Young writers can offer ideas on adult issues

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Without Google I wouldn’t know who Taylor Swift is.

But with the magical, all-knowing search engine, I’m now as smart as a certain first-grader I know.

For those of you in the dark, where I used to be, Swift is a famous country music singer. One of her biggest hits is titled “Tim McGraw,” which she released when she was 16.

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Now, she lives near Nashville with her parents. She’s modeled her style after an opera-singing aunt and LeAnn Rimes.

Oh, and she is the favorite country singer of Cathedral School first-grader Josie Richardson.

Josie, whose mom Ryan leads the advertising department at The Democrat, is precocious to say the least. Over the last few years she’s provided countless smiles and laughs for our staff, and I often catch myself talking to her like I would talk to another adult.

Monday afternoon Ryan came into my office and handed me a piece of paper saying “Josie wants me to tell you this is for the newspaper.”

The result was the beginning of my education about Taylor Swift.

“Taylor Swift is my favorite country singer,” Josie had written. “Her voise is so butiful.

“I was jamming out and writing this story. I was talking to my mama. And today I say … Taylor Swift is the best country singer in the world!”

Duly noted, Josie. You taught me something.

For a long time I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a group of children in town to write occasional columns for the newspaper. They wouldn’t be on anything in particular. They probably wouldn’t be clearly written or devoted to any one certain issue.

But I think reading the words of our community’s children could teach us all a few things. Even if it’s just that Taylor Swift is a darn good singer.

We, as adults, could get insight into the things our kids think about. We’d surely get quite a few laughs. And the children would learn from the process.

Josie’s isn’t the first letter to land in my hands.

Most of the children in my life know that I work for the newspaper, and they know that hanging around me might mean they get in the newspaper.

I have a small collection of writings from Vidalia Upper Elementary fifth-grader Ashleigh Cole, who prefers to write fictional stories about other children.

Her writing shows great promise, and her hope that it will be published in the newspaper makes me smile.

It shows an interest in the newspaper by a younger generation. And it shows that I’m not the only one who likes to see my name in print.

When children hand me stories or letters they’ve written, I always tell them that we can try to find a place for them in the paper. After all, this is their community newspaper too.

But the parents are always highly skeptical. They are surprised that I’d consider publishing children’s stories, and they don’t see the matter at all like I do.

But, you see, we have plenty of room in our newspaper for everyone. With a little guidance, I believe we can develop some young newspaper writers who can, in time, write on issues that affect their lives.

I think they can offer a perspective on important “adult” issues that we’ve all gotten too old to remember.

And I think children can teach us many things.

We are busy at the office right now trying to publish our annual Profile 2008 section. I don’t have time for a new project at the moment, but in the future, I’d like to recruit some child writers.

In the meantime, children, dream up your stories and try putting them down on paper. If nothing else, your mom will want them for the scrapbook.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or