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How to raise kind kids, a booze ban, BTS at U.N.: Our top non-pandemic global stories

Our correspondent Michaeleen Doucleff's daughter, Rosy, at age 2, as she does dishes voluntarily. Getting her involved in chores did lead to the kitchen being flooded and dishes being broken, Doucleff reports. But Rosy is still eager to help.
Michaeleen Doucleff/NPR
Our correspondent Michaeleen Doucleff's daughter, Rosy, at age 2, as she does dishes voluntarily. Getting her involved in chores did lead to the kitchen being flooded and dishes being broken, Doucleff reports. But Rosy is still eager to help.

Our top stories on the Goats and Soda blog in 2021 were mostly about the pandemic. But that's not the only topic that made readers click.

Even as the world worries about COVID-19, people made time for other topics.

They definitely wanted advice on how to get kids to help out with chores. That was one of our top stories of the year.

They read articles about other worrisome diseases — like Nipah virus and cancer (and the role that alcohol plays as a cause).

And they wanted entertainment. Readers flocked to our story on the K-pop supergroup BTS speaking at the U.N. General Assembly and our commentary on the Netflix film The White Tiger.

From the 321 global health and development stories posted on our blog in 2021, here are 9 of our most popular stories not about the pandemic, ranked by pageviews.

Are we raising unhelpful, bossy kids? Here's the fix

In some cultures, kids roll their eyes when asked to do chores. In others, they'll pitch in without even being asked. Researchers have identified two key practices to raise helpful children. Published March 5, 2021

Alcohol use linked to over 740,000 cancer cases last year, new study says

Most people don't realize alcohol consumption can cause cancer. A report in Lancet Oncology shows how big a risk factor it is for esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver and breast cancers. Published July 16, 2021

At least 4% of the world's newly diagnosed cases of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver and breast cancers in 2020, or 741,300 people, can be attributed to drinking alcohol, according to a new study.
markhanna / Getty Images/RooM RF
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Getty Images/RooM RF
At least 4% of the world's newly diagnosed cases of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver and breast cancers in 2020, or 741,300 people, can be attributed to drinking alcohol, according to a new study.

Why the world should be more than a bit worried about India's Nipah virus outbreak

A case of the virus in September, which claimed a 12-year-old boy's life, sparked fears of a new outbreak in India. Researchers are concerned that the deadly disease has the potential to cause global outbreaks as well. Published Sept. 12, 2021

A road blockade set up during the Nipah virus outbreak in the southern Indian state of Kerala in September.
C.K. Thanseer / DeFodi Images via Getty Images
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DeFodi Images via Getty Images
A road blockade set up during the Nipah virus outbreak in the southern Indian state of Kerala in September.

Why South Africa banned booze — and what happened next

The hope was that if people weren't out drinking, they wouldn't be spreading the coronavirus. There were unforeseen benefits to the ban, which ended in March — and negative impacts as well. Published April 16, 2021

A liquor store in Newtown, Johannesburg, shuttered during the country's ban on alcohol. The photo is from Dec. 29, 2020.
Phill Magakoe / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
A liquor store in Newtown, Johannesburg, shuttered during the country's ban on alcohol. The photo is from Dec. 29, 2020.

She owes her big environmental prize to goats eating plastic bags

The demise of the bag-consuming herbivores led Gloria Majiga-Kamoto to push for Malawi to enact a ban on single-use thin plastic. Her activism won her a 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize. Published June 23, 2021

Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, an activist from Malawi, is one of six recipients of the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize. She was instrumental in implementing Malawi's ban on thin plastics.
/ Goldman Environmental Prize
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Goldman Environmental Prize
Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, an activist from Malawi, is one of six recipients of the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize. She was instrumental in implementing Malawi's ban on thin plastics.

Research sheds light on what's killing young people, especially boys and young men

Globally, boys and young men made up two-thirds of all deaths among young people in 2019. A new report finds that many such deaths in this "neglected" age group are preventable. Published Nov. 19, 2021

Two boys stand at the edge of the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July. A study finds that boys and young men made up two-thirds of all deaths among young people in 2019.
Kazi Salahuddin Razu / NurPhoto via Getty Images
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NurPhoto via Getty Images
Two boys stand at the edge of the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July. A study finds that boys and young men made up two-thirds of all deaths among young people in 2019.

Malala Yousafzai's interview in 'British Vogue' sparks anger in her native Pakistan

The Nobel Peace Prize winner posed for a cover portrait and spoke openly in an interview. One of her remarks about marriage prompted vitriolic responses on social media in her homeland. (Although, she did end up getting married in November!) Published June 4, 2021

Malala Yousafzai was the subject of the cover story in the new issue of <em>British Vogue</em>. A comment she made about marriage prompted social media outrage in Pakistan.
/ Nick Knight
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Nick Knight
Malala Yousafzai was the subject of the cover story in the new issue of British Vogue. A comment she made about marriage prompted social media outrage in Pakistan.

BTS spoke at the UNGA. And that wasn't the only surprise at the U.N. event

The appearance of the popular boy band from South Korea was one of many unexpected moments at the U.N. General Assembly — everything from a U.N. TikTok to a groundbreaking food summit. Published Sept. 21, 2021

V (from left), Suga and Jin of BTS at the launch of the U.N. General Assembly's 76th session. The popular boy band from South Korea sang (in a video performance viewed online by more than 1 million) and spoke.
John Angelillo / Pool/AFP via Getty Images
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Pool/AFP via Getty Images
V (from left), Suga and Jin of BTS at the launch of the U.N. General Assembly's 76th session. The popular boy band from South Korea sang (in a video performance viewed online by more than 1 million) and spoke.

What Indians who've known poverty think of Netflix's 'The White Tiger' movie

The movie, based on an award-winning novel, traces the unlikely journey of a poor villager in search of wealth. Does it ring true to those who know what it's like to be poor in India? Published Jan. 29, 2021

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

He is "the white tiger" — a poor villager, Balram, portrayed by actor Adarsh Gourav, who is determined to use his intelligence to escape a life of poverty.
/ Netflix
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Netflix

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Malaka Gharib
Malaka Gharib is the deputy editor and digital strategist on NPR's global health and development team. She covers topics such as the refugee crisis, gender equality and women's health. Her work as part of NPR's reporting teams has been recognized with two Gracie Awards: in 2019 for How To Raise A Human, a series on global parenting, and in 2015 for #15Girls, a series that profiled teen girls around the world.