Scene: The breakfast table, parents buried in their morning paper. Children vying for attention, some going so far as to poke at what appears--to the younger ones, at least--as a blur of black and white.
To get your children involved in, and perhaps even converted to daily newspaper reading, the International Reading Association and the American Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation have come up with a list of ideas for getting kids--from toddlers to teens--interested in newspapers. Any newspaper, from small-town weekly to metropolitan daily.
Although there is a hint of newspaper public relations--this being Newspaper Education Week--many of the ideas would work for any of the print media. Who knows, you might even encourage a budding researcher, writer, stockbroker, weather forecaster. But in lieu of all that, have fun. And here's to peace at the breakfast table.
To get kids started, you might turn to the front page and show them the index, asking them to guess what topics might be found in each section. Other ideas: Younger Children
Try a scavenger hunt, looking for:
1. Picture of a person wearing glasses.
2. Picture of a map.
3. Number greater than 10.
4. Question mark.
5. Advertisement for a toy.
6. Picture of a pet.
7. Today's date.
8. Weather report.
9. Name of a town other than Washington, D.C.
10. Name of the town or county where you live.
11. Picture of an athlete.
12. Word that starts with a consonant cluster (st, ch, gr, etc.).
13. Picture of something smaller than they are.
14. Action word.
15. Name of a television star.
16. Picture of something to eat.
17. Word longer than eight letters.
18. Picture that has both men and women in it. First Readers
* Words, Words, Words--Cut out a short item from the front page, and have your child circle all the words he or she can read. Then cut out an article from the Sports section and circle all the number words.
* Stashing Our Gear--Have your child draw a large house (or draw one for him) and cut out pictures of household items to put in the rooms and then glue them into place.
* Alphabet--Using a lengthy article, have your child circle the letters of the alphabet in order as they appear in the story. Third to Sixth Graders
* What's So Funny?--Read the comics together, and ask your child to point to a comic strip dealing with the future, a sports-related cartoon, a serial comic strip, a family cartoon and a comic strip dealing with the past.
* Word Hide-and-Seek--This needs at least two players. "It" selects a word on a particular page of the newspaper, and the players then ask up to 20 yes-or-no questions to help them locate the word ("Is it in a headline?" "Does it begin with P?").
* Dear Kid--Read a letter from an advice columnist and ask your child how he or she would answer.
* Weather We Go--Your child should find the weather map, and then color the areas experiencing similar weather conditions.
* Stop the Presses!--Ask your children to pretend they have just discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Have them call a press conference and give their story to the reporters (you), telling who/what/when/where/why/how.
* Ages--Count how many different ages are mentioned on the front page.
* Dinner Bell--Tell your children you're thinking of taking them to dinner sometime (be as vague as necessary). Show them the proper section and ask them to look for a good place to go and make a list of their first three choices with addresses and phone numbers. Why did they pick these three? For Older Kids
* Lost and Found--Find this section of the classifieds, and try to imagine the story behind one of the ads.
* The Facts, Please--Have your teen read an editorial and underline the facts with a blue pen and the opinions with a pen of another color.
* Word Silhouette--Have teens draw outlines of themselves on paper and look through newspapers for words that describe them. (You can help.) Paste the words inside the outline. If you have a group of kids, you could mix them up, pass them out and get the players to guess whose picture they have.
* Headlines--Make up headlines for nursery rhymes ("Young Girl Terrorized by Intruder"--Little Miss Muffet).
* The Princess Wore White--Write a newspaper account of Cinderella's wedding.
* Help Wanted--Have your teen read through the classifieds, and then write a "help wanted" ad for a new teacher. Or a new parent.
* Imitate a Columnist--See if you can get your child hooked on a particular columnist. Hand him or her a column with a comment like, "You'll agree with this," "This is funny," or "What do you think of this?" The next time, you can say, "Here's that columnist again." Once the kid's hooked, ask him or her to try a column in the writer's style. Send it to the columnist.
* Time Capsule--Challenge your teen-ager to find three articles on the front page that would be of interest 100 years from now. Then look for ads for items that probably won't be used a century hence.
* Fantasy Trip--Look through a travel section and have them pick a vacation spot. What can they learn about that place from the articles? From the ads?
* Food for the Family--Have your teen look through the food sections, pick out a recipe to try and adapt it, if necessary, to your size family.
* The Prophets--Suggest that they read horoscopes and use weather news to forecast what the day has in store for the family.
* Stockbroker--Give each of your children a hypothetical $8,500 to invest in three stocks. Which ones do they pick? How many shares can they buy of each? Have them follow their stocks for a week or so, and see how they do.