Chandler girl named ‘kid reporter’ for national outfit - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler girl named ‘kid reporter’ for national outfit

October 27th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler girl named ‘kid reporter’ for national outfit
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By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

A Chandler girl is wading into journalism.

Zoya Siddiqui, a 7th grader at Arizona College Prep, was selected in September to be a “kid reporter” by Scholastic Kids Press.

“I get to report on current events, breaking news and local news,” Zoya said. “I’m really grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity, and yeah, I think I could see myself doing this in the future.”

Zoya is supposed to pitch her own stories, do the reporting, then write them for Scholastic Kid Press’s website, which is available to 25 million children nationally. She gets to do that for a year.

Scholastic, a publishing company, has been running the Kid Reporter program for the past two decades. Their reporters have covered local, national and international news.

They’ve also interviewed top newsmakers, including former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, former Vice President Mike Pence, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Daily Show host Trevor Noah.

Zoya is already at work reporting on her first story, a feature on a Tempe nonprofit, the Welcome to America Project, which delivers furniture and other household supplies to refugees who have just arrived in this country.

Select stories that our published online are used in a magazine, Zoya said.

Zoya said she is interested in pursuing journalism as a possible career, but she also loves animals and may choose something in that field as well.

Her interest in words does not surprise Zoya’s mother, Shaheen Siddiqui.

“I’m super inspired by her actually,” Shaheen said. “I think she read about 100 books last year.”

Zoya won the spelling bee at Hancock Elementary School last year and advanced to the regional competition. She also had a story of hers published in a book by a New York Times best-selling children’s author. She also started her own virtual book club during the pandemic.

“A friend of mine actually gave her an idea to do it, and she took the idea and ran with it,” Shaheen said.

As part of the book club Zoya jump-started her interest in journalism by interviewing one of the authors for a podcast.

“I recently read a book that featured a South Asian protagonist,” Zoya said. It was really exciting for me to see myself in a book for the first time. Honestly, I never liked reading that much before, but seeing this was really cool. So I got together with some friends and I started it during the pandemic, so it was virtual. We interviewed the authors, and then we’ve had numerous authors come on to talk to us.”

Zoya said her book club has grown beyond just her friends to include people from as far away as Chicago.

Children’s author Kelly Yang asked students to share their pandemic stories for her “New From Here” work. Zoya submitted her experience, “Hope through the Screen,” and it was included in the stories published online.

So why journalism?

“I think because it’s important for everyone to stay educated, informed about what’s going on around them?” Zoya said. “Especially kids.”