Newspapers Are Ignoring a Key Constituency
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because expanding kids’ horizons should be child’s play.
Sukriti Sharma is an eighth-grader at Washington Irving Middle School. She writes regularly for her local community newspapers.
While I was growing up in the Greater Washington, D.C., area, KidsPost used to accompany The Washington Post on Sunday — the day my dad always got the paper. I liked turning the pages, reading essays, poems and pondering sudoku or crossword puzzles, among others. In fact, I still have a page framed on my wall in which the paper wished me a happy 7th birthday, along with my picture and photos of other children who celebrated their birthdays that same week.
That helped me develop a deep bond with newspaper-reading culture. Although I love reading news on laptops, desktops, smartphones and gadgets now, I could never grow tired of the feeling of a newspaper between my fingers. How many of our media outlets — excluding Time and The Washington Post, which still provide space for younger readers — in cities and suburbs these days contribute a little space to children’s academic growth? Almost none. And it’s numbing.
Believe it or not, newspapers play a paramount role in instilling a reading culture in children.
Believe it or not, newspapers play a paramount role in instilling a reading culture in children. If my dad wasn’t a newspaper reader and if he had not bought The Washington Post on a day that KidsPost came as a supplement, I would probably not be arguing so passionately that all newspapers should contribute some space to kids at least once every week, if not in every edition.
Joining in the conversation became such a part of my life that my dad and I now host a community TV show called American Conversations, which we dedicate to kids’ causes. I understand young people’s stories do not bring in much commercial value for publishers, since they don’t sell well to the people who buy or subscribe to newspapers or media channels. But they should not forget that these newspaper buyers have kids at home who are equally hungry for news of contemporary events and stories. And I am sure that once you start publishing kids’ stuff, there will be different advertisers — those that sell children’s toys or clothes, for example — willing to put their ads in those pages.
Sure, some would suggest that there already are plenty of TV channels and programs and online portals dedicated to kids’ education. But letting kids get glued to the TV messes with their eyesight — big-time. Statistics show that a whopping 31 percent of U.S. kids between the ages of 14 to 17 now wear prescription eyeglasses. When it comes to literary magazines for kids, there are barely a handful of publications like Stone Soup magazine. Yet there are thousands of such magazines for adults.
I’m not asking for much. If every newspaper and magazine around the world could dedicate just a half page of their entire publication per edition to children’s reading materials, that would be great. It should not be a secret that kids’ sections in all newspapers in all communities, big or small, are vital to the intellectual growth of our communities — after all, we all know children are the backbones of communities in the making.
If kids are inspired to have their articles, poems and memories published, that would greatly encourage them to read and write more. We know that if we educate a mother, we educate a family — so we should not forget that if we contribute to the overall education of a child, we educate a nation.