Planning a Birthday Party

Who knows what the Missouri secretary of state does?

What about the lieutenant governor?

How does the electoral college work in determining our president? What is redistricting and why do we do it?

Students (and adults who want to learn as well) can find the answers to those questions and more in a “Vote Missouri” series The Missourian will begin running in the Sept. 8-9 issue as part of its Newspaper In Education program, which offers customized educational material designed to meet Missouri’s core teaching standards.

Classroom subscriptions for The Missourian are available at no cost to area teachers thanks to the generosity of many local organizations, businesses and individuals who participate as partners in the program.

Teachers, if you haven’t signed up for the free program yet, it’s not too late. Go online to or look for an order form to arrive in your school mail this week.

New This Year

 The “Vote Missouri” series that will begin Sept. 8-9 will appear in the Weekend Missourian right up until the presidential election in November.

In addition to looking at the elected offices of secretary of state and lieutenant governor, the series will outline the work of governors, representatives and senators (both state and federal). Each segment will include some history on the position, as well as interesting facts about it.

In a presidential election year, like this one, the series is especially timely and can be a useful way for teachers (and parents) to engage their students in lessons about government and the political process.

“Anytime we can teach about what’s relevant, what’s in the news, it’s the ideal,” said Dawn Kitchell, The Missourian’s education services director who plans the content each year. “An election year is a great opportunity to teach readers – young and older – about more than just the names on the ballot, but the jobs those candidates are responsible for and the Vote Missouri series does just that.”

A second series, this one focused on artwork featured in the Missouri Capitol building, will begin in November.

“Missouri History Through the Art of Our Capitol,” as its name implies, will include seven features that tell state history through the artwork that hangs on the walls in the Capitol building. The features are written by Bob Priddy, a veteran Missouri Capitol reporter and co-author of “The Art of the Missouri Capitol: History in Canvas, Bronze and Stone.”

“The interesting thing about the Missouri Capitol,” said Kitchell, “is that when it was built, thanks to some miscalculations and special taxes, they had a $1 million surplus. The money had to be used on the building, so they recruited some of the most well-known artists of the day. The building is a treasury of stained glass, murals, carvings and statues portraying Missouri’s history, legends and cultural achievements.”

In addition to the features that will appear in The Missourian each weekend, there will be an audio component for readers to listen to online.

“Bob has interviewed family members of some of the artists whose work is in the Capitol, and we will post snippets online so kids can have a direct connection to the people who created the art,” said Kitchell.  

In January, The Missourian will participate in the annual Reading Across Missouri project and publish an eight-chapter serial story about the Missouri mule.

“Manny” is a Rodney Dangerfield-type character who thinks mules don’t get any respect. He will attempt to stamp out misconceptions and earn some respect for the vital roles mules have played in history.

The series, the fourth written by The Missourian’s own Chris Stuckenschneider and the ninth statewide read organized by the Missouri Press Foundation’s statewide Newspaper In Education program, will appear in newspapers all across Missouri.

A gardening series will be offered in the spring. The Missouri Press Association has partnered with the University of Missouri Extension to create this series that covers everything from starting a garden to pest management, composting and more.

Finally, two times this school year students will have the opportunity to earn a visit from each of the guest authors visiting Washington through writing contests. The first will kick off in September and will earn one student a school visit from Ann Malaspina, author of “Touch the Sky,” in October just before the Run to Read. Another chance to win a visit will come in January when students put pens to paper or fingers to computer keys to try to win a visit from author Kenneth Kraegel, who will be the guest speaker at Family Reading Night.

(More on those authors and events later.)

And, as it has for 10 years now, The Missourian each month offers kids the chance to win a free book by submitting a review on one of Newsbee’s Book Buzz Picks.

Other features will be woven throughout the year, Kitchell said, including features on the Constitution, Veterans Day, spelling and more.

Happy 10th Birthday, Newsbee!

This year marks the 10th birthday for The Missourian’s children’s book mascot, Newsbee, and his twice-monthly Book Buzz columns that offer children’s book recommendations and welcome reviews on those books from students.

Newsbee works with local sponsors to provide a set of his Book Buzz Picks each month to area students, and over 10 years’ time that has added up to more than 10,000 books being donated to over 40 schools.

In honor of that milestone, The Missourian is planning a Book Buzz celebration for Sunday, Sept. 30, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Washington Public Library.

Book Buzz creators Kitchell and Stuckenschneider have put together a 15-minute video, with the help of Evan McInnis, a Washington High School graduate, featuring birthday wishes from several of the children’s authors Newsbee has brought to town over the last 10 years — Marla Frazee, Loren Long, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Josh Schneider, Margi Preus . . .

“We thought rather than bringing in one author, we would bring back as many of our old friends as we could,” said Kitchell.

Annual Favorites

Newsbee’s annual Run to Read event, that offers a 5K run/walk and children’s fun run, returns Saturday, Oct. 13, with a new venue, new route and new features.

The run/walk will begin and end at the Washington Public Library, giving runners a new route to challenge them.

For walkers, their route will include block-by-block reading on enlarged, poster-size pages from the children’s book, “Touch the Sky.”

A July Book Buzz Pick, “Touch the Sky” tells the story of Alice Coachman, the Olympic high jumper who was the first African-American woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Following the run/walk, “Touch the Sky” author Ann Malaspina will give a presentation inside the library.

“We wanted to infuse even more literacy into the Run to Read,” Kitchell said. “So this year, in addition to giving free books and introducing an author, we’re kind of giving literacy legs.

Kitchell said they are excited to be sharing Malaspina’s inspirational Olympic story. “There are so many parallels in her book to the Games that just concluded,” she said. “Alice Coachman won her Olympic medal in England and, like American gymnast Gabby Douglas, was a pioneer for African-American athletes.”

Another children’s book author, Kenneth Kraegel, will be the guest speaker at Family Reading Night, set for Friday, March 1, at Washington Middle School. Fairy tales will be the theme, tying into Kraegel’s book, “King Arthur’s Very Great-Grandson.”

“Everyone loves the Washington Police Department’s popular skit on ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears,’ ” Kitchell said, noting their reading room at Family Reading Night is always popular.

“We decided to use the fairy tale theme for the event hoping we might make that a part of the main stage program.”

Kitchell said she heard a rumor that the Washington Fire Department readers, who also man a very popular reading room each year, were going to create their own skit or book animation for the event, bringing a little friendly competition to the evening.

Finally, The Bee, a regional spelling bee sponsored by The Missourian, will return for a third year. It has been set for April 20 at East Central College.

As in the past, a segment on vocabulary words will run in the newspaper issues leading up to The Bee.

A Bee That Tweets

Along with writing his monthly Book Buzz Picks column that appears in The Missourian, Newsbee also has mastered the art of social networking.

He “tweets” the latest book news for readers of all ages through his own Twitter account, @NewsbeeBuzz. His tweets are so informative that he now has a national following.

Still, local readers aren’t as familiar with this and other “online” resources for keeping up with Missourian book recommendations, so Stuckenschneider and Kitchell have devised a contest.

Everyone who “Likes” the Missourian In Education Facebook page at will be entered into a monthly drawing for a new book. It may be the first edition of a Book Buzz Pick just being released or an advanced reader copy of a hot new adult novel.

“A goal for Dawn and me  this year is to increase the public’s awareness of the marvelous resources available on books in the print edition of The Missourian and in its online presence as well,” said Stuckenschneider.

“When I’m out and about, I often hear people say they’ve picked up a book idea from Newsweek or People . . . More often than not, they’re reviews on the same books that The Missourian is running.

“This is because of our marvelous connection with all the major publishing houses. The publicists I work with send us advance reading copies of books that might not hit shelves for months in advance.”

Great Outside Resource

As teachers make the transition to using Common Core Standards in their classroom — something happening across the state over the next few years — the newspaper can be a huge asset to their curriculum, said Kitchell, who outlined the multiple ways it does in a letter to local teachers.

“Common Core Standards emphasize informational text . . . using multiple texts . . . making connections with the community . . . emphasize authentic writing, including opinion, debate, argumentative, informative, explanatory — that’s a newspaper.

“In talking with curriculum supervisors for our school districts, I’m thrilled to hear they are now encouraging teachers to use more outside resources,” Kitchell wrote. “The Missourian is a terrific educational resource that is provided at no cost to your schools.”

For more information on the Missourian In Education program, teachers can email Kitchell at or call 636-932-4301.

To sign up to have classroom newspapers delivered for your students at no cost to your school, teachers can go online to or watch for order forms arriving in school mailboxes this week.