When & Where to Read the News

The following is a chapter from my book Bruh, Read the News: A Teen Guide for Fighting Disinformation, One Critical Thinker at a Time.

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Just like anything else in life, when it comes to reading the news, find what works for you and stick with it. If you’ve got the time to read the news in the morning, go for it. Maybe you prefer the evenings after school or your part-time job. Just keep this in mind: research suggests you should not watch the news for more than an hour a day as it’ll leave you depressed and deflated, and that’s the last thing I want this book to encourage.

Where to Read the News

Figure out where you’re going to read the news. It’s best to find a quiet place to concentrate, just like anytime you read. Maybe you prefer to read in bed, on the couch in your living room, or at the kitchen table when the dishwasher isn’t running. As long as you’ve got a fairly sanitary process and routine, bathrooms work also.

Can you guess which one’s the best seat in the house?

Not only should you pick a spot, but you also need to determine how you’ll read the news. I’m going to assume you prefer digital media. Will you read it on your laptop or desktop? In either case, create a bookmark folder in your browser for news sources. Compile around 10 trusted sources, with a good mix of the impartial or least biased, like Reuters, and the “highly factual” or at least “mostly factual” (according to MBFC), but with an obvious ideological stance, like CommonDreams.org for progressive news, and NationalReview.com for conservative commentary. The reason I suggest that you read from sources with an ideological stance is because by doing so, you’ll learn about the history, principles and values at the root of the movements on both sides of the political spectrum, as well as discover a lot of the double-speak, corruption and hypocrisy that straight news sources don’t always confront for fear of being labeled “biased” or partial to one side or another.

A Digital Alternative

Another great option is to buy an eReader. I use mine multiple times a day. Even in the evening when I’m sitting on the love-seat in the living room watching basketball and spending time with my wife, I’ve got the eReader beside me for catching up on an array of books and news articles. I recommend a Kobo eReader over Amazon Kindle for a few reasons that aren’t the concern of this book, but one worth mentioning is the fact that Kindle uses a proprietary file type, which means the eBooks from the Amazon store can only be loaded onto an Amazon device. That’s no good for me and a lot of consumers, which is why Kobo is a great alternative as it uses a universal eBook file type known as EPUB.

Rakuten Kobo US
Besides the great convenience of reading all kinds of books on my Kobo eReader, it also is integrated with the Pocket app. The way it works is this: if I come across an interesting article on my work laptop or personal desktop, I’ll save it to my Pocket account, and then when I open my Kobo later on, the article will sync to the device and be formatted just like an eBook, making the reading experience far more enjoyable and convenient than if I were to read from my computer’s browser.

You can use this to your advantage when it comes to the news especially, and it’ll help you establish a workable habit in terms of becoming informed and remaining so on a regular basis. I suggest that you go to a few of the sites you added to your News bookmark folder and start small: save 3-4 articles to your Pocket account and read them when you’ve got free time later on in the day. There are even articles in major newspapers like the NY Times that’ll compile the most important news of the day for you in one article. Even just reading 10 minutes a day this way will improve your awareness of public policy and the world around you.

You’ll likely miss a day here and there in this hectic world we live in, but don’t worry. The key is to build the habit, and make those “miss days” more and more unlikely. There are Americans walking around right now who, astoundingly, can’t name the vice president, who can’t name the number of justices on the Supreme Court and haven’t read a serious article in a newspaper or magazine in years. Should we really scratch our heads wondering why it feels like the world is collapsing all around us as we scroll through our timelines on social media?

Rakuten Kobo US

Full disclosure: if you purchase an eReader or related accessories through the link above, I earn a small commission.

A Strategy for Encouraging Children to Read Again…Youtube?

Growing up, especially in my elementary school years, I loved to read. I consumed a ton of Gary Paulsen and Roald Dahl books, which were practically in the curriculum in my school so I can at least say my school was successful in that area. But there came a time, early in my adolescence, where it seemed like I spent more time sitting on the couch and watching Talespin than I did reading classic books. One summer, I assume this was the result of him noticing, my father forced my sister and I to read an hour a day. I don’t even know if it worked. I seem to remember just staring at the page, waiting for the hour to end. My father worked only 10-12 minutes away from the house, and tended to come home every day for lunch. One beautiful day, my sister and I were swimming in our pool, enjoying our time away from school. When our father came home for lunch, he insisted we complete our reading hour, so we sat on the pool deck with books in front of our faces. When he left to return to work and began to drive up the hill on the road along our house, he slowed the van, stopped and presumably stared at his children for 20-30 seconds (he was far enough away that we couldn’t see his face), who were sitting quietly on the pool deck, doing as they were expected, or in my case, just staring at the words. I still wonder if he heard the splash from the pool when the van was clear up the road.

Mom and Dad Set the Tone

I never fell in love with the hour-long reading chore, for lack of a better word, because that’s what it felt like, a chore. I was being forced to read. However, I do credit my dad, and my mom, for my love for reading (Mom was the one who would read to me at bedtime when I was younger). He set an example. My dad is a voracious reader to this day, and now that he’s retired, he reads even more.

Not my old man, but you get the picture, literally.

A Discovery

Now that I’m a father, I’ve been trying to think of ways to get my daughter to engage with books more without forcing her all the time (sometimes I just have to as a parent). I don’t want her to resent reading, and I don’t want her to think we have to make a deal every time I expect her to read (“if I…will you play Roblox?”). My wife and I did read to her nightly up to the age of around 4. Being so young and innocent, she loved the time with Daddy or Mommy, listening to the words, examining the pictures, pointing at objects, being shocked or surprised by a ridiculous turn of events. Now, we still read, but it’s not a nightly affair, even though it should be. Because she reads for school, and last year read for personal pan pizzas earned through the Pizza Hut Bookit! program (she has 3-4 certificates that haven’t been redeemed since the start of the pandemic), reading for pleasure seems so foreign to her now. After thinking I should start a Youtube page that presents exciting and engaging summaries of children’s books and books for early readers, I crawled out from under my rock and discovered that there are a bunch of Youtube channels devoted to reading (though I still might move ahead with the Youtube page for young readers).

The Strategy: Subscribe to Channels About Books and Reading

I’m going to subscribe to a few of these Youtube channels through the profile that my wife and daughter share. The way I see it, an algorithm is manipulating my baby, so I’m going to manipulate the algorithm. In school, my daughter, who turned 7 in August, is just now beginning to learn about the main idea of a story and has to put it in writing, followed by supporting details. The next step, after introducing her to some of these Youtube reading channels, is to buy some of the books she comes across on the channel. From there, “What’s the main idea of the story?” might become a weekly writing assignment tied to the allowance she gets for doing dishes on Wednesdays. If that doesn’t work, I might ask her grandfather to force her to read for an hour every day next summer. Just kidding, maybe.

If you have any strategies to share that encourage children to read, please let us know in the comments.