Luddite parents, rejoice! Sure, many of today's children are far more accustomed to sitting down with a screen than with a newspaper. But if anything is going to start little ones on a lifelong love affair with print, it's the special New York Times section just for kids. The newspaper has committed to publishing a new monthly section geared at children and, if Sunday's special preview is any indication, it's going to be total gold. Seems like a print subscription to the paper could be an excellent holiday gift this year...
The national "newspaper of record" dabbled in kid content back in May, publishing an experimental section chock-full of child-friendly articles on topics like how to design your own superhero, and how to "win an argument with your parents." Turns out that kids loved it, and the paper was soon inundated with thank you notes and requests for more content. So, under the direction of Caitlin Roper, special projects editor, the newspaper has announced the launch of a monthly, print-only kids' section starting in January 2018. And just to get everyone super-excited, the paper included a special preview in this past Sunday's edition.
Want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Take a look at some of these pictures from proud parents, as their children get all excited about good old-fashioned newspapers:
This new section won't be all fun, frothy how-to guides and cartoons. Recognizing that kids like learning, and that it's actually a good idea for them to know what's going on in the world, the paper will also tackle more complicated and sometimes-serious topics. "We're still working out the right balance of fun and real news, projects and stories by and about kids," Roper told Romper via email.
Sunday's section, for example, included a profile of a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, an explanation of DNA, and a 9-year-old's thoughts on Confederate statues. (Spoiler alert: she's got a simple and fantastic explanation of why they should come down.)
The section also included an amazing advice column, in which a kid's query about awkward social situations was answered both by Philip Galanes, an adult who writes regular advice in The New York Times' style section, and a 14-year-old named Harper Ediger. In response to the question, "I see on Instagram stories that two of my best friends were hanging out. It hurts my feelings that I wasn’t invited. How should I bring it up with them?" According to the publication, Harper wrote:
I won’t sugarcoat it: Feeling left out sucks. When you feel left out, consider that perhaps your friends felt you wouldn’t enjoy the activity they were doing, or they knew you were busy that night. Don’t assume your friends’ intentions.
Wise words, Harper. Kids with their own pressing social questions can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org for a response from a kid and an adult in a future edition.
And that's not all! LeBron James wrote about how he became a basketball player! There are crossword puzzles, and more! (Yes, I did just momentarily turn into a used car salesman. That's how strongly I feel about the power of print.)
And even though the original kids' section back in May came with a tongue-in-cheek editor's note warning, "This section should not be read by grown-ups," it offers plenty of gems for adults who want to read it through with their children, or take a fun perusal once the kids have gone to bed.
For example, consider Lamira Jackson:
In her own mini op-ed, as seen in the tweet above, the 9-year-old wrote:
I think it should be illegal to be vegan, because they can't be trusted — no eggs, no cheese and sometimes no butter? People may say they disagree, because it's a little mean, but the meat products taste good. Animal products are greasy goodness. There should be more meat eaters. There should be no vegans.
This is the kind of hard-hitting journalism I want to see more of.
Roper, who edited the section, told Romper, "The goal of the section was, and remains, to delight readers." And she's been heartened by the responses so far, saying:
The absolute best responses come from kid readers across the country. I love all of their photos reading the section, writing on it, taking it back to their rooms to read it. It's so amazing to see kids engage with the stories and with a section of the paper created just for them.
I remember being a kid, and reading The Washington Post on lazy weekend mornings — the smudge of ink on my fingers, the particular crinkling sound of a page turning, the excitement of falling into a fascinating article. It made me a more curious and interesting person. Print newspaper circulation may be dropping, but this seems like the perfect way to get children away from their screens, and into the magic of newspapers.
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