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Joel BelzVoices Joel Belz

Nose for news

At WORLD, we know even kids crave a good news source

Nose for news

Do you remember the name of the very first daily newspaper you got serious about reading? Or what prompted that behavior in the first place?

The people who publish newspapers might like to hear from you. Their ability to convert young readers into loyal customers has hit hard, hard times.

For me, it was The Des Moines Register that first hooked me with a daily exposure to the fascinating size, variety, and color of God’s great world—although it was certainly my parents who taught me to think of it all in that God-centered way. From the Register, I graduated to The Wall Street Journal. Both Dad and Mom read it faithfully, and I was intrigued that a newspaper with no pictures could so unfailingly hold their interest.

Another newspaper, though, has shaped my life more permanently. It was called My Weekly Reader, and although it wasn’t in the same journalistic league with the Register and the Journal, its circulation (over 4 million at its peak) easily topped both of them. My Weekly Reader was distributed through schools across America, virtually free to the children and their parents. Something like 90 percent of all American adults remember My Weekly Reader, and for almost all of them, it’s a pleasant memory. World news, written for kids.

Our goal is to be editorially ready with solid world news from a Biblical mindset.

It was exactly such a memory in 1981 that prompted me to propose to the organization where I was working that we create a weekly newspaper for Christian children. World news, written for kids—but with an important distinctive. This newspaper would come from a Biblical perspective. We could circulate it, I suggested, through Christian schools, through home schools, and among other Christian families who might be interested.

Our first edition (called It’s God’s World) appeared as the 1981 school year opened. Our lead story highlighted the strike of the air traffic controllers and President Ronald Reagan’s firm response. For that story, as for hundreds in the issues that followed, we sought to pursue fascinating coverage of current events, written on an age-appropriate level, and always with fitting Biblical truth in mind. Soon we were doing five different graded editions, and circulation soared to over 250,000 a week.

Two significant events followed. Parents of our young readers more and more frequently came back to us, saying: “We like this. We read this with our kids. When are you going to do an edition for adults?” Wisely or not, we listened. WORLD magazine appeared in 1986—a child of our children’s ministry. No, the God’s World News papers are not a junior version of WORLD. WORLD is actually, and historically, a senior version of the kids’ papers! Think it through, and you’ll appreciate the difference.

The second significant event was the advent of the internet. Arriving through the 1990s—and then with a vengeance through the 2000s—digital publishing threatened the print media industry everywhere. Remember Weekly Reader’s circulation of over 4 million? Today, Weekly Reader is no longer in business, having been bought by another company and then closed down.

But God’s World News, in God’s good providence, remains very much in business! We publish at three levels: Early readers will find God’s Big WORLD a good fit, elementary students will enjoy WORLDkids, and young teens will appreciate WORLDteen. Stories vary among the three levels, covering progressively more detailed topics and concepts, but not the sort of “adult” news topics that parents or teachers would have to censor.

Of critical importance is the fact that each of the levels includes its own bimonthly print magazine, its own interactive website, and its own mobile app. Our goal is to be editorially ready with solid world news from a Biblical mindset, as well as with a technological package that will challenge and involve tens of thousands of inquiring minds.

What’s your goal? Maybe you can think of a child, a family, or even a school classroom that would benefit from your gift invested on their behalf. We will welcome your involvement.