HALALA

South African Children's Newspaper: To Gets Kids Reading

News For Kids offers a whole new way for children to access the media.

16/11/2017 09:31 SAST | Updated 16/11/2017 09:31 SAST
Marianne Schwankhart

A pioneering newspaper made specifically for children in South Africa is getting children reading again... but what exactly is "News For Kids"?

The publication, edited by former ReadRight editor Leizl Eykelhof, goes out once every two weeks to 20 schools in Soweto, in an effort to "improve literacy, children's general knowledge and their relationship with the media", Eykelhof says.

Content in the newspaper ranges from animal stories to art and technology to science.

"We've found since the newspaper began that the children love sports stories, especially soccer. They also love animal stories and environmental issues, and anything to do with celebrities and fashion as well," she says.

Each edition has about nine or ten stories, and includes puzzles and fun games, Eykelhof explains, "but my mission is to get the kids to think about things. We often ask kids critical questions, like what they think about people who throw litter, in the hope that they develop the critical thinking skills that are important for their lives".

Creating content for children has been challenging, but the results speak for themselves. In a test conducted on 275 children who had been exposed to "News For Kids", the University of Johannesburg found that children exposed to the newspaper performed significantly better in their retention of science facts than students who hadn't been exposed to the publication.

"We think that teachers (and their literacy teaching practice) could greatly benefit from training that uses the NFK material in a purposeful way to improve and deepen teacher knowledge of reading literacy," Professor Elbie Henning, the South Africa Research Chair Professor of Educational Linguistics at the University of Johannesburg said.

The project is looking to expand, so if you're looking to support this pioneering initiative, speak to kids@dpa.com.

"It's really difficult to do this. English, for one, is not the children's first language. Adult social terms of reference are also really different, and the resources in these classroom are also completely different, so it's been quite a learning curve, but a very positive one," Eykelhof says.