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Join the “Read-an-Article-a-Day” Initiative

Posted by Elfrieda H. Hiebert on 21 January 2016

As a reading educator, I’m recommending that schools get on-board with the “Read-an-Article-a-Day” initiative led by the nonprofit Readworks.org

Why?

Reading a newspaper or magazine article a day at school addresses several of the reasons why many children and adolescents aren’t reading well.

  • Many children and adolescents simply aren’t reading enough to be adept with any text, much less the complex text that 21st century standards require. Incorporating articles into the school day can increase the amount that students read.
  • A range of content is available in articles. Students don't need to possess extensive background knowledge to read most articles since articles are written to provide new knowledge. Knowledge on many topics helps develop the background knowledge that is the best predictor of reading comprehension. 
  • Articles are also shorter than most chapters in schoolbooks. When the text is shorter and appears more accessible, many reluctant or struggling readers are often more ready to take on the challenge of reading. In the process, they gain the confidence to tackle longer texts.
  • Articles also are the primary type of text on assessments. I present this feature last because the underlying purpose for articles is not test preparation. But, since articles are represented heavily in many state and Common Core-aligned tests, it only makes sense for students to become familiar with the styles and features of articles, when they will be assessed on this type of text.
When and how?

Articles can be found on most topics, which makes article reading possible in any subject area. Here are additional times of the day:

  • Warm-up reading:  Magazine articles are ideal for daily warm-ups to begin the school day or a class period.
  • Sustained reading sessions:  Articles can also be used in sustained reading sessions to increase students' stamina and attention in silent reading.
  • Reading outside school:  Articles can be a way to support reading at home, including over extended breaks such as spring break. Teachers can give students packets of magazine articles to read as part of their homework or during holidays.
Where to find articles?

There’s absolutely no reason to purchase expensive programs to get great articles. There are many government agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide child-friendly articles. But locating all of these articles can be time-consuming. I suggest that schools begin with several sites that provide high-quality articles for free. Here are some of those sites:

Readworks.org offers around 2,000 articles (with new articles added frequently) that range from Grades K through 12 and with Lexile levels 0 to 2200. The articles are tagged by content and comprehension strategies and have accompanying comprehension and vocabulary activities 

Commonlit.org is a relatively new site. As of mid-January 2016, there are 16 themes, each with a set of 3-4 articles for 4 grade levels (5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12).

TextProject has three types of articles aimed at students in grades 2 through middle school: FYI for Kids:  approximately 90 informational articles; Talking Points for Kids: sets of articles on 10 topics (e.g., Heavy Backpacks); and SummerReads:  sets of several articles on 21 topics (e.g., Bikes and Boards).  There’s also a program aimed at K-2 students called BeginningReads, with 12 short articles at each of 10 levels. 

Learn more about the "Read-an-Article-a-Day" initiative, sponsored by readworks.org: https://sway.com/4rD69cs24IHvkKDo