Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Enriching Education: News Literacy

Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, introduced The Life is Better When We Read Together initiative to highlight the importance of daily reading during the COVID-19 pandemic. Renaissance is offering unlimited free access to more than 6,500 myON digital books and news articles from February 1–7, 2021.

To help teachers/parents make the most of their free week of myON, Renaissance is making available it's latest What Are Kids Reading report, featuring lists of popular titles on the myON platform.

Although I know that's not a story in itself - the topic of teaching kids news literacy certainly is. There is an urgent need to teach young people how to be more discerning consumers of information. Research conducted at Stanford shows that students from middle school to college struggle to assess the credibility of the information they encounter online.

 The importance of reading materials at home cannot be overstated. In fact, research shows that kids with access to at least 500 books at home are more likely to graduate high school, while kids with minimal access to books often don’t make it past grade 9.*

Students, educators, and parents will access myON through a simple log-in, and low-bandwidth and offline reading options will maximize the reach of the Life Is Better When We Read Together initiative. As part of the week-long celebration of reading, Renaissance will also publish live metrics throughout to see if participants can top last year’s engagement and crack the goal of half a million hours spent reading.

Teachers are encouraged to share what their students are reading on Instagram using the hashtag #BetterWhenWeReadTogether and tag the @renlearnus account. On February 22, one lucky teacher will be randomly selected and their school will receive a six month subscription to myON. If they are already a myON customer, they will be able to gift the subscription to an eligible school of their choice and choose a publisher package add-on for their own school.

I had a chance to do an interview to learn more.

  1. Why is it so important for families to read together, not just independently?

Reading can—and should—be a shared experience. Stories aren't there to offer a solitary escape for the lonely reader; they're much more meaningful when readers can build real-world connections.

Families that read together can discuss together. Families that read together can share emerging ideas and interpretations, foster personal growth, and investigate new avenues for expression. Those deeper discussions elevate stories off pages, ensuring that students never forget invaluable insights and life lessons. Reading together also gives families a chance to actively engage and immerse themselves in a shared activity that reduces stress and promotes well-being.

This doesn't only apply to novels, naturally. Families should be having regular conversations about their world. By reading the daily news together, students and their families can have powerful discussions about the stories that matter to them—and why. The members of each family might live very different day-to-day lives, yet they all inhabit the same planet. Reading the news together allows families the chance to connect over an understanding of how their world is changing each day. 

  1. How can caregivers find books that the whole family will enjoy?

There's a story out there for every reader. It could be about fashion or football. Maybe it's Madagascar or the moons of Mars. Regardless of the topic, we need to nurture young readers' interests by trusting them to choose the books that speak to them. The challenge lies in finding titles that are relevant across the family. Each member can write down a list of topics; then those lists can be compared for potential overlap. 

Another approach is to let the members of the family take turns choosing books that have meaning to them. But whoever selects a particular title must explain why it matters—what is it about the subject or the characters that act as a draw. This person can continue to explain the aspects of the text that he or she enjoys most. As a result, it turns a reading activity into a worthwhile occasion to share. Even if manga doesn't offer universal appeal, for example, this exercise still serves to enrich the experience.

  1. What are the benefits of building strong literacy skills in kids?

The benefits of building strong literacy skills at a young age are numerous and significant. People learn more from books than any other source throughout their lives. Early exposure provides endless opportunities for students to build ideas and intelligence through core vocabulary. Not only do early literacy skills provide more opportunities for deeper learning and greater growth through reading, but they support academic achievement across curricula. Not to overstate the point, but more reading at a young age has a clear correlation to greater test scores. According to this recent Renaissance blog post:

“In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compared students’ National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores with their reading habits.4 For all age groups, they found a clear correlation between the frequency with which students read for fun and their average NAEP scores: The more frequently students read, the higher their scores were.”

And it's never just about the test scores. Reading skills at a young age are connected to career readiness and success later in life. Learning to be a better reader also trains students to become better communicators in general. That translates to key writing skills. Reading skills reinforce critical thinking and analytical thinking as well. Plus, nonfiction is vastly important for a generation that is desperate to acquire media literacy skills at an early age.  

For more information, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment