Category Archives: Literacy Links

Who, What, Where, When, Why magazines for literacy?

At MagazineLiteracy.org, we love to celebrate the amazing work being done at the literacy agencies that help us to get the magazines you love into the hands, hearts, and homes of children and families who want to learn and love to read them. Books are vital for reading and literacy, but here are some stories that explain why new and recycled magazines are so special. Here is some compelling feedback from the Sojourner House transitional housing program in Roxbury, Massachusetts:

Katie,

Thank you so much for the service you provide to the children and their parents here at Sojourner House. The families love receiving magazines from you each month. Many of the school-aged children are overwhelmed by books because of their length, as well as the lack of pictures. The magazines that you bring each month provide a way for the children, who otherwise would not read, to be engaged in reading, which is so crucial in their ability to do well in school. They love having colored pictures to go along with what they’re reading. One of the boys at the shelter loves to draw characters from some of the comic books you bring, and he writes stories to go along with his drawings. I am thrilled that his love of reading comics has given him the desire to use his imagination and write his own stories.

The younger children love the magazines as well. The magazines you bring to the shelter, such as High Five, contain short stories that the child and an adult can read together, which encourages parent-child bonding and is so important for a young child’s growth. One of the girls at the shelter loves to do the activities, such as “Hidden Pictures.” She brings a magazine with her when she goes out, which gives her something engaging to do in the car. I’m confident that it’s helping her build skills that will help her once she begins school.

Not only are the magazines you bring us each month beneficial to the children, but the consumer magazines give the parents something to do, which they really appreciate. One of the parents showed me an article she read about healthy eating that she wanted to share with her teenage daughter. The consumer and teen magazines have many great articles that are very relevant to the lives of the guests who live at the shelter.

Once again, thank you for your encouragement of literacy at the shelter. I hope you will continue to bring magazines to various places that are in need of magazines, including our shelter.

Brenda German
Child Advocate
Sojourner House

And from the Boston Family Shelter

Since Katie started dropping off magazines to our shelter the children really enjoy reading the magazines. When Katie stops by the shelter and drops off the magazines I put labels on them with the child’s name on them to make the magazine personalized. Katie – thank you for the labels. All the children love the magazines. Even though some of the children have moved into housing they still come back to the shelter to look for the magazines.

Anthony is a 9 year old third grade boy that resides at the Boston Family Shelter. He was in the shelter for about 2 years. Anthony has been reading below grade level for the past 2 years. He is an excellent reader – he just can not comprehend what he reads.

The first day Anthony received his magazine he said, “Wow!” “Cool!” He began to start reading as soon as he picked the magazine. I was so surprised to see him reading, because he always told me how much he hates to read. About two days later, Anthony told me how he would read his magazine at school during quiet time, and he would let his friends read the magazines also.  Anthony reads to his 3 year old sister Jade more often, and now he is comfortable reading out loud.

The magazines have given Anthony more confidence. Before the magazines Anthony would skip over words instead of sounding them out. Now, when he reads, he sounds out the words. Even though Anthony is going to summer school, his reading grade level for the last term went from a D to a B+. That is a great improvement.

Anthony’s mother is extremely happy to see he is finally starting to read. Sometimes it is still hard to get him to read a book. When Anthony goes to the library, he takes out magazines.

This new beginning is a absolutely amazing for Anthony. We hope Anthony will continue to improve the next school year.  We at the Boston Family Shelter would like to thank Katie and all organizations that donate magazines to our shelter.

And another from the West End House Boys & Girls Club

Hi Katie,

I just wanted to drop you a line & thank you so very much for the continuing donations of great magazines to our Club!

There is tremendous variety, great content & lots of fun for the kids who enjoy them here & I have used them both as the focus of different programs & as supplemental backdrop for general literacy.

Since you began bringing us magazines for different age groups, they can be found on every floor in the building & in every program-area of the Club.

The medium of “magazine is an interesting way of engaging kids in reading and learning. Somehow it’s non-threatening to pick up, with no obligation to finish, & you look cool while browsing & smart if you’re deeply involved in an article. Also easy to share – I’ve repeatedly seen kids call out to their friends to “come check this out!” and soon there is a circle of young people all wanting to see!

Thanks for your dedication to the kids here at the West End House Boys & Girls Club & we all look forward to the next “drop”!

No silver lining in demise of Reading Rainbow

Recent news about the financial demise of Reading Rainbow, one of PBS’s most popular and important literacy programs for children for over 25 years is a dark cloud with no silver lining. However, there are important lessons about the need for literacy projects to not only invite and inspire children and families to want to enjoy reading, but also to focus on teaching young people how to read. We are saddened by the loss of this great program, and will no less celebrate the joy of reading, but will redouble our efforts to know and to apply lessons about reading fundamentals to our magazine literacy work.

Getting back to reading basics to rebuild a prosperous society

We have all heard “give a person a fish and you feed them for a day… teach them to fish and you feed them for life.” I say, “first you need to feed a person, so they have the strength and the dignity to learn how to fish… next, you need to teach them to read.”

Although I’ve been deeply involved in community and public policy and public service for many decades, I don’t usually comment on education or literacy policy. There are certainly more than enough experts and pundits, and we strive to be a literacy “big tent” – remaining non-partisan in our public service.

Our mission at MagazineLiteracy.org is to leverage our talent and resources to facilitate the flow of reading materials from their varied and generous sources to new readers, not to reinvent the literacy wheels that are already well in motion or to overlap or to presume the needs of expert literacy agents.

However, the intensity of the current economic calamity and the impending dam burst of government and public financing and leadership necessary to reverse it and restore any semblance of balance drives me to underscore the obvious importance of getting back to and sticking with the basics, such as teaching children to read, and getting reading materials into homes with barren bookshelves.

The task will be that much more challenging, but no less important, as public service agents struggle to meet even more critical needs, like food for hungry children, families, and elderly neighbors. As consumers limit spending to necessities, and commerce slows, leading to more layoffs, the already frayed safety net of emergency food, shelter, and health care will be stretched to the breaking point.

If literacy and reading skills are the most basic ingredient for success and productivity in every corner of society, then it’s too easy, but terribly painful now to ask why so many children and adults in the U.S. and around the world cannot read well enough. Even with so much riding on the wave of a digital economy, the fastest growing e-commerce opportunities are around text messaging. No matter how many pages the internet grows to, no matter how many books Google digitizes, no matter how many magazines are available on the Kindle, not one can be read by a child or an adult unable to read.

Join our mission to feed children and families hungry to read and succeed.

Tremendous forces rock our world of magazine literacy

It’s timely to reflect on the tremendous forces and upheavals in the economic, political, and community landscapes that are shaping the ecosystem for our magazine literacy mission. Financial markets are down – then up – then down again. Government, education, human, and community services face enormous funding gaps that demand doing more with less. Within this context, the value of our new and recycled magazines increases significantly for teachers and other community literacy agents helping children and families who want to learn and love to read. Getting reading materials into homes becomes even more imperative as the fabric of safety net wears thin. On the other hand, citizen engagement and activism are way up, thanks to a sweeping non-partisan, national call to public service that will amplify in coming months. Our challenge is to improve our capabilities and collaboration to better inventory and spotlight literacy needs, while channeling and focusing the generous outpouring of compassion and support to meet those needs. Help us to find and feed those hungry to read. Join us to change the world – one magazine – one new reader at a time.

Literacy is a matter of life and death

This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Northwestern University.

Low Literacy Equals Early Death Sentence

CHICAGO — Not being able to read doesn’t just make it harder to navigate each day. Low literacy impairs people’s ability to obtain critical information about their health and can dramatically shorten their lives.

A new study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine shows that older people with inadequate health literacy had a 50 percent higher mortality rate over five years than people with adequate reading skills. Inadequate or low health literacy is defined as the inability to read and comprehend basic health-related materials such as prescription bottles, doctor appointment slips and hospital forms.

Low health literacy was the top predictor of mortality after smoking, also surpassing income and years of education, the study showed. Most of the difference in mortality among people with inadequate literacy was due to higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease.

“It’s a matter of life or death,” said David Baker, M.D., lead author of the study and chief of general internal medicine at the Feinberg School and at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The excess number of deaths among people with low literacy was huge. The magnitude of this shocked us.”

“When patients can’t read, they are not able to do the things necessary to stay healthy,” Baker noted. “They don’t know how to take their medications correctly, they don’t understand when to seek medical care, and they don’t know how to care for their diseases. Baker thinks this is why they are much more likely to die.

The study was published in Archives of Internal Medicine July 23.

More than 75 million adults in the United States have only basic or below basic health literacy, according to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.

“There is a certain minimum set of reading skills that are required to be able to do the things that you’re expected to do as a patient,” Baker said. “And if someone is below that level, bad things are going to happen.”

A birthday gift of literacy paid forward

audubon_cover.jpgThere is a story in my family of a patriarch who would give his mom a gift on his birthday. This represents a classic pay it forward celebration of unselfish gratitude for the gifts that others have given to us from the time we were born and throughout our lives. Literacy is a gift instilled by deliberate and caring mentors – especially our parents and teachers. Recently, I made a couple of visits to my parents to celebrate their back-to-back birthdays. I left their home arms full with a box and a grocery bag of magazines in mint condition – Audubon, George, and Popular Science – a particular favorite of mine that launched countless dreams of invention for this young reader. These magazines will be recycled by KinderHarvest to children and families in homeless and domestic violence shelters so they may know a bit of that same joy. Happy birthday mom and dad.

Kindergarten KinderHarvest Coast to Coast

We now have two kindergarten teachers, Ron in San Francisco and Katie in Boston, organizing KinderHarvest efforts with or for their students, giving us coast to coast activity and representing the awesome power of single individuals who take it upon themselves to make a difference. The amazing thing as that each teacher jumped into action within 24 hours of getting in touch with MagazineLiteracy.org, and as you will see below, have put together comprehensive plans for finding lots of magazines to recycle for literacy. They are wonderfully relentless! Our Boston teacher has connected with another great KinderHarvest leader in Boston, Katie Simmons, forming a collaboration that is already fueling both their efforts.

Here’s an excerpt from our Magazine Literacy Bee blog about Ron’s effort in San Francisco:

Hi everyone! …I teach kindergarten in San Francisco. Recently, my class has been doing a lot of science work in the area of ecology and recycling, so I was trying to figure out a good field trip to support that… last Saturday I hooked up with VolunteerMatch.com and posted that I was interested in helping the environment. Right away they had me linked with the KinderHarvest program, which provides a route for helping us get our schools’ and families’ “gently used” magazines to local homeless kids and youth… we are currently looking into local programs that service homeless kids and families. I even mentioned KinderHarvest to my students yesterday at dismissal time, and they seemed genuinely enthusiastic to get involved. It’s very exciting to think that my students will be getting a unique, hands-on experience in helping reuse products, and thus “saving the earth” in their own small way. Also, they will get the added bonus of actually being able to help in some small way those who need it, which I am sure will be a real awareness-raiser as time goes on.

Here is what Katie, the Boston kindergarten teacher reports:

I would also like to focus on generating magazines for food banks and shelters… Here are some of my ideas for how to gather as many magazines as possible… I have good friends who work at schools that they would be willing to contact their parents’ families about it… I have a friend who works at a local hospital, so I’m sure she’d be able collect a lot of children’s magazines… the library is right across the street from me, so I will check in with them to see if the librarians would be willing to contribute magazines… I have collected quite a stack of extra new and gently used Scholastic magazines over the past year that I would be willing to donate… I will scout out nearby grocery/convenience stores with good collections of children’s magazines…

Here are some ideas from Katie Simmons, a Boston KinderHarvest leader:

I’ve begun to reach out to shelters and foodbanks in my area, and a local Boys & Girls club has expressed interest in receiving magazine – especially with the summer months coming… I have a preschool teacher friend who agreed to have a collection bin. Many of the parents have older children so I am hoping they have subscriptions to donate… I have a friend who is an elementary school principal who will share Highlights magazines… I have made contact with the Children’s Room at the library, which agreed to share their older magazines for children. I picked up Ladybug, Babybug, Cricket and Cobbletone… I have a contact at a nearby hospital that receives monthly mags that would just get tossed or recycled, so she said I am welcome to come by an get them… I will also ask a friend in the suburbs who is part of a babysitting co-op, to email her huge audience to request magazine donations… I would think supermarkets and pharmacies would be a great places to set up a magazine drive!

Let’s get going in all the communities between Boston and San Francisco, and between Chicago and New Orleans!