[Moore, T. 2004. Beyond Books. Children and Families. Vol 18, No.2 (Spring): 22, Alexandria, VA: NHSA]
When I was a young child, I’d pretend to be my father and read the newspaper every morning. I couldn’t actually read yet, but I loved turning the pages, taking in the photographs, and trying to sound out the large letters of the headlines. If you look around any classroom, you’re sure to find plenty of books. But what about newspapers and magazines? These are a terrific way of adding variety and capturing children’s interest. While not as many parents today read a daily paper, newspapers and magazines are still valuable teaching tools. Keep and eye out for the diverse assortment of newspapers available in your community. In my hometown, along with the daily Charlotte Observer, I can read The Charlotte Jewish News, The Charlotte Post (covering the African-American community), La Noticia (covering the Latan American community), and other papers. Magazines are even more diverse. University of Mississippi journalism professor Samir Husni, who is called “Mr. Magazine” by some, estimates that 75 new magazines launch in the United States every month. Take a trip to a bookstore that has a large newsstand section. You’ll be amazed as you scan the titles. Here are some ideas of ways you can use magazines and newspapers in the classroom. Share good news. Bring in articles featurning positive news about children in your community. Read a paragraph aloud and talk with your students about the story. Invite them to think about what they might do to be featured in a newspaper. What’s it like outside? Use the newspaper to talk about the weather. Show how to look up the weather and any illustrations of what it will be like outside today. To extend the activity, consider posting a calendar and drawing what the weather is each day, using a sun, clouds, rain, or snow. Explore new places. Show your students a newspaper written in Chinese, Greek, or another language that uses a different alphabet. Write some of the unfamiliar letters on the blackboard. Talk about what children like to do and eat in the place where this newspaper is read. Play in centers. Add magazines to your centers in creative ways. Start a library or create a doctor’s office with magazines in the waiting room. Create an article. Invite a writer to visit your class and create a story, using the children’s prompts. Or try this activity with the children yourself. Smile for the camera. Photography is a big part of newspapers and magazines. Talk with children about why we take photos. Use a disposable camera and photograph each of your students. Display the photos on the wall at the children’s eye level. Money, money. Newspapers and magazines wouldn’t exist without advertising. Discuss what ads are with your class. Describe both the positive and negative effects of ads. Ads can help us find things for sale that we really need. They can also encourage us to by more than we need. Looking at catalogs with children could start a conversation about how much things cost. Try this at home. Children feel cozy when they read grown-up magazines with Mom or Dad. Ask your parent involvement coordinator to encourage parents to share newspapers and magazines they enjoy with their children. This is particularly important given the rise of Internet use. Children need to see adults reading traditional materials, too. Research other resources. Contact the promotions staff at our daily newspaper to learn their ideas for using the paper in the classroom. Many newspapers have special resources for teachers. Children who like to play with newspapers and magazines now are more likely to be readers of those publications later. You may also find your horizons broadened once you explore titles that you aren’t familiar with. And don’t forget to read the funnies!
© Thomas Moore, 2004 Thomas Moore, Ph.D is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, early childhood consultant, and children’s recording artist. He is author of Gryphon House award-winning teacher resource books “Where is Thumbkin?” and “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”. He is contributing author of Wright Group/McGraw-Hill’s curriculum, DLM Early Childhood Express and author of their literacy series “Music, Movement and More”. He has also produced ten recordings for children.