Should children be reading the news?

Updated: Feb 17

The term "news" may immediately make you associate it with negative/disturbing stories that appear in the news leading to several questions such as, "What kind of news is appropriate for children to read?" "Is it a good idea to subscribe to a children's newspaper?" Here is useful information that could help you decide.




Short non-fiction articles come in handy especially when children aren't in the mood to read something long. The experience becomes interesting when the article is being discussed in a group and it paves the way for information sharing and new discoveries. This can be a great way to establish a positive association with reading as an activity.


Reading to remember for an exam and reading to remember fascinating information to share with peers, needless to say are poles apart. Exams are associated with performance and does little to grow overall self confidence. While exams are necessary to ascertain the level of understanding and provides teachers and parents a ground to assess the needs of every child, it need not be the only way for a child to grow as a reader. Reading fun facts to be able to share later with peers gives children a sense of self worth/esteem and goes a long way in boosting their confidence.


Decoding the title of an article before diving into the article to know more.

The news offers readers a lot more choice and the chances of finding something that suits each reader's interest is fairly high. However, the approach to reading a newspaper is very different from a story book. Unlike a book it is not essential to read every news article in the paper. Then how does one decide what one would like to read? By reading and understanding the headline or title of the article first.


Recently at the Young Readers' Club, we read an article on NASA's recent decision to decommission the International Space Station (ISS). The title in itself was long and needed some time to interpret. But it helped open up the group with every reader sharing their thoughts about what it could mean. The title was, NASA calls time on the ISS, home to the Earth's astronauts since 2000. Once they were told that the ISS is the International Space Station where astronauts stay for awhile doing research and sometimes even maintenance of this giant capsule in space, many understood the reference to it as "home to earth's astronauts since 2000." While that made sense, the phrase, "NASA calls time on the ISS" still remained vague.


The first guess was that NASA had announced to bring the astronauts back to earth, back to their families. The understanding or rather the imagination behind that statement was that the astronauts have been there since 2000 and that's a really long time to be away from family. That set the others thinking until someone contributed saying, I read about an astronaut who spent 3-4 months on the ISS. Perhaps, astronauts go there only for a few months. If that's true, then the interpretation that astronauts were being brought home after a long time did not fit in well. Someone raised the issue with spacesuits not lasting that long and how living in space is challenging in itself. Expecting someone to live there for decades is unrealistic. Then what can "calls time" mean? Then it struck them. "They are going to shut it down!"


We spent 15 mins on the title contemplating not just what it means but also what the implications will be. That discussions led every young reader make connections to anything they have read or heard or seen about space. We spoke about satellites, meteors, the sun, black holes (white holes? Do they really exist?"), future space travel and even global warming leading to a potential move to a different planet. The question that lingered in everyone's mind was that if we have been able to find so much, doesn't it mean that we need a concept like the ISS to continue?


Finding answers to our many questions

As we read we discovered how the ISS is an expensive project and considering that cracks have appeared, repairs over the long run may be less effective. We read about alternate space travel options that are emerging. Many in the group were quick to share all that they know about Elon Musk, Tesla and Space X.


We were carried away with awe with technological progress achieved, until a young reader started a string of questions- "How will they shut it down? Will they dismantle it and let everything drop back to earth? Wouldn't that be dangerous?" Then as if to answer his own question he said perhaps the best thing to do will be to let it float in orbit. The others agreed following which we decided to read further and find out what the plan is.


That's when we discovered "Point Nemo". Fans of the movie, Finding Nemo immediately connected "Nemo" to fish. But is it connected with fish at all? The only to find out was to read further and that's how we learnt all about "oceanic pole of inaccessibility" or "The South Pacific uninhabited area".


In a span of about half an hour we almost made a trip to space reading a short news article. Not just that, we also observed the nuances in the writing approach- The title giving us a gist without revealing too much, how the writer anticipated the most likely questions and sought to provide answers and so on.


What is the right age to begin reading news?

Most kid friendly news options provide different content written for a vast age group starting from the age 8 onwards. Once your child is comfortable reading story books, gradually introducing them to short news items can help them discover a different format to read.


Good sources for news that is kid friendly?

Print edition

  • The Hindu Young World

  • National Geographic Magazine for Kids (is good for children reading news for the first time)

  • Robin Age (Has short news snippets suitable for younger children as well as full fledged articles for ages 11 and above)

Online


 

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Both weekday and weekend batches at the Young Readers' Club are available. While this program is for the 8-11 age group, the Young Executives' Club program offers soft skills development course for the 12-14 age group. Need more information? Please fill in the contact form below and we will reach out to you asap.


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