Thursday, November 13, 2008

Literacy is more than reading

Have you taught your child how to read a newspaper?

I don't mean the words themselves. I mean how a newspaper works. What a headline is. Where the author's name is, and how to tell what's happening in the pictures. Where does the rest of the article go off the front page? Why are there sections? And how to use the index to find the comics (very important).

This kind of information is crucial to a newspaper reader, because it helps you understand what to read, what you should skip, and what you can skim. It helps put the images in context. For instance, the same photo on the front of the Style section, and the front of the News section would have very different meanings.

Beginning readers need to know that they don't have to (and shouldn't) read every word of the newspaper. They need to understand what advertisements are vs. articles, what headlines and subheads are for, and how to tell which article goes with which picture.

You wouldn't do this all at once, of course. Even a thirty-second explanation could have a huge impact. Let's say you're reading the paper in the morning and your child is eating her breakfast. Why not take the section that would be most interesting to her, and point out an article. Show her the headline, and the photo, and tell her what's happening in the article.

Thirty seconds. That may be all she needs to get started - and curious. And curiosity creates amazing readers.

Newspapers are great because there's something for everyone. You child might enjoy the sports section, the comics, the main news, or fashion. Just keep them away from any articles that could be too scary - like in the business section.


Michele K. said...

What great ideas (as always)! The newspaper is such a part of almost every adult's life and something we (adults) take for granted, but I'm sure many young readers would find the newspaper more interesting if they could appreciate the nuts and bolts of it.

Joyce Grant said...

Thanks, Michele!