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Reading is the most vital skill children must master early in order to be successful in their education, and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has focused national attention on the importance of ensuring that every child learns to read well. One goal of the legislation is to have all children reading on or above grade-level by the end of third grade.

Although the newspaper is typically thought of as an adult medium, even young children can benefit from exposure to the newspaper to build the strong language and pre-reading skills that will set the tone for educational success.

Read the newspaper with your child, following the tips below to help him or her develop the five fundamentals of reading.

  • Phonemic awareness is the understanding that individual sounds work together to make words. Hold your child in your lap and point out the sounds in simple words such as dog, dish or door. Practice finding large words and breaking them down into their smaller parts, reading and sounding out each part until you’ve read the entire word. Read the newspaper aloud to your child, then have him or her “read” to you, making up stories, rhymes and songs.
  • Help your child understand phonics, or how letters sound, by pointing to letters in a headline, and having your child repeat the sounds of the letters. Have your child cut and paste letters from a newspaper to make up his or her name, labels, colors, titles and products.
  • Help your child develop a strong vocabulary by having him or her find new words in the newspaper. Simple words like car, bike, house, or baseball can be circled, or cut out and pasted on a piece of paper.
  • The ability to read words accurately and recognize what that word means
    at the same time is reading fluency. Read aloud daily to your child, and have him or her read aloud daily to you.
  • Comprehension is the ability to understand what you are reading, and beginning readers need a big spoken vocabulary in order to understand what they see in print. Help your child develop reading comprehension by having the newspaper serve as a print resource to reinforce images the child sees elsewhere. Scan the newspaper for words and images, then discuss where else the child may have come across these words or images.

Source: Newspaper Association of America Foundation’s “Reading First, NIE!” teaching supplement, developed by education experts in response to the No Child Left Behind Act.