Inside: Get 4 related follow-up activities, plus a facts/myth sheet and some free clip art.
Should we teach kids about fake news?
In my view, yes.
We grown-ups have been arguing with increasing ferocity lately about what constitutes fact. Younger readers are going to be introduced to that argument sooner or later, and this little treasure – The Sad Little Fact – is a sassy, thoughtful way into the concepts.
Title: The Sad Little Fact
Author: Jonah Winter
Illustrator: Pete Oswald
Publishing: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2019
Themes: Facts, Truth, Philosophy
Meet a sad little fact! It is ignored, disbelieved and called names. One day the Authorities bury the little fact in an underground box where it finds itself with a “powerful collection of other facts”.
As the world grows dark with lies and half truths, an intrepid little band of fact finders is determined to uncover the truth.
“There was once a fact. A little fact. A sad little fact.”
I LOVED this book!
It’s a tiny allegory for a whole lot of big complicated scary ideas. Authoritarianism, the Big Lie concept, George Orwell’s thoughts on double-speak and modern day confusion about accepted truths all come into play. The Sad Little Fact presents powerful and progressive ideas in a gentle and comprehensible manner.
While I’ve listed the book as suitable for 4 to 7 year olds I think it would also work in older classes. The discussions provoked would be amazing!
1. What is Fact? What is Fiction?: This discussion needs to be had, but depending upon the age of your child (students) it obviously needs to be approached differently. In a primary classroom I would ask “What is a fact? What does that mean?” and have them do a pair/share before sharing their ideas with the class. I’d repeat that with “fiction”. If the class was old enough (Grade 4 or 5) I’d introduce the term “fake news” and talk about what that means and how it affects us.
2. Write a list of facts and myths about yourself. This could be lots of fun, especially with the myth side. For example I might write: “Facts: I’m a teacher. I like to read. I have a dog. etc. Myths: I sleep in the classroom all night. I eat chalk for breakfast. My best friend is a cow.” I think you get the idea 🙂 You can download a sheet below.
3. Draw your favourite part of the book. My students always love it when I ask them to do this and there’s always lots of chatter about the book while they’re drawing or painting. The best part is that even more discussion occurs when the students share their pictures and their thinking afterwards. It’s a win/win!
4. Two Truths and a Lie Game: This is similar to writing facts and myths about yourself. Everyone writes down two truths and one lie about themselves and then reads them to the class. The class needs to decide which one is the lie.
5. Study the illustrations: Go through the book slowly and talk about why the front end page is black and the back end page is bright and displays all the little facts. Why don’t we ever see the Authorities’ faces? Why did Pete Oswald paint the pages so dark in the first half of the book and light at the end? Why were the facts put in a box and buried?
DOWNLOAD: Some cute clip art
Be sure to check out my other book reviews.