Guest post by Ross Brenneman
Weekly Reader is kaput. A staple of classrooms that started in 1928, Weekly Reader compiled news stories and educational pieces into a print magazine tailored toward students from Pre-K to 10th grade. Scholastic Inc. bought Weekly Reader this past February from the Reader's Digest Association. (For the full business rundown, check out my colleague Jason Tomassini's Marketplace K-12 post. Synergy!)
The end of Weekly Reader, as well as its Current Events, a newsmagazine geared toward young teens, doesn't mean students will be left in the dust; Scholastic News will be continuing those responsibilities in its own print and digital products. But even though Scholastic will probably make good use of the Reader's, um, readership, this is the kind of situation that could lead many to lament, "It just isn't the same."
While Weekly Reader wasn't a lesson plan, it laid out concepts in simple terms and covered many essential curricular topics. On presidential elections, for instance, it offered resources that explained to first graders information about the president, and to high schoolers about the Electoral College. (Many adults are still working through that one.) It might not have been the only way to deliver information to school children, but Weekly Reader proved a reliable resource that seemed to have the process down to a science.
What, then, will take the magazine's place? And, more broadly, how do students as young as five years old receive news? There's the aforementioned Scholastic News. There's "Nick News," the long-running Nickelodeon TV program hosted by Linda Ellerbee. And Time for Kids is still going strong. But bringing news into the classroom in a fun, engaging, and informative way can undoubtedly be tricky. (My first memorable foray into grown-up news was watching coverage of the 1992 presidential debates, and thinking the most interesting part was that the candidates got to sit on stools. This is the mind of a first-grader.)
What do you think, educators? What are the best resources for delivering news in the classroom? Your thoughts, and any reminiscing about Weekly Reader, are welcome in the comments.