Many years ago some newspaper people recognized that the newspaper is a "living textbook." The simple process of writing and printing a textbook means that most of them are out of date as soon as they are published. That is not true with a newspaper which is updated and changed with each issue.
With the thinking that a newspaper is a textbook the idea of using newspapers in the classroom was born. Today, newspapers are used in the classrooms and in other continuing education programs throughout the country, not as substitutes for textbooks but as supplements to them.
When learning math is not cool to a youngster, perhaps using the newspaper to open the door to percentages -- as in baseball averages -- may be a major breakthrough. When trying to learn about adjectives, finding examples in newspaper stories may make them come alive in real situations.
Following the stories in newspapers about school board, county commissioners and city council meetings can help children learn more about the government and how it works. They can learn about taxation, funding improvements, referendums and just plain politics.
By reading the opinions of others through letters to the editor, editorials or columns they can realize that they have the freedom of speech. Their opinion matters and they are free to voice it by using many legal avenues.
There have been many changes in the newspaper industry over the years but one thing has not changed. Newspapers continue to be a great source of education in so many different areas of our lives.
Parents can pick up on this concept and read newspapers to their children, and encourage them to read the newspaper themselves when they are able.
Since textbooks aren't cool, don't tell your children they are holding a living textbook when they pick up a newspaper. Instead watch their grades improve and watch them grow into well-round citizens as they gain an education through the newspaper.