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Elise Gravel tackles misinformation and news literacy in children’s book ‘Killer Underwear Invasion’ – Mashable

Don’t be fooled by the silly title and primary-colored monsters in Elise Gravel’s latest book, Killer Underwear Invasion: The children’s picture book is much more than an entertaining bedtime story. One of dozens of fun and informat…….

Don’t be fooled by the silly title and primary-colored monsters in Elise Gravel’s latest book, Killer Underwear Invasion: The children’s picture book is much more than an entertaining bedtime story. One of dozens of fun and informative picture books books from Gravel — including You Can Be, a story of diversity and self-love, and the gender-stereotype exploration Pink, Blue, and You! — her latest foray into socially engaged children’s media is actually an important news literacy teaching moment. 

In Killer Underwear Invasion, Gravel’s characters run through real (and several made-up) examples of fake news throughout history, like the 1835 “Great Moon Hoax” by the New York Sun, which tried to convince readers that unicorns, bipedal beavers, and bat-like creatures had been found on the moon. Through the course of the book, young readers are taught how to spot misleading content and just how important it is for all of us, even the young ones, to know when we are engaging with credible information online. While Gravel makes it clear that fake news is not at all funny, her writing sure is entertaining.

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The brightly illustrated book of characters is both a response and a tool in the fight against growing misinformation running rampant across the country, which manifests both as simple, doctored images that get passed around internet forums as fact and intentionally orchestrated disinformation campaigns

Beyond tech industry and government intervention to prevent the spread of misinformation, a widely accepted solution to the problem is an emphasis on stronger news and media literacy among the general public. Media literacy is defined as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms.” News literacy is specifically one’s ability to determine the credibility of news and other information. Both are essential. Organizations like the News Literacy Project, a nonprofit dedicated to news literacy education, offers tools for educators and several resources for at-home news literacy education. Common Sense, a nonprofit that provides media and technology recommendations for families and teachers, has its own resource guide for teaching news literacy to school-aged children, both in the classroom and for parents

Educational campaigns like these work against a growing problem of mistrust and nihilism aimed at large news outlets and viral internet moments. But as adults do their own learning and unlearning of news consumption, how do we prepare our children? Gravel’s response is Killer Underwear Invasion, a child-friendly how-to guide against conspiracy and misinformation. 

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