No matter how much parents and teachers keep telling children to read newspapers, not many of them take much interest. Children have always been told to read the newspaper daily to update their knowledge on current affairs as well as their vocabulary. But take a look at your newspaper first. Is either the language, pictures or the content of these newspapers exactly child-friendly?
Just as books for children are created in a way to make them age-appropriate, their newspapers too–if we really want children to read them–need to be customised.
Why do we need children’s newspapers in India?
Take Nidhi Arora, for instance, who started a children’s newspaper called The Children’s Post of India to get her son to learn about things happening around the world but through a critical lens. “When my son turned eight, it was simply a parent trying to ensure he gets a long term, analysis based view of news. I wanted him to grow up to be a person who is both aware and unfazed,” the mother, who finds this skill lacking in a lot of youngsters today, told Express Parenting.
Riddhima Krishnamurthy from another children’s newspaper RobinAge (published by Raj Arora), on the other hand, believes children need to be kept away from sensational news or gory images. They should be exposed to material that is sensitive to their understanding of things. For children, it is not just about what they read but also how they interpret a certain information. And that’s what parents need to keep in mind when exposing them to a regular newspaper.
How is a children’s newspaper different from the rest?
Unlike other newspapers, a children’s newspaper is designed to present relevant, age-appropriate content in an engaging way. One of them named Kids Age, founded by Sajid Saiyad, for instance, not only offers news but also provides an interactive space through games, puzzles, and stories apart from covering a range of subjects, from science to aptitude, for children from playschool to Class 8.
Kids Age also publishes activity-based newspapers for very young kids, from kindergarten to Class 2.
Again, The Children’s Post of India avoids any kind of violent, negative or death-related news. “We give our children the information, and supplement that with some critical reasoning questions. We try to build a holistic narrative,” Arora said. In its Thursday edition, the newspaper also features content in regional languages like Hindi and Sanskrit.
RobinAge carries “positive news”, informs Krishnamurthy, including “news, general knowledge, science, environment, technology, history, careers, art and craft, recipes, stories, recommended books and products, pet care, workshops, activities, puzzles, games and lots more”. “We took into consideration the family of fonts, font size, paper size and quality and proportion of print to pictures to ensure the newspaper is child-friendly and easy to read. For example, the 70 GSM art paper we use was selected specifically to enhance colours and the paper is pinned through the centre for ease in reading. The size of the paper is perfect for young hands to hold,” she added.
Coming to language, it is simple enough in case of each of these newspapers and is easy to read and understand. The reading age group varies between four and 15 years for Robin Age. The Children’s Post has readers starting at eight years of age, although they also have a few readers as young as four or six.
To add to it, these newspapers also provide opportunities for children to contribute to their content, which increases their interest further, like RobinAge which features children’s writing and opinion pieces.
Arora added, “Almost 40 per cent of our non-news content already comes from our children. Most of the cartoonists are children. The Friday Book Reviewer is a young girl who has been doing it for almost an year now – reviewing one book a week – diligently. We started an Artist Corner only because so many of our readers were interested. All Artist Corner features are reader contributions.”
How to get your child to read a newspaper
Arora suggests, “For my son, I discuss the paper with him in the evening, ask him what he liked, what we should do more of. I, for one, insist that he should read and discuss the paper with me every day because it helps him understand complex concepts easily. But secondly and more importantly, it has improved the quality of our discussions big time.”
Manjeet Nanda, another editor from the paper, also suggested a few tips:
1. To start with, read the newspaper to your child.
2. Parents can encourage by motivating their kids to read at least one or two pages.
3. Read newspapers along with the children.
4. Make it a daily habit for the kid to read.
5. Fix a time for the child to read newspapers.