Like many people, I started my newspaper-reading career as a youngster by reading the comics. I remember following Lil Abner faithfully, and Pogo sticks in my mind (although I'm sure most of the political overtones of such strips were lost on me).
I started with the comics. Eventually, I began looking at pictures and reading headlines and moved on to the occasional news story.I'm not sure I can say that was where my interest in journalism began, or that it was responsible for my increasing interest in faraway places and other peoples. But I'm sure it contributed. I do know my life was broader and richer because the family shared and talked about the newspaper.
And that's an experience we hope children enjoy today. We hope they read some of the comics and look at some of the pictures in the paper. And we think there should be something more - something in the paper just for them. That's one reason we devote one page a week inside the Today Section to material that the kids produce themselves. The Young Ideas page is for children to read - and to encourage them to share their creativity.
In the three years it has been a part of the Today Section, it has become a popular feature both for reading at home and for teachers in the classroom.
A lot of the material submitted for the page comes from classes, says Sherry Madsen, who coordinates the production of the page.
"We get hundreds and hundreds of submissions. And, of course, we can't use them all. We try to balance subject matter and grade levels and use equal amounts from both boys and girls. We try not to use any one school too often."
Madsen calls each school to let the students know their work will appear in the paper. "You'd be amazed how many times a teacher tells me that the recognition was just what that particular student needed at that time. Some students have literally changed because they saw their work in print."
The Young Ideas page is great motivation. "Nothing fosters greater initiative to try than to see your work appreciated. As a teacher, I knew good work often got no farther than the refrigerator door. This is an outlet beyond that."
She says work has come in from schools across the state - from Bloomington to Cache Valley. And she gets things from kids at home who want to send it in on their own. Either way is fine.
Items most often used on the page include poetry, book reviews, crossword puzzles, word searches, art work, essays, stories, tall tales, thoughts for the day, holiday items, movie reviews, recipes, video reviews, letters to editor, jokes and riddles.
Our Young Ideas page has been running in the Wednesday paper because that has been the one sent into the school with our Newspaper in Education program.
However, starting this school year, the Tuesday paper will be the basis for curriculum guides and school lessons, so we will be moving the Young Ideas page to Tuesdays.
The change has come about, says Carolyn Dickson, NIE director, because teachers like to use the food section in math and consumer lessons. When the food section was moved from Wednesday to Tuesday last year to better serve readers and advertisers, the teachers missed this extra teaching tool.
So, beginning this week, watch for Young Ideas on Tuesdays. Encourage your children to read it. And if you - or your children - have any suggestions or comments about what you'd like to see on that page, let us know.