Newspapers are called the Living Textbooks because of their current news and interdisciplinary nature. Make newspaper reading an everyday routine with your child. Given below is a list of activities you can use as a starting point to develop newspaper reading as a daily habit:
Look for a picture of a person your child would recognize (prime minister, cricketer or any other sports person, a movie star, a police office or a singer, among others). Talk about what these people do. Discuss why some of them became famous or why they are featured in the newspaper. Telling the child about “strangers” peeping out of newspapers and identifying them as real people is a great way of introducing professions to a child. This is a politician; someone is a golfer, while someone else is a mountaineer. Pictures about people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds can lead to interesting discussions on different customs and styles of living.
Page turner: Encourage him to form his own opinion on a book or movie. JUPITERIMAGES, INDIA
A thousand words
Pictorial reading — each picture tells a different story. A picture about a natural phenomenon such as a tsunami, earthquake, cyclone or landslide can lead to a discussion about their causes, locations and rescue measures.
Encourage your child to be a critic. Invite him/her to review a new movie, television show, music CD, book or event. Ask what he/she liked and didn’t like. Now, look for a review of that same item in the newspaper or on the Internet and compare the opinion. You can even offer open-ended sentences in response to newspaper reading. Two simple ones are “I agree with…” and “I disagree with…”.
Locate and learn
Conduct a newspaper scavenger hunt. Give your child a list of specific items found in the newspaper and give him a set time to find them. Examples of items to find: A movie he would like to see, a frowning face, a smiling face, a letter to the editor.
Many of today’s comic strips are like miniature narrative stories, often highlighting the problems or conflicts of characters. Laxman’s caricature of the common man is legendary. Pramesh and his 11-year-old daughter would look up to Laxman’s cartoon of the day and have a hearty laugh but his daughter become so connected with the everyday man’s malaise at the hands of the government machinery that she is thinking of getting into politics when she grows up. Besides, her sense of humour is more developed than her sixth grade friends.
Give the children a number of articles about the same story but from different newspapers. Ask them to compare stories from each newspaper. You could ask about how one newspaper has dealt with the story vis-à-vis another. Is some daily biased towards one particular point of view? How much space has each devoted to the issue? How much importance does the newspaper give the story? (that is, is it on the front page or in the inside pages of the newspaper?)
Ask your children to imagine that they are in charge of preparing a time capsule that will be opened in 200 years. They have to thus create their own daily, which will give the most information about our lives today, from the newspaper. They can use news articles, pictures and advertisements in the newspaper on current issues but the discerning power is theirs alone. What do they think is worthy of being mentioned?
They can be “cut and paste” poets; they can cut headlines that they find amusing over a period of days or till they have about 10 or 20. They can then arrange them to make a poem which could be hilarious, serious or dealing with a specific issue.
So, when you reach out to your newspaper with your morning cuppa, ensure that your child gets his daily fix too. Just take care that you or your child do not gloss over news items that might be unsavoury or too dense to assimilate.
Remember, good readers are not born… they are made!
Excerpted from Roots and Wings — A Handbook for Parents by Raksha Bharadia.
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