Journalism 101: Kids’ Books About Reporters and the Role of the Press
by Devon A. Corneal
It’s difficult to turn on the television or open a newspaper these days without seeing a discussion of the free press in the United States. So there’s no better time to talk to our children about the veracity of the press, the role of reporters in fact-finding, and how American democracy has been shaped by the Fourth Estate. We’ve found a few books that will not only help kids understand the goals and ideals of good journalism, but also discover the intrepid reporters who have made significant contributions to the development of modern reporting. Who knows? Maybe they’ll inspire your young reader to grab a notebook and a pencil and set out to uncover a story of their own.
The Daring Nellie Bly: America’s Star Reporter
Women had no place in journalism in the late 1800s, but that didn’t stop Nellie Bly. She began her extraordinary career by having herself committed to an asylum to expose the horrific conditions there and later reported from the front lines of World War I, circumnavigated the globe in 72 days, and worked to shed light on corruption and the abuse of power. Early readers will love the pictures and manageable text of The Daring Nellie Bly.
(Ages 5 - 8)
Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly
Middle grade readers can dive into the more detailed and complex Ten Days a Madwoman to learn about the first female investigative reporter, Nellie Bly, and why she served as a role model for all the women reporters who followed. The perfect pick for Nellie Bly enthusiasts who’ve graduated to chapter books.
Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told
Much like Nellie Bly, Ida B. Wells became a journalist in the late 1800s, using her voice to speak out for civil rights and equality and against discrimination. Born a slave, Wells later became a reporter, a suffragette, an activist, and a legend.
(Ages 4 - 8)
12 Great Moments That Changed Newspaper History
If you have questions about the importance of a free press, this book shows how the media has covered political scandals, industry revolutions, sports, war, the economy, and social ills. From the American Revolution to Watergate to the Pentagon Papers, watch history come to life in the pages of newspapers across the decades.
(Ages 8 - 12)
Jacob Riis: Reporter and Reformer
Once they’ve tackled the titles above, invite your advanced tween (or teen) reader to try this one. In the late 19th century, a young Dane by the name of Jacob Riis emigrated to the United States. Riis became a police reporter and eventually wrote How the Other Half Lives, an investigation of the shocking poverty of New York’s tenements. His work on corruption and poverty helped transform the city and started him on a lifelong quest to eliminate inequality.
Reporters in Fiction:
After you’ve educated your children’s minds, why not throw in books about a few fictional reporters just for fun? Here are some ideas:
Judy Moody and Friends: Amy Namey in Ace Reporter
Amy Namey and Judy Moody won’t let boring Frog Neck Lake stop them from making news. Will they uncover the mystery of the Great Virginia Sea Serpent and break the story of the year? Or end up laughingstocks? Only one way to find out — read along!
(Ages 4 - 6)
Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter
This middle grade story of an intrepid young reporter in the 1920s is equal parts fun, history, and mystery. Tag along as Isabel Feeney investigates a murder and discovers just how tough the newspaper business can be.
(Ages 10 - 12)
Darnell Rock Reporting
Good journalists do more than report on the news — they can also make a difference in people’s lives. Darnell Rock is about to find out what that feels like as the newest member of the Oakdale Gazette. He may also discover that the life he changes most will be his own.
(Ages 8 - 12)
Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Late-Breaking News!
Of course Fancy Nancy, the girl who loves words, would end up becoming a reporter for her third-grade newspaper. She’s about to learn, however, that some things might not belong in the press.
(Ages 6 - 10)