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Second-grade students know a lot about newspapers.

Last week I visited with such a group at the Pleasant Green Elementary school in Magna. The invitation came from my grandson, Brandon, who has a wide range of interests, and I was pleased that newspapers was one of them.The second-graders in his class know what a newspaper is and quite a few ways it can be used.

"It tells you what is happening," one child answered.

"It has the news and what is on TV," said another.

"Sports, it tells about sports."

"The comics."

"There are pictures."

"You find out who has died," answered one student, who I recognized as perhaps the youngest obituary reader we have. Children may be more interested in death than we realize.

To the question, "What do you do with a newspaper?" The popular answer was, "You read it." But when I put on a hat made from a newspaper, the young people came up with a long list of other things to do with a newspaper. Line the bird cage, spank the dog, put it down when you paint, wrap garbage in it, stuff it in a box to keep the dishes from breaking, save it for the Boy Scout paper drive, or put a newspaper in the window when the drapes come down. Oh, and "Make paper airplanes," one student added.

I found out that students of all ages use the newspaper in school and in their everyday lives.

Last month this class, along with hundreds of others, participated in "No Books Day," sponsored by the Deseret News and the International Reading Association in Utah. On March 10, the newspaper became the textbook for all the classes. Teachers received teaching aids that covered language arts, social studies, math, science and other subjects. The newspaper became a "living textbook."

More than 38,000 copies of the Deseret News were sent to Utah classrooms for "No Books Day" this year. Students studied, read, clipped, colored and collected information from the newspaper. There were opportunities to study a myriad of school subjects and also receive a slice of recent history. Student interest ran high that day.

A new program called "Family Focus: Reading and Learning Together" is scheduled to begin next fall. Sponsored by the American Newspaper Publishers Association, the International Reading Association, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the the program is designed to teach parents to teach their children through newspaper reading.

Family Focus puts emphasis on good reading habits, improved skills, and awareness of community and nation. Newspapers are the key to success in the reading program because they are so easily accessible to families and because they are proven to be an effective reading tool for people of all ages and reading levels.

Training manuals and parents' resource guides will be available following the introduction of Family Focus at the annual Newspaper in Education conference at Atlanta, Ga., May 18-20.

Yes, you can wrap garbage in a newspaper, but before you do make sure you reap the harvest of learning and enjoyment available to the whole family in its pages.