GUEST COMMENTARY: Newspapers should be part of classrooms to improve knowledge

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | 6:46 a.m. CST

Every Sunday morning, my mother and father would pass sections of the newspaper back and forth. Over coffee, they’d share the news, the sports and the puzzles. My mother always did the Sudoku and my father always worked on the crossword.

Now, I sit down and read the paper in the morning. While I have no one to pass sections with, I think about how important the ritual of reading every morning can be to a healthy life. Knowing your world is essential to daily life.

It also makes our youth better readers.

The American Press Institute found that there is a strong relationship between students who are exposed to regular newspaper reading and lifelong readership. In fact, 62 percent of students with high exposure to daily newspapers continue to read regularly into adulthood. At every level of school — high school, middle school and elementary school — this correlation proved true.

It also proved true with me. The model of reading my parents set for me has benefited my life in so many ways. Not only is reading the paper enjoyable, it became a part of my schooling and hopefully my eventual career.

What does young readership mean for our country? It means an informed electorate. It means consistency. How can a nation go forward if we’re not, at least a little, on the same page? Reading the news is the beginning of open debate in our country. When both sides are objectively informed, the debate can grow.

Unlike other media, which is constantly changing, newspapers set a standard for consistent, accurate news. Tweets fly by in seconds, television is constantly fluid. In ink and paper, the newspaper is there. I find that my life is constantly distracted on the Internet. There’s almost too much going on. The newspaper presents a time for escape through knowledge.

A time with morning coffee or breakfast to read and learn about the world.

The newspaper can be a classroom tool. Cutting out articles, discussing what is written or creating a newspaper of the classroom’s own. All of these activities help shape young readers and prepares them for a life spent in information.

It can lead to books, to writing and to better communication. The newspaper is not academic or wordy, it’s for all. It’s written to be understood.

The thud of the paper on the door of my childhood home is still comforting to me. The idea that this “daily miracle” is something for me, my family and others to discuss, read and use astounds me.

Karen Miller is a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism. She hails proudly from Tacoma, Wash. She is an assistant city editor and copy editor at the Columbia Missourian. She can be found in Columbia drinking coffee, listening to new music and pretending to be more philosophical than she really is.

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