By Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff
According to the nonprofit Reading is Fundamental, “Children who do not read over the summer lose more than two months of reading achievement.”
And because reading loss is cumulative, the organization says that by the end of 6th grade, “children who lose reading skills over the summer will be 2 years behind their classmates.”
So, what’s a busy family to do?
One inexpensive, engaging and fun way to keep nonfiction reading comprehension skills sharp is to encourage children to start the day with a morning newspaper. A mature high school student may be just find reading the entire “A section” of The New York Times, but I’m not a fan of handing it over to my nine year old along with a bowl of cereal.
Still our children can be citizens of the world.
The website Free Online Newspapers is a great resource for finding newspapers to add to your summer routine.
- KIDSPOST: If you’re lucky enough to live in the DC area, you get this page in your paper, but for those reading it online, you’ll have the benefit of the archive right at your fingertips. This online news for kids has features, book reviews, recipes, games and puzzles and trivia. As with all online newspapers, you might need to set ground rules with your young reader about which “non kidspage” tabs they can select.
- Smithsonian’s TT Junior, Tween Tribune, and Teen Tribune: With the option to select the reading material based on grades (you might guess that the Tween Tribune is on my radar right now with a rising 5th grader), as well as by Lexile level, this online news source can be customized to your children. There’s even a Spanish version. Two notes to consider: users who log in to an account can leave comments; and some children may not be as comfortable seeing the Lexile level under the article. Advice from one seasoned teacher: talk with your child and acknowledge that some articles might be “stretch” and help the student see the Lexile level as an opportunity to grow. Read the Mindprint Expert Review of this website and app.
- IndyKids: Watch out, the kids may get their own printing press after discovering this indy newspaper by and for kids. “More than a Score: Opting Out of High Stakes Tests” by 13-year-old Sadie Price-Elliott; “El Librotraficante” by Monica Deleon age 12, about Arizona’s ban on books and curriculum focused on Mexican American Studies; and another story titled “Youth Activists Taking on Public Safety” by an 11 year old are a few of the top articles. Read the Mindprint Expert Review here.
If you need some ways to encourage your kids to read these newspapers, and after a few looks at the websites you might agree that you’ll need no persuading, I have a few extra ideas.
1. Let them see you reading the newspaper. They’ll either want to steal your paper, read over your shoulder, or ask you incessant questions about the photo on page A1.
2. Invite them to take the articles and turn them into a broadcast. Gone are the good old days of cassette tape recorders and clunky home video cameras, but I bet your children can find a way to make their own news program.
3. Invite debate. Chances are, there will be topics in these newspapers that spark controversy, emotion, opinion, or curiosity. Maybe your child will want to post a comment or discuss some ideas more deeply with you. Considering how often we’re told about the benefits of family discussions over dinner, why not flip the routine a bit with a newspaper as a starting point.
We encourage you to read reviews of other news sites and apps on the Mindprint site, where parents can find detailed insight.
And for the Mindprint Learning Strategy on Reading Newspapers & News Magazines click here.