Week 4: Virtual Library Newspapers

Are newspapers dying? In print form, statistically, yes. But it’s more important than ever for our students to read and understand legitimate news sources online. This was not a lesson to determine fake news from valid sources, but navigating through our local paper and being exposed to this type of print media was a good start.


I asked how many of my students read newspapers or see their parents read newspapers. Maybe one or two per class – and mostly kids who live with a grandparent. 

What do you know about newspapers? Old people read them, fake news, Trump – yikes, steer the conversation elsewhere…

Paper Newspaper Exploration

Let’s see how we read a newspaper differently from how we read books and magazines. Hand out newspapers (pull out inappropriate content first – murders, rapes, etc.) to every one or two students and let them explore.

Share at your tables what you notice about newspapers.

  • Share out together and be sure to point out:
    • Cover / cover stories
    • Headings, captions, pictures, nonfiction text features
    • You can read out of order and it makes sense
    • Look at pictures / headings to see what articles you might be interested in
    • Other things kids notice or want to mention – comics, horoscopes, advice columns are popular

Virtual Library Exploration

Students then need to go to the newspapers section of Virtual Library and compare how the digital versions are similar / different from paper newspapers.

Review all of the nonfiction text features from above. The newspaper online is quite similar to the print version and the students mainly need to see the navigation features and an overview of the different sections and what they might find there.

  • Be sure to show the kids how to get to the weather, sports, and comics through the “essentials” section within the Springfield News Leader.


Provide time to look through different sections of the online and print newspapers then share out and close on what we’ve learned about newspapers and when we might want to look at the newspaper online.


This lesson went better than I expected. I had a random selection of newspapers from the previous few weeks, and worried about the current political climate causing tough discussions or overlooking mature content that would be tough to explain away to 2nd graders.

However, the kids loved seeing the paper magazines. Kids asked to take home their favorite comics or articles about sports to share with their families. We tore the papers apart and everyone could take something with them if they chose to. While the reading level was more advanced, my second and third graders were even more engaged than the older students in this lesson.

Do you teach newspapers in the library? Do your students have access to the local paper online or in print form? Are they reading the news?



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