Who would you expect to ask this question, “Don’t ANY of you know what’s going ON!?
A reporter or editor, a city official, someone who registers voters, a teacher, a parent, a sports fan or a teacher…
On October 1, Tiffany Farrell in the comic strip, “Luann,” asked that question of a group of children in an after-school program. Tiffany actually knows little about what is going on in her community; she just wonders why the children haven’t heard about her accomplishments as a model, movie star and all-round celebrity.
The children’s answers to “What’s going on?” makes me laugh because they know nothing about Tiffany’s fame. One boy said, “My mom’s having twins.” Another said, “My dad got laid off.” The girls said, “My cat died,” and “My Nana broke her nose.” The children speak of important events in their daily lives and make important points about what makes news. Audience. Time and place.
If you compare front pages, sports stories and opinion pages in different newspapers over time, you will learn what concerns the community served by the newspapers. For example, a home team after a win or defeat gets top billing but no mention in another state’s newspaper. Audience. Time and place.
Community newspapers focus on where their readers live and what shapes their lives. The Reading Rainbow book, The Furry News
by Loreen Leady, is a children’s book about a community of animals that create their own newspaper. The book invites the children who read it to discover what is happening in their communities, write their own stories and create their own newspapers.
What do you think makes news? Come up with your list. Then read through sources, such as the following, and apply the criteria to a story or series of news stories: 1) Conflict, 2) timing, 3) significance, 4) proximity, 5) prominence and 6) human interest.
by Dav Pilkey is another book about newspapers often read with teachers. You may add others to the list of books below. As you read the books, discuss the essential questions: What is news? What and who make news? What makes news different from hearsay or gossip? Where and how do I get news? What’s going on today that affects me, my community and state, the nation and the world?
A contributor to a children’s book listserv offered the following list of children’s literature about news and information (or misinformation).
*Chicken Licken* (many versions)
The *Aminal* by Lorna and Lecia Balian
*The rumor* by Monique Félix
*A sack full of feathers* by Debby Waldman
*Miss Fox's class gets it wrong* by Eileen Spinelli
*Snarlyhissopus* by Alan MacDonald
*Gerald McBoing Boing* by Dr. Seuss
*Dear Bunny* by Michaela Morgan
*Giants Beware* by Jorge Aguirre
*The True Meaning of Smekday* by Adam Rex
*Breaking into Print: Before and After the Invention of the Printing Press* by Stephen Krensky
*Media Meltdown* by Liam O'Donnell
*The Pushcart War* by Jean Merrill
*Juicy gossip* by Erin Downing
*The Magician's Bird: A Tuckernuck Mystery* by Emily Ecton
Who creates the news?
**The Furry News: How to Make a Newspaper *by Loreen Leedy
*Arthur's TV Troubles *by Marc Brown
Fact vs. Opinion
**Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday *by Judith Viorst
Advertising: Distinguishing between Fact and Opinion by Neal Bernards
Evidence, Sources, Perspective
**Little Red Riding Hood *(many versions)
*Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School *by MarkTeague
*The Blind Man and the Elephant *(many versions)
*The True Story of the Three Little Pigs *by Jon Sciezska
*Duck, Rabbit *by Amy Rosenthal
*Catch a Tiger by the Toe* by Ellen Levine
**The Greatest Liar on Earth *by Mark Greenwood
*The Great Moon Hoax *by Stephen Krensky
*Queen of the Falls *by Chris Van Allsburg
Freedom of speech/press
*The Trouble with Mothers* by Margery Facklam
*Nothing but the Truth* by Avi
*The Other Side of Truth* by Beverley Naidoo
Books about Newspapers in General
**The Landry News* by Andrew Clements
*Dear Know-it-All* series by Rachel Wise
*Adam Canfield of the Slash* by Michael Winerip
*Ivy + Bean: no news is good news by *Annie Barrows
*The Daring Nellie Bly: America's Star Reporter* by Bonnie Christensen
*The Shaggy Gully Times* by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
*The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes: the Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword* by Anne Mazer
*News for Dogs* by Lois Duncan
*The truth about Truman School* by Dori Hillestad Butler
*Some Good News* by Cynthia Rylant
*Coyote School News* by Joan Sandin
*Girl Reporter Blows Lid Off Town!* by Linda Ellerbee
*The last newspaper boy in America* by Sue Corbett
*Write on, Callie Jones* by Naomi Zucker
*Freddie and the Bean Home News* by Walter Brooks
*Peeled* by Joan Bauer
- Do you have preferred source of news and information? Why do you prefer it?
- Do you have a favorite poem, song or work of art derived from or based on news? Describe
- Do you have another children’s book to recommend?
Written by Sandra Cook, October 3, 2013
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