30 minutes a day

Jan 17, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

That's the oft-repeated reading goal for kids in 2013 -- and the newspaper can help

One of the well-promoted new year's resolutions nationwide for 2013 encourages 30 minutes of reading every day for children.

It's everywhere you look. Top government officials (usually with a lot of help from their spouses) are repeating the goal, as are leaders in education and the arts. A lot of celebrities are in on the 30-minutes-a-day reading drive as well.

To some people, 30 minutes of reading is accomplished every day without even thinking about it. Chalk up the newspaper staff to that list. We're reading and writing all the time.

But what if it isn't your job to read? What if you'd like to try the reading resolution with your sons and daughters this year but aren't sure how to go about it?

We suggest the local newspaper.

There are lots of things in The Ranger every day to appeal to young readers, both in terms of content and format.

There are the comics, of course. Many adults formed lifetime reading habits starting with a comic strip. They are quick, graphically stimulating, character-driven, often sequential, and usually funny.

The daily "Today in History" column can become a favorite with kids as well. Many of the same attributes apply. The history column offers up bite-sized pieces of information. It's impossible to get bogged down in it. And it can be an introduction to the concept that interesting and important people lived before we did, and that interesting and important things happened before our time.

The daily weather feature also offers an accessible reading opportunity for young readers. What was the high temperature yesterday? What's the record low for today? Was it warmer in Riverton or Lander yesterday? What was the coldest spot in the state? The warmest in the nation? Is it going to get warmer or colder tomorrow? How much snow fell?

The classified ad pages are fertile ground, too. Ask your young reader to find three things for sale, and rank them from most expensive to least. How many different kinds of puppies are advertised? Are there any pickups for sale? What kinds of jobs are being offered? Whose club meeting is coming up?

Many young readers are attracted first to the sports page. How did the Wolverines do? What about the Tigers, the Cougars, the Chiefs, Rams, Wranglers and Eagles? Did the Wyoming Cowboys win? Who's pitching tomorrow? Is there a picture from my game? Do I know the kids in the box score?

Movie listings. Restaurant ads. Birth announcements. The police report. Wedding stories. Achievers. Business briefs. Recipes. Any of these can provide a young reader with something to look for as she turns the pages.

And don't forget the daily news. Not every story is interesting to or suitable for the youngest readers, but we run many stories that are. Look at headlines and photo captions. Pick a story to read and then follow it as developments continue.

When something big happens in town, show the paper to your kids. Remember the flood, the fire, the night the mayor was elected, the day a team won a championship, or the premiere of a school play.

Obviously we care about reading. The newspaper counts on it, in fact. We have no reluctance in urging adults to share the newspaper with children. They will be our subscribers one day.

But there is more to it than that. Educators, parenting authorities, developmental specialists and many others tout the benefit of spending 1/48th of every day reading.

Fortunately for us and for you, reading the newspaper is easy, informative and fun. If you are looking for a way to get kids involved in reading, you're holding it in your hands right now.

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