Children’s book helps students spot misinformation

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) —

A new book aims to teach elementary school students how to spot misinformation and separate fact from fiction.

Faculty and staff with the University of South Carolina’s College of Information and Communications are tackling misinformation with their new children’s book called “Dot Buys a Bike.”

The book is about a chicken named Dot and her friends navigating true and false information that’s presented to them.

The book was read to second graders at A.C. Moore Elementary School by Cocky’s Reading Express, a literacy program available through the University of South Carolina.

The book’s co-author and content writer at USC, Rebekah Friedman, says she and her colleagues noticed a gap in literature when it came to teaching kids about misinformation.

The book aims to fill that gap.

“When we asked the 2nd graders today how many of them are familiar with YouTube, every single hand shot up. So already, they’re familiar with YouTube, they’re familiar with TikTok, they’re familiar with Instagram. And so its important that we begin having those conversations early,” says Friedman.

Valerie Byrd-Fort with Cocky’s Reading Express says its important for kids to learn how to evaluate information they come in contact with.

“They’re gonna grow up and continue to see the news and read the news and watch what’s on social media and they need to be able to think about it critically. And so hopefully by reading this book, and asking themselves questions at the end like ‘Who made this information?’ and ‘Can I trust this source?’ That will help them later on in life and currently,” says Byrd-Fort.

The book’s illustrator, Marius Valdes, says his background in graphic design helps him draw characters that kids will enjoy and learn from.

“I’m not Rembrandt, I’m not someone who draws super elaborate pieces, so I think my work connects with kids on that level. In the sense that I use a lot of bright colors and strong shapes. I have a background as a graphic designer so there’s a lot of minimalism in my work. And so I think kids kind of relate to that,” Valdes says.

Cocky’s Reading Express travels statewide reading to mostly elementary and middle school students.

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