muharrem ner/iStock.Thanks to the never dull election year of 2008, my kids have become interested in watching the news. My fifth grader especially likes reading the newspaper and watching various news shows with me (with the too gory quickly turned off by me). His new found interest in the news made it easier for him when his teacher assigned his first monthly current events presentation. He's actually enjoyed finding news to report, like this NPR story on how bacteria in your stomach might actually help you fight obesity.
If your kids love news - and even if they don't - here are three web sites that can help you share the news with your tweens:
Tween Tribune(http://TweenTribune.com/) Each week, former newspaper designer Alan Jacobson watched his 10-year-old daughter, Sophie, write a report on a current topic for her science class. Sophie relied on a science news site for kids that was updated with just one or two articles a week with stories on subjects like fuzzy mold and household cleaners. But she soon became bored by these stories, and Alan couldn't blame her. So he created TweenTribune.com where he posts 10 age-appropriate stories daily that, he says, kids will find compelling, relevant, and useful. He lets kids post comments, but he reviews them to make sure they don't compromise their safety. Kids can even send in news stories. Sure to keep the interest of even the most fidgety tween, each story is tagged with video and/or linked to all stories that contain video. If your tween is facing down another current events project, start at Tween Tribune.
Uncle Jay Explains the News (http://unclejayexplains.com) If your kids are too young for Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's irreverent take on the news, here's a fun alternative. Created by Cincinnati deejay Jay Gilbert, these weekly videos on the news "little minds understand big news stories." His hilarious spoofs on the news appeared on a pre-dawn news program a decade ago, and even won an Emmy. Two years ago, he decided to revive them for the Net. Uncle Jay Explains the Newsisn't necessarily written for kids, but my almost 12-year-old son understands quite a few of the jokes. I recommend that you screen each video, which post on Mondays, before you share them with your little news junkie. But so far, I haven't witnessed any foul language or wardrobe malfunctions, just lots of funny stuff.
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee (http://www.nick.com/nicknews/) This is the companion web site to the popular TV show on Nickelodeon which has featured journalist and cancer survivor, Linda Ellerbee, since the early '90's. On the site, you'll find a run-down of some of the week's biggest news as seen through Nickelodeon's TV-Y filter. This week's stories include the war in the Gaza strip, Roland Burris' appointment (or un-appointment) to the Illinois Senate seat and the Obama girls' first day of school. Each story - written, not video, which seems odd for a TV's web site -- includes historical background where applicable and often asks kids to make up their own minds about the news. Be forewarned: There are message boards, in case you don't let your kids partake. Also, there are plenty of ads for Nick's programs.
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