News-O-Matic received its 1 millionth vote this week! What does that mean? Personally, it means triumph!
Six years ago, News-O-Matic was only a seed of an idea. Back then, I dreamt of creating a daily news source for young readers, which not only relayed current events but also educated while explaining the facts in an age-appropriate way.
As the mother of young and curious children, I found myself translating the news my children were exposed to daily. I looked around for resources they could read on their own, but none existed. So, I decided to create it. I had no doubt children wanted to be informed global citizens, and in my view, they deserve to be!
Well aware that children’s attention span is fleeting, I knew I had to deliver content in a fun and engaging manner. My goal and personal challenge was to motivate kids to become habitual current event readers. I also wanted to give them a voice to express their views and ask questions. But how? At the time, my only options were print, broadcast, or webcast, none of which were ideal. Smartphones were still not in the hands of young readers. And then my answer was launched: the tablet!
Roughly nine months after assembling an amazing team, the News-O-Matic app was ‘born’. And I could not have imaged the impact it would have!
News-O-Matic is used daily by thousands of elementary and middle-school students in classrooms across America and abroad. Teachers love all the educational tools, which include choosing students’ reading levels and individually assessing their reading and comprehension. News-O-Matic is bilingual (English and Spanish), and it is used in social studies, ELA, ELL, Special Ed, and even math instruction.
Teachers are happily surprised with the News-O-Matic impact on their students. Just see the email I received yesterday from Dawn Vonder-Hoya, a 5th grade teacher at Etheride Elementary School in Texas:
“They [the students] beg me to read it! Right now they are reading it when they complete their work, in the morning while waiting for class to start… that is the first thing they want to do anytime they have free time! I can’t believe they actually like answering the questions! They do it even when I don’t tell them to. It truly is an amazing app for kids!”
News-O-Matic is also read in thousands of homes worldwide. Appreciative parents approach me often to say how News-O-Matic has positively impacted family mealtime conversations. A favorite is when parents tell me they now have to brush up on the news in order to keep up with their children’s comments! Today at my daughter’s drop-off a parent told me: “Julia came home the other day and wanted to know if I was happy a woman was elected president in Croatia… I had to wipe the shocked look off my face and ask her to tell me about it — to which she responded: “Mommy, don’t you read the news?”
Most importantly, children from 148 countries are using their voices to tell Russell Kahn, our Editor-in-Chief, how News-O-Matic has impacted their understanding and love of the news:
Today, our readers interact with News-O-Matic through article ratings, drawings, and letters to the editors more than 20,000 times per week!
All in all, I think I am the one who is mostly impacted! Every time a News-O-Matic reader votes for an article, draws a picture, or asks a question, I feel l succeeded in my mission of opening a door to the world.
Surpassing one million votes is the best way to start a New Year!
By Lillian Stern, co-founder