As I’m sure we’ve all noticed, certain high-profile people have had a lot of negative things to say about journalists and the state of modern journalism. And while some of those certain high-profile people seem bound and determined to wave the importance of the free press off into the cornfield—to argue that We, The People should trust One Single Source as the Grand Arbiter of What Is Real And What Is Fake, just because—I will always, always feel far more comfortable when I have a wide array of voices and facts and references and citations and research and interviews and yes, even OPINIONS, at my fingertips.
To stay informed—to critically examine the information we’re presented with, to question it, look at it from multiple angles, poke and prod until we’re satisfied that it’s solid—is a vital part of basic citizenship, and for that, a free press is necessary. And so, of course, today I’m looking at a few children’s and teen books that focus on different forms of journalism. Because in order for our fourth estate to flourish, we’ll need to inspire and encourage more and more young people to enter the profession:
Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter Nellie Bly, by Deborah Noyes
Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told, by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Bonnie Christensen
What’s more inspiring and encouraging than stories about real people who used journalism to change the world? Nellie Bly’s work resulted in a huge overhaul of mental health facilities and treatments in the late 1800s, and Ida B. Wells’ work documented the truth about lynching during the same era. Both women used journalism to shine a spotlight onto some of the darkest aspects of American culture in their time—through their investigative work, they forced America to think, rather than just assume.
Shame the Stars, by Guadalupe García McCall
Romeo and Juliet, set in Texas during the Mexican Revolution. The Romeo character comes from a wealthy family that is friendly with the local authorities, the Juliet character’s family publishes a paper that is considered seditious by those same local authorities. Starred review, and it sounds rich and layered and meaty and is the sort of historical that feels supremely relevant to the present day. In other words, a story that is ALL THE GOOD THINGS.
On the lighter side (because light is important, too):Since You Asked…, by Maurene Goo
The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions), by Amy Spalding
While Kirkus wasn’t hugely enthusiastic about either of these, I’ve seen them praised elsewhere—and they both sound FUN. The first is about a copy editor whose copy-snark accidentally makes it into the finished paper, resulting in SCHOOLWIDE INFAMY for the main character, but also a monthly column; the second is a romance between a super-driven high school newspaper editor and the new guy in school…who happens to work for her competitor.
And finally, because no list about journalists would be complete without her:
Teenage Lois Lane! That is all.
Other recommendations? I’m all ears!
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom and The Backlist, is currently serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project committee, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.