Category Archives: Reading

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.

Tonight, Ranger Rick keeps a boy who loves frogs company in a domestic violence shelter

Ranger RickListen

…Oh my goodness, another just heartwarming, wonderful interaction… I just dropped off magazines at a women’s shelter… they happened to be having dinner, and this little boy was talking to the woman I was giving magazines to and she was saying the women love the magazines and this is great…

And, this boy came up and I introduced myself and said, “Hey, how old are you?”… and he said, “I’m in the second grade, but I should be in the third grade.”… and I said, “Do you like magazines?”… and he said, “I LOVE magazines!”… so I said, “Do you like nature?”… and he said, “I DO!”…and so I, of course, ran out to my Jeep, and gave him four Ranger Ricks, because he told me he loves frogs.

Oh my gosh! I almost started crying every time… just because, you know, I think… here he was as part of a family that was part of domestic violence, but yet now, he is just so happy when he sees the magazine and the woman even said to me, “Oh, I’m sure he is going to take them to bed tonight.”… and he has a little brother, so he told me he was going to give his little brother a magazine too!

Dream things that never were and say why not

I was recently asked if the Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project was a person, who would it be?

I choose Robert Kennedy whose inspiration is a driving force for generations to come. It is a humanitarian choice about what he symbolizes as a person, not a partisan or politician, as so eloquently voiced by his brother Senator Edward Kennedy:

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

Some see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not.

This is the essence of our relentless campaign to mobilize citizens, businesses, organizations, and schools, and other literacy champions to find and to feed the children and families hungry to read and succeed in their and our communities… to get magazines into the hands, homes, and hearts of our neighbors who what to learn and love to read.

The Three R’s of Literacy – Read, Recycle, & Reuse

Near Earth Day, 2006, MagazineLiteracy.org launched KinderHarvest, an effort that combines the three R’s of education – reading, writing, and arithmetic – with the three R’s of recycling – reduce, reuse, and recycle – to form the three R’s of literacy:
Read, Recycle, & Reuse.

  • Read – We love to read magazines! Magazines are informative, entertaining, topical, timely, and colorful. Reading magazines produces joy for people of all ages. Magazines are an important resource for teachers and other community literacy agents helping children and adults learn to read.
  • Recycle – Help set up a project in your community to collect recent, gently used magazines. Think of collection points that are convenient for your neighbors, places where people go on a regular and frequent basis, such as the public library, a book or magazine store, a school, church, bank, or supermarket. Ask permission to set up a KinderHarvest magazine literacy collection bin.
  • Reuse – Reach out to community programs that serve young people or adults who would enjoy reading the magazines. Ask them about who and how many children, adults or families they serve and what kinds of magazines would be most helpful, based on needs, interests, gender, and age. So each can receive a magazine in good condition, that they can call their own, and to respect the privacy of donors, carefully remove any mailing labels or cover label information with a black permanent marker. Then put a MagazineLiteracy.org gift label on each magazine and deliver them to the community agencies you have found.

Children and families arrive at homeless and domestic violence shelters with no possessions. Each could receive a wonderful magazine gift from your KinderHarvest project with their very own name on the label. Hundreds of families near every community rely on bags of groceries they receive from food pantries. How wonderful it would be to feed children and families hungry to read and succeed by inserting a magazine in each grocery bag. Be a literacy agent of change in the lives of others by seeking out these programs, early learning programs, after-school mentoring and nutrition programs in your community, understanding their needs and collecting wonderful magazines from your neighbors for reuse.

Be a magazine literacy champion!

Today I was invited to do a podcast interview… more on that in another post. It got me thinking, if I had just a few minutes to reach out with our most important message, it would be this: Be a literacy champion in your own community by finding literacy programs that are working hard every day to teach children and families how to learn and love to read. Ask them what their needs are. What materials and subjects will inspire these new readers? Then organize your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues to adopt these readers and to supply them with interesting, enjoyable magazines. I was called by a woman yesterday who wanted to do this very thing for children in a foster care group home. As often happens in this wonderful business, without realizing it, I’m sure, she said something to me that I will never forget. She mentioned that, in working with these foster children, she was amazed how many arrive without being able to read and then learn to read well in front of her very eyes. So, be a magazine literacy champion in your own community, like this woman.