A Little Knowledge
March 31, 2011 8:49 PM   Subscribe

For more than forty years, Betty Debnam has been writing, illustrating, and publishing a newspaper for kids: The Mini Page. It's now fully archived online.

It's still going strong today, with an online version.

I remember more of these than I care to admit. Oddly, even as a kid I remembered feeling they were a little homely looking for a nationally syndicated publication especially compared to the slick, Readers' Digest-produced Weekly Reader, but they do compile to make an interesting set of documents and there's something nice about their optimism.

1972: Let's Learn About China! The Nixons Are Visiting There
1975: Girls Don't Have to Wear Pink
1974: What's IN In School This Year (open classrooms and hands-on science)
1975: Happy Labor Day Means a Job
1976: A Visit to 'The Electric Company'
1974: Inching Into the Metric System
1977: Oh, Say Can You CB?
1978: Bike Tips from Mark Hamill
1978: The Dream of a Space Station
1980: Bringing Up Amy (Carter)
1981: Games Kids Play Today
1984: Dear Mr. President (Reagan)
1985: The Kids of 1985
1991: The Kids of 1991
1994: Whoooo's R.L. Stine?
1994: The Information Superhighway, featuring Al Gore.
posted by Miko (20 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Holy shit. Thank you for this. still not happy about Mighty Funny's redesign in the early 80s.
posted by jtron at 9:02 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh my, I had completely forgotten about this. Thanks for bringing me back to 1978.
posted by waitingtoderail at 9:05 PM on March 31, 2011

Odds my bodkins, how I used to love the Mini Page when I was little. Finding the word MINI in all of the Mini Spy puzzles was one of the high points of my week. (I was a simple people back then.) I am convinced that that's how I got so good at finding all of the NINAs in Al Hirschfeld's cartoons.

Miko, you rock. Thank you for posting this.
posted by bakerina at 9:18 PM on March 31, 2011

I clicked through on the 1974 link and immediately had a strong flashback to elementary school. I didn't think I remembered this, but there it is. (Also, I remember open classrooms and hands-on science kits).
posted by not that girl at 9:18 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chiming in with appreciation.
posted by JHarris at 9:19 PM on March 31, 2011

It was years before I realized that the Mini Page was syndicated and not just unique to the Raleigh N+O (although that's where it first appeared.) Sadly, the entire print edition of the N+O today is not much bigger than the Mini Page.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:25 PM on March 31, 2011

It is really weirding me out how accurately I remember these. I had no idea they were still lodged in the deep recesses of my brain -- especially that Al Gore one. Thanks for the link!
posted by spiderskull at 9:28 PM on March 31, 2011

Oh, wow. I lived for the Mini Page when I was a little kid. We always took the Chronicle, even before the Houston Post folded, and the Mini Page came in Saturday's Lifestyle and religious section.

Like Rangeboy, I didn't realize it was syndicated. What a fabulous product for kids. God bless Betty Debnam.

And Miko, for posting.
posted by pineapple at 9:32 PM on March 31, 2011

Yeah, the Mini Spy puzzles were excellent. I remember doing them and reading the articles while sitting next to my mom, every Wednesday, while she read the adult people paper. I had no idea that it was just produced by one person. Thanks for helping me realize that Betty Debnam is awesome.
posted by mcmile at 9:36 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I freaking lurve the Minipage!
posted by bardic at 9:45 PM on March 31, 2011

Wow. It is a very interesting experience to realize that people all over the world shared a formative childhood reading experience with me, and I'm not the only person who still remembers it. Not that I'd actively thought about The Mini Page in years, but I remember reading it in my local newspaper in the late 80s.
posted by Alterscape at 10:33 PM on March 31, 2011

Huh. These aren't even remotely familiar. I guess I kept living in places where they weren't available, or something.
posted by rtha at 10:35 PM on March 31, 2011

These aren't even remotely familiar. I guess I kept living in places where they weren't available, or something.

Same here. But no big mystery: I grew up in Alabama, where children reading (as opposed to playing football) was not seen as desirable.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:45 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Next up from my childhood, Highlights for Children. Are you like Goofus or Gallant?
posted by sonascope at 5:06 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Which is to say that it's really not a bad thing to be earnest.
posted by sonascope at 5:07 AM on April 1, 2011

Not at all. This is something that, if conceived today, could just not be so noncommercial.

I was a Highlights reader, too. My grandmother always subscribed for us. I can recall a few other publications I loved, some of which I'd love to make an FPP about sometime. There was a lot of good kids' media in the 70s and 80s. Not sure what kids are offered to read today.
posted by Miko at 10:43 AM on April 1, 2011

1994: The Information Superhighway, featuring Al Gore.

Holy shit! Al Gore did invent the internet!
posted by ericbop at 11:45 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

as a kid I remembered feeling they were a little homely looking for a nationally syndicated publication

They look hand-made, Miko. Made with LOVE.

I...I...I loved The Mini Page.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:25 PM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Okay, here's my ridiculous Mini Page story.

When I was 10, the Long Beach Press-Telegram ran the Mini Page every Wednesday. And then, one day, they decided to reduce it from one one to half a page.

I really loved it, and, with my grandmother's encouragement, wrote a letter to the editor complaining about how they shouldn't cut down the Mini Page because it got more children reading the paper blah blah blah self-important-overly-clever-child nonsense.

They printed it, and then, the next thing I know, I'm invited to the Press-Telegram for a luncheon for the best letters to the editor of the year. There's me, ridiculous little 10-year-old me, and then there are busybodies who obsess over zoning legislation or other such local nonsense.

We got a tour of the entire newspaper, which was as exciting as it could be when you're talking about a 1987 relatively small-time newspaper, and that was my day at the Press-Telegram.

I think I got a certificate, and then, a year later, they cut it down again. But by then, my nerdy passions had moved on to something else (not that I remember what it was - maybe a chemistry set or that Tandy that attached to our TV), and nobody else in the South Bay area took up the banner of childhood nerd fury.

I actually didn't know until now that it was syndicated. I wonder if she knows that I fought to keep it going once.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:40 PM on April 1, 2011 [7 favorites]

I loved the Mini Page growing up. Betty Debnam came to speak at my school and was just incredibly lovely to everyone.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:09 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

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