My news consumption has been so thoroughly digital for years that I honestly never expected to subscribe to home delivery of The New York Times again. But two years ago the paper started running a special, print-only section for kids on the last Sunday of each month. My daughter happened to come across a few of the installments here and there and pleaded with us to subscribe. Since the cost of Sunday-only home delivery is only nominally more expensive than a digital subscription, we relented.
I’m not particularly happy about the resulting stacks of newsprint in the house, but I have to admit, the sight of my kids poring over the paper makes it worthwhile. It reminded me of my own youth, when I would read The Washington Post’s Sunday comics section cover to cover. It always bewildered me that The Times refused to run a comics section; any excuse to get kids exposed to newspaper consumption seems like an essential path to future customers. (For a while, The New York Times Magazine ran a “Funny Pages”” feature, which was like Sunday comics for people too arrogant to read comics; I hated it.)
This is not a comics section though. It is, appropriately, a newspaper within a newspaper for younger readers:
…The special section is a kid-centric version of The Times and mimics regular sections in the paper, including sports, national news, food and arts. Need career advice from an animator or a recipe for the best homemade slime? This package has you covered.
This is both unsurprising, because that is exactly what you would expect from a section officially titled The New York Times for Kids, and surprising, because the paper has so effectively dispelled its traditional buttoned-up (some would say stuffy) airs in order to create something genuinely fascinating to the younger set. The stuff you find between its pages is completely unassuming, wittily written, graphically arresting, and thoroughly kid-centric in its worldview. This week’s edition is the humor issue and my daughter pronounced it “Really funny.” The ol’ Gray Lady has some tricks left in her yet, and one of them seems to be knowing that a kid’s heart leads to a parent’s wallet.