20 March 2013

Writing for children

Today's children have access to far more print magazines than children brought up in the '60s. However, when it comes to quality, I am skeptical about the former. I am sure that people who have read children's magazines (or supplements) such as Illustrated Weekly's Young Folks League, Kannan (a very popular children's magazine in Tamil) or Chandamama would endorse my point of view.  Let me present a few examples from yesterday's edition of `Young World', published by the newspaper `THE HINDU', to illustrate my point of view.

1. If you read this write-up, the very first sentence in the water buffalo's letter to Aristotle is not structured in the best way: "I read the letters written about massive and powerful animals with interest" is better than "I read with interest the letters written about massive and powerful animals". In his reply, Aristotle says "...You are a mean-looking heavy fellow ..." When we write for children, terms such as `mean-looking' should be avoided. I think that whatever we write for children should not nurture unfounded assumptions, skewed notions and negative attitudes. I don't understand the logic behind editorial sections of newspapers such as `THE HINDU'.

2. As usual, HeyMath section carries grammatical mistakes ("A group of islands are connected together ..." in `Isolated Islands) and conceptual ambiguities ("Each row and column is a math equation" instead of "Each row or column should contain numbers which form an equation"). I don't think that we can teach mathematics at the cost of conceptual clarity and grammatically correct language. I think that newspaper and magazine publishers should consider quality of content in their advertisements to be more important than revenue from advertising. This applies to electronic media developers as well.

Writing for children is not simply filling space with alphabets and numbers, however colourful they may be. It should make sense.

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.