Karen Fratti
May 14, 2017 12:40 pm
The New York Times

If you were flipping through the Sunday New York Times this weekend and came across a hard-hitting story about how to make homemade slime, no, you’re not just hungover. This week, there was a special kids-only section in The New York Times that was written by and for kids. And you know what? It might be even better than the regular paper (or at least a healthy break from the ins and outs of American politics).

The section was the brainchild of Caitlin Roper, special projects editor at The New York Times Magazine, and Aaron Retica, a senior staff editor for the Opinion section. But editors knew they couldn’t create a kids-only section alone. To make it particularly awesome, they’d need some actual kids to take part. Luckily, one of their friends, Matthew Kemler, is a fourth grade teacher at P.S. 92 in Corona, Queens, and he invited The Times editors to come in and think through the section with his students.

They held a special brainstorming session, where the students pitched stories on immigration, healthcare, the environment, and yes, homemade slime. Some kids wrote the pieces, while professional writers took over the rest, writing in a kid-friendly voice. The final product is a really good read. We highly recommend the advice column about “How To Win A Fight With Your Parents.”

Not only did they pitch stories, the students also learned how to write the news (it’s different!) and how to read the news, which is a skill that a lot of adults could probably use a refresher course in, too. Retica said:

The school in Corona has a lot of immigrant children, too, and they were excited to pitch their personal stories. Retica asked the students if they had an aunt (or relative) in Queens who was from a different country. Hands went up and a feature story was born. Another student, 9-year-old Kelen Romero, wrote a story about a stomach problem and her long wait in the emergency room. “We need more doctors and nurses,” she concluded.

Another student was concerned about the environment: “One solution to animal extinction is eating more vegetables and beans,” Raul Alvarez, 10 years old, wrote.

Not only was it a cool learning experience, it’s also so important that children learn their input is valid. Their perspective is pretty necessary. Even NPR just launched a new “for kids” podcast, proving that what the world needs right now is more ways for kids to tell their stories. All of the issues that grown-ups are worried about these days? Kids are affected by them, too, and having a way to talk them through is essential.  If they’re learning about journalism and how to tell stories in the meantime, all the better.

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