Few resources are as inexpensive yet inherently valuable as the daily newspaper. For as little as the loose change in their pockets, readers can get all their local news, as well as learn what is going on overseas and, for sports fans, what happened during last night's games.
For educators, newspapers can be a valuable teaching tool as well. Younger kids typically aren't avid readers, but newspapers are often reader-friendly, with concise articles that aren't as long-winded as chapters in a book. Teachers hoping to instill a love of reading in their pupils can put the local newspaper to work in a variety of ways.
* Teach kids the "5Ws (and the H)." Most adults recall the lesson of the "5Ws (and the H)." The 5Ws and the H are Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Newspaper articles are typically built around the rule that encourages reporters to answer these six questions in the first several paragraphs of an article. Teachers can give their students the newspaper and tell them to identify the 5Ws and the H. Students are likely to embrace the reader-friendly nature of news articles, and might just pick up their Mom or Dad's newspaper around the house as a result.
* Teach the difference between editorials and hard news stories. When using the newspaper as a teaching tool, teachers can give students two different articles, one news and one editorial. Before explaining the difference, ask kids to identify the differences. Chances are, kids will pick up on the main difference, that an editorial is an opinion piece that uses facts to support an idea, while a news story simply reports the facts without giving an opinion. This can prove a valuable lesson for kids to learn, promoting reading comprehension and teaching kids to question the source of their reading materials in an analytical way.
* Encourage kids to read their favorite sections of the newspaper. Kids are kids, and they're may not be interested in the front page stories or most of what's included in section A. However, there are sections in every newspaper that can appeal to kids, and teachers and parents alike should encourage their kids to read those sections that interest them. The entertainment section might have stories about kids' favorite movies, while young sports fans are likely to enjoy articles about their favorite teams and players. The goal is to get kids excited about reading, and many parts of the newspaper are filled with articles kids can enjoy.
* Use the local section as a teaching tool. Kids may or may not be interested in what's going on in the world's financial markets or even the nation's capital. But the local section is something kids can often relate to, with stories about people and places they're familiar with in their own towns. Human interest stories about local residents doing good deeds or about local businessmen and women setting trends might give kids a greater sense of pride in their community.
The local newspaper is a wonderful tool for educators to use with their students. If there's not one already, teachers should contact their local school board or even their local paper to see if an agreement can be worked out where teachers can provide their students with the local newspaper every day.