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America’s Kid Times takes home 5 awards

Local paper produced by kids for kids wins big with national competition

Posted: August 18, 2009 8:01 p.m.
Updated: August 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.

America’s Kid Times won five awards in the 2009 National Newspaper Association’s Best of Newspaper In Education Contest, including first place in Innovation Awards: Educational Support, Non-daily Division.

The publication, distributed monthly by The Signal, also garnered a second place standing in the Innovation Awards: Best Ideas, Non-daily Division, and three third-place titles in areas of literacy, partnerships and sponsorships.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Dean Paradise, America’s Kid Times publisher, after the awards were handed out. “I would have been thrilled to have honorable mentions. But to find out we won five and there are only seven categories ... I’m so excited, I couldn’t sleep last night.”

Judges called America’s Kid Times “one of the most kid-friendly projects,” citing its “super graphics” and “wonderful creativity” in the awards announced Aug. 4.

“We’ve always had those things in mind,” Paradise said.  “Between my wife and I, we have five kids who are all older now, but at the time we developed something for our kids. And to see it recognized on a national level — we were just speechless.”

Paradise knew that the best way to get children’s attention is to speak directly to them, which America’s Kid Times does, he said.

“We wanted to get them excited about reading and writing with subjects and topics that interest them,” he said.

An awards ceremony will be held Sept. 26 during the National Newspaper Association’s annual convention and trade show in Mobile, Ala.

The idea for America’s Kid Times was planted 10 years ago when Paradise was reading the Sunday paper. His 8-year-old son crawled into his lap and said, “Hey, Pop, give me something to read.”

“I thought, ‘Why not just have cartoon news?’” Paradise said. “‘Why not have a business page for kids? Why not have coloring contests?’”

Paradise started to meet with cartoonists who had some kid-friendly design ideas.

Then, about 18 months ago, Paradise was laid off from his job as a land development engineer. He decided to make his idea a reality.

“Crisis makes for change, so my wife and I said, ‘Let’s take the opportunity,’” Paradise said.

America’s Kid Times premiered in August 2008 and caught on quickly. By December, the publication had expanded to include a San Fernando Valley edition.

It was approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District and now appears in more than 100 elementary schools in the San Fernando Valley.

In January, Paradise partnered with The Signal and Signal publisher Ian Lamont.

“I have to thank the staff at The Signal for being so supportive. Of course, Ian Lamont — his vision and guidance really brought America’s Kid Times to where it is.”

At the convention in September, Paradise will have a visible presence and a mission, he said.

“Our goal is to partner with newspapers throughout the country.”



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