Writing for Kids
Scholastic News Editor shares tricks of the trade with Kid Reporter
Sitting in her fourth-floor office at Scholastic's New York headquarters, Dara Sharif is surrounded by books and newspapers. A huge poster of the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone hangs on the wall. Her desk is piled with papers. There is a path cleared to the phone and the computer screen, which are two of her links to the news world.
Sharif is the Editor of Scholastic News Edition 5/6, and she's always on the lookout for news important to kids in the fifth and sixth grades. She has a TV in her office to keep track of breaking news, and she reads newspapers like the New York Times, Daily News, and USA Today.
Her job is a lot like being an editor at any magazine. She rewrites stories so that kids can understand important and sometimes difficult concepts, and she checks facts, grammar, and spelling to make sure the article is perfect. She also writes headlines for stories and captions for pictures.
The only difference is that her audience is much younger than the typical magazine. She says the job can be a challenge, but her experience as a news-obsessed kid helps her.
"I try to remember who I was and what I was like and what I liked when I was 10 years old," she said of editing and writing for kids. "I think that's the most important thing."
Her love of journalism came at a young age, she told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps in a recent interview. She was born and raised in Westchester County, just north of New York City, and was surrounded by news.
"When I was a kid, my family always read newspapers and watched the news on TV," Sharif said. "Then at dinner they would always discuss what was seen on TV or read in the newspapers."
She attended New York University where she majored in journalism, and her first job after college was as a Newswoman with the Associated Press. The AP is an international news service that provides news stories for organizations around the globe.
Working for the AP taught her how to report and write quickly and the importance of accuracy and balance in a news story. That experience has come in handy at Scholastic.
Along with a staff of writers, editors, and designers, she gathers news for a national weekly magazine for kids. Sharif assigns the stories to be written to reporters and works with photo researchers and designers to choose the best pictures and layout for the magazine's pages. She edits the stories before they are put on the page with the pictures.
"Right now I'm editing a story about the Shinnecock Indian tribe on Long Island, who are on their way to getting federal recognition as being an actual, sovereign tribe," Sharif said.
And just as she would explain in a story in the magazine, Sharif defined the term sovereign during her interview with this reporter."Sovereign means the tribe can act like a government of its own," she said. "Just like the United States has a government, so does the tribe."
Writing and editing news for kids means explaining words and concepts that would not be necessary in an adult newspaper. That sounds like the perfect job for someone as interested in the news as Dara Sharif!More Tips from the Pros
For more tips from professional journalists, check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps Tips from the Pros page.
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NEWS FOR KIDS, BY KIDS
Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.