Here, There be a Writer

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Mini Page Retrospective!

Did you remember that feeling. That one waking up on a Saturday morning and running to find the paper, maybe tearing apart the sports and classifieds looking for two special things? You know what I'm talking about. The comics and The Mini Page? The best thing about of that paper was it was full of fun that any kid (especially me, cause I'm a dork) could fill a morning or afternoon with.

Some of you, Dear Readers might be a little confused. You might be asking , what is a Mini Page? A small piece of paper? A miniature newspaper? Well, that's a pretty close guess

The Mini Page was a single newspaper insert in the standard newspaper for kids that came in the Saturday paper. And it was the BEST THING EVER!!

Okay, it was educational, and in the same realm as the Weekly Reader that I and (millions of kids in the 80's and 90's) got at school. Note: Is Weekly Reader a thing in school anymore? Not having kids I just don't know. A newsletter of sorts about science, literature, news, and such. The Weekly Reader was something that we, as kids, had to take home and read, and then do the puzzles and trivia questions. Now that's homework!

The Mini Page featured a topic and had small, kid friendly, articles about the topic. This week's (well, last week's) is all about lemurs. Printed on newsprint and with pictures that didn't always look the clearest in black and white, but was still awesome, but I would sit somewhere, usually on my stomach and read about Lemurs, Arbor Day, Cinco de Mayo, or [insert topic here], and then proceed to finish the puzzles and read the stupid jokes. It was the best!

My favourite parts were the Mini Spy and the Mighty Funny's jokes. I seem to remember there were more than the word search and try to find puzzles. The Alpha Betty and the Alpha Mice for example, their purpose I am still fuzzy on. But there was Gus Goodsport's feature on an athlete of the week, Rookie Cookie's recipes for kid cooking (with parental help), a Meet this Person Spotlight (usually someone who is involved in the topic  being presented, connect the dots, mazes, and still other segments. I do believe that over the years some of the segments have changed and been switched out, like the connected the dots and the mazes (i remembered this while digging around on the internet.

Each segment had a mascot; Rookie the Kangaroo, mighty Funny the Superhero, Mini Spy the Cat (?), Bassett Brown the News Hound, Alpha Betty, Alpha Mice, and the Dot Twins (bears). I think that was what made it easily connectable for me, having the characters that introduce the segments. Plus I was always fond of anthropomorphic animals, even at an early age.

Did you know that The Mini Page has existed since 1969? And it's still running to this day, 45 years later? 45 years! Wow, imagine all the the kids that were inspired and educated by The Mini Page (that's a lot of kids) and founding editor, Betty Debnam. She who was the first editor, writer, researcher, and layout person! She was an elementary school teacher and not originally an artist, but created i a successful learning tools for children. Those critter and kid characters are classics now!

I bet you didn't realize that The Mini Page was inspired by the Weekly Reader. Also, The Weekly Reader has been around since 1928 and ran until 2012! They were all inclusive "newspapers" that featured articles on science, crafts, literacy, politics, history, vocabulary, etc. Weekly Reader was eventually bought out and absorbed by Scholastic  in 2012 and while the Reader doesn't exist in the classic format there the Scholastic News magazines that are still being printed to this day.

It was an easier time when all you had to worry about was reading the Weekly Reader and answering the questions and puzzles.

I think the Reader was used mostly from third to sixth grade, featured in schools, as that was the original aim, to use as a supplemental tool for teachers. Originally call My Weekly Reader in the early days and later just Weekly Reader.

How many of you, Dear Readers remember The Mini Page and the Weekly Reader? Favourite memory? Anything you hated about it? Leave me a comment below.

Example from 1988
It's been such a sunny and warm day here. I have been so very productive. I hope your weekend is going as well, Dear Readers. I will leave you with a quote from the late Dr. Maya Angelou, “Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.” Also,I have been reading, "Catching Fire", so, "May the odds be ever in your favour..." And some "Victory" Bond for you too!!


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