• The average child will eat 1,500 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates high school.

• Women and children prefer creamy, while most men opt for chunky, according to the National Peanut Board. (What's your favorite kind?)

Not just any hat

With only 236 different words, it became one of the most popular children's books ever. Earlier this month, Dr. Seuss's "The Cat in the Hat" celebrated its 50th birthday.

Seuss wrote the book, which was first published in 1957, because he felt there should be more entertaining material for beginning readers. He nailed it.

Many book critics have also hailed the work from a literary standpoint. That's because it simultaneously maintains a strict triple meter, keeps to simple vocabulary, and tells a fun tale.

The author, whose real name was Ted Geisel, wrote and illustrated 44 children's books, including "Green Eggs and Ham" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

World music

When Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou makes music, the world listens – literally!

The musician has traveled to more than a dozen countries, introducing children to music and musical instruments – from the panpipe, a wind instrument, to South African shekeres and Latin American güiros, both of which are percussion instruments, often made from hollowed-out gourds.

She says music is a universal language that brings people together.

While Daria calls much of what she plays for children "free-form folk music," she says many children around the world listen to similar music as American kids do.

"They like hip-hop," she says.

For musical activities, kids can visit her website at www.dariamusic.com.

Tiny horse

At just a bit over 17 inches tall, this horse is more inclined to walk under fences than jump them – and that's exactly what she does.

Earlier this month, Thumbelina, who lives on a farm in St. Louis, became the smallest horse ever recorded by Guinness World Records.

When a Guinness official came from London to certify the record, a photograph was taken of Thumbelina and the world's largest living horse, Radar, a Belgium draft horse from Texas standing 6 feet, 7 inches tall. That's about 40 times larger than Thumbelina! She wasn't intimidated, however.

"I got the impression that Thumbelina wasn't so keen on sharing the limelight with the tallest horse at all," said Michael Whitty, of Guinness's Picture Media.

The picture will appear in the 2008 "World Records" book, which will be released this fall.

Speak out

Kids in England are saying "Oui!" to learning new languages. (That's French for "Yes!")

Earlier this month, the BBC reported that primary school students will soon be taught foreign languages starting at age 7. These are the ages when children in other parts of Europe start learning a second language:

France: 5 years old. Austria, Belgium, and Sweden: 6 years old. Italy: between 6 and 7 years old. Germany: between 6 and 8 years old. Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands: 8 years old. Denmark: 9 years old. Finland: 10 years old.

In the US, many kids start learning foreign languages at age trece. (That's 13 in Spanish.)

Compiled from wire reports and websites by Steven Ellis.

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