I took a few roads less traveled today thanks to a massive nor’easter that dumped record amounts of rainfall. For two hours I struggled to drive what is usually about 25 minutes to get from one side of town to the other – just twelve miles. Bridges were out at every turn as I made my way north along a river road. I persisted though, first north, then circling back south until I finally found a single open crossing. So the first lesson today reinforced the value of sticking to your goals, working tirelessly, and probing options, until success is at hand.
During the trip, since traffic wasn’t moving well in any direction, I decided to park and run into the bank. I walked right past a gentleman who, although there were few others around braving the wet, windy, cold weather, was sitting half bundled and rain soaked on a park bench in front a favorite local magazine stand. I noticed the man, but as is not uncommon with our hurried lives, I scrambled past him without acknowledgement – in fact, unwilling to notice. Still in a hurry when I left the bank, I walked past him again in the other direction. I could only take about ten steps this time though, and then turned back to greet the man. I asked him if he would like a cup of coffee. “Yes,” he said. “With cream and sugar?” “Yes, four sugars,” he replied. I walked back a couple of blocks to a coffee shop for a cup of coffee, sugar, cream, and a bagel. I brought these to the man on the bench. I looked him in the eye and asked him his name. “Louie,” he said. “Hello, my name is John,” I replied. I was glad to make Louie’s acquaintance in the storm.
I finally made it across to my destination. At that moment, the torrential rain stopped.
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.
More than 85 million adults in the U.S. have low or very low literacy skills. These adults were once children who did not get the chance to learn how to read. In schools today, 1 in 3 children overall lack basic reading skills, with 2 in 3 falling short of reading proficiency. The disparity between children in poverty and their better off peers is even larger. When those who qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch program are considered, which includes children in families with incomes up to twice the national poverty rate, half of these children lack basic reading skills and only 1 in 6 reads at a proficient level. A child cannot do well in any school subject or in life without learning how to read. An illiterate adult cannot read a job application or a cereal box. Help us put magazines into the hands, homes and hearts of children and families learning to reading.
I was recently having coffee with a wonderful woman who reached out to invest her time to help grow MagazineLiteracy.org. Every year, she organizes a music recital with the proceeds supporting a charitable cause in her community. She said that the next recital would, in a “small” way support literacy needs in her community by sending magazines to children and families learning to read. I was glad for this generous idea, but explained that there is no such thing as small when it comes to acts of kindness. When you plant a seed in your own backyard, a big and mighty oak will grow that will provide joy and protection for countless children and families. From that oak hundreds more seeds will fall to sprout in the minds and hearts of individuals in countless communities. So every bit that each person contributes is big… and the smiles on children’s faces are huge… and the gladness and gratefulness in the hearts of moms and dads whose children learn and love to read is tremendous.
According to Edutopia, even as books take a back seat to technology, reading is more important than ever in an increasingly complicated, information-rich world. Basic literacy no longer suffices. In higher education and the workplace, young people must handle an array of complex texts — narratives, repair manuals, scholarly journals, maps, graphics, and more — across technologies. They need to evaluate, synthesize, and communicate effectively.
Unfortunately, more than 8 million U.S. students in grades 4-12 struggle to read, write, and comprehend adequately. Only three out of ten eighth graders read at or above grade level, according to the 2004 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Readers who fall significantly behind risk school and workplace failure. In 2003, only three-fourths of high school students graduated in four years, the National Center for Education Statistics reports; the previous year, just over half of African American and Hispanic students graduated at all.
According to LiteracyNews.com, new figures on how often family members read to their children ages 1 to 5 underscore the importance of expanding early childhood literacy awareness among families and caregivers in lower income communities, said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit children and family literacy organization.
“I wanna go to school so bad. I wanna read,” Ivan said excitedly on the first day of school.
ABC News: Waiting on the World to Change
View this compelling ABC News story on poverty in America: Waiting on the World to Change
Ivan Prays for a Superman to Find Him a Home.
In a park, the “20/20” team met Ivan Stevens; his mother, Precious; and his little brother, Imere. Sometimes they spent the whole day dirty, hungry and homeless, with no place to go.
The owner of an illegal boarding house occasionally gave them a place to sleep. He padlocked the refrigerator to keep them from taking food, and all three of them slept on one chair, surrounded by clutter and roaches.
Ivan wished he could be Superman and fly on someone’s back to find his family a home. “Superman” had also heard of kindergarten.
According to LiteracyNews.com, Teachers of grades K-12 spend on average $475 of their own money on classroom materials and supplies annually, with elementary school teachers spending a significantly higher amount ($539) compared to middle ($393) and high ($427) school teachers. These and other key findings can be found in a new report, Teacher Buying Behavior 2006-2007, from Quality Education Data, Inc.
QED’s Teacher Buyer Behavior also asked educators about the types of materials they need the most for their classrooms. Thirty-eight percent of all teachers report needing materials that support differentiated instruction; middle school teachers (45%) are significantly more likely to report needing these types of materials compared to elementary (37%) and high (32%) school teachers. Elementary school teachers (19%) are significantly more likely to report needing non-fiction trade for their classroom compared to middle (8%) and high (9%) school teachers.
When you think of magazines and groceries, the first thing that might come to mind are those celebrities looking out at you from the magazine rack in the supermarket checkout line. Recently MagazineLiteracy.org has had a chance to put magazines and groceries together to feed children and families who are both hungry for food, and hungry to read.
Continue reading “KinderHarvest – magazines and groceries come together to feed kids hungry to read”
The following are moving and compelling first hand accounts of Hurricane Katrina written by children whose homes, communities, and whose Boys and Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast were destroyed by the storm. Please support our Kids Magazine Airlift to help these children rebuild their Boys and Girls Clubs and their lives. With your support, we’ll send wonderful children’s magazines to over 675 children in the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast.
Continue reading “Katrina Stories from Gulf Coast Children – the Boys and Girls Clubs Rebuild”
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast
Stacie J., a successful entrepreneur, fashion model, and actor, who appeared on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice TV show, today joined with teachers and 4th grade students in the after-school program at PS 242 in Harlem, New York to celebrate Reading is Fashionable, a campaign that engages the fashion and style industries to help promote and spread the joy of reading to children and families.
Stacie, who owns a nearby Subway sandwich shop, and is serving as a national spokesmodel for the Reading is Fashionable campaign, donated a school-year subscription to TIME FOR KIDS news magazine to the school for each child in the after-school program. In a scene reminiscent of a bulb-flashing press conference, the students acted as “reporters” interviewing Stacie about her life, work and interests.
Stacie spoke to the children, encouraging them to find their passion, to study hard, and to stay in school so they could reach their goals. The students asked many questions and noted their own desires to one day become models, doctors, dancers, and teachers.
Illiteracy easily crosses from one generation to the next. Children raised in homes where parents and other family members have poor reading skills are less likely to have the reading materials and encouragement they need to reinforce solid reading habits. Adults who cannot read were once children who did not get a chance to learn how. A child who cannot read is a child lost. Family literacy programs confront this social challenge.
Children experience enormous intellectual growth in their early years. The ability to read is mission critical to learning any and every school subject. Children need to read well to do well in language arts, science, social studies, and even math. Learning to read in the earliest grades is most important. Even the vast knowledge that is a click away on the World Wide Web can only be fully accessed by good readers. Teaching kids to read helps to break the vicious cycle of family illiteracy.
A teacher wrote me today about a boy helped by MagazineLiteracy.org. It’s a precious story about the human spirit, and about helping, happiness, and hope that cannot hold a pricetag.
Magazines from our program arrived at this teacher’s school for her students, but she asked the kids to leave them at school until the next day when they could take them home. One of the children pleaded to take the copy home if he promised to bring it back the next day. He just couldn’t put the magazine down. Of course, she said yes! The boy took the magazine home and the next day came and told the teacher about all the things he had read – cover to cover.
I remember my own childhood days spent reading magazines, cover to cover, and how I learned so much, and had so much joy. With your help, our program spreads the same joy to many children. We are feeding children hungry to read so they may have a better life now and later, and so their own children will have a better life.
So thank you for your interest in our program and generous support and for reaching out to others.
Godspeed to you and yours this holiday season.
We were so pleased to be invited to the Folio:Show in New York City this week where we showcased MagazineLiteracy.org to thousands of magazine industry stakeholders. It truly takes an industry to reach a child. We met so many wonderful people and garnered so much heartfelt interest and support for our initiative. We thank the Folio:Show and everyone who offered to help us feed children hungry to read.
I was listening to the radio this evening and was touched by a story about how small towns swept away by Hurricane Katrina are already rebuilding… it emphasized the need people have to be home, even when that home is a tent, and the bond that people feel when reunited with their neighbors in their own communities… the story ended with a simple, but powerful plea…”send more help to little towns like Pearlington, Mississippi.”
It’s a reminder that, for weeks, and months after the urgent basic needs are met, people are left to rebuild their lives. These people will continue to need our help to make their lives as whole as possible, and we must do everything we can to remember them and to be there for them.
We marked our one-year anniversary with great sadness in the wake of hundreds lives shattered by Hurricane Katrina, but with an even greater sense of responsibility and resolve. With over 200,000 children left homeless and on the move to shelters and new schools, on top of 1,000,000 children who seek safety at family homeless and domestic violence shelters at some point each year, often arriving without any possessions, as well as the thousands of teachers and other literacy agents in need of reading materials, the Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project, and MagazineLiteracy.org are more compelling and timely than ever before.
Our mission is to match generous individual and business sponsors with literacy programs serving children in schools, shelters, and other community programs. We have worked hard over the past year to establish the relationships that empower us to succeed.
Thanks to generous supporters and wonderful literacy agents, we have launched programs that put magazines in childrens’ hands every month. We continue to add wonderful children’s magazines to our portfolio, so children in every age group can have access to every title available. The consumer magazine industry has been supportive with display advertising and invitations to participate in national conferences, where we can mobilize stakeholders. We have joined with the Association of Educational Publishers to promote Children’s Magazine Month in October each year.
So, although there is great sadness today, tomorrow brings opportunity and hope for marshalling the resolve and support and the generosity necessary to touch the lives of countless children hungry to read magazines. Join us. Thank you and godspeed.
One of the most important goals of the Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project is to promote family literacy – to help children and families experience and enjoy reading together. We are so glad to have the opportunity to bring literacy agents and generous sponsors together to help kids and families. Here’s what parents surveyed by one of our community literacy agents have to say…
“My child enjoys the magazine very much. I think it’s wonderful that
they (the sponsors) have provided it for families, and I thank them.”
“My daughter enjoys the articles, so she reads more.”
“We really don’t have a favorite (story/article). They are all good.”
“My son likes to sit down and read the stories over and over again.”
“He shares the magazines with me (the parent) as well as his brothers”
“I feel this is a great resource.”
“The stories are fresh and new. The picture finds are great.”
“Nice magazine with good stories.”
“Thank you, my daughter enjoys the magazine very much.”
“This magazine is very age appropriate. She enjoys the stories very much.”
Our wonderful teacher/literacy agent at Moraine Meadows Elementary School has provided an inspiring report on how they are using Spider magazine in their classroom. Special thanks to Pretium Partners, Inc. and the Kettering Noon Optimists Club for making these vital reading resources available to their school.
Continue reading “Spider a Hit at Moraine Meadows Elementary School”
Here’s what she has to say…
Link – These are emotionally charged times for the magazine industry, a period of much hand-wringing over the future of the medium as it faces the threats of the internet and cable and lord knows whatever new challengers may arise. It’s also a time of self-examination, one in which the industry is examining not just the magazine’s effectiveness as an advertising medium but more and more its essential relationship with its readers. And that suits Rex Hammock just fine.
Welcome to the blog of MagazineLiteracy.org. My name is Shawn Lea and I look forward to starting a conversation in the blogosphere of the importance of community involvement and child literacy – and the role that we hope to play in your community.
MagazineLiteracy.org aims to connect community sponsors with outlets in the community that need help promoting literacy for children…schools, homeless shelters, community health centers and others. We will then provide wonderful children’s magazines free of charge to those that would otherwise not be able to afford them. If you need more information about being a sponsor or being sponsored, contact us.
Margaret Mead reminded us that a small group of thoughtful people is all that ever changed the world – and we are ready. But we need your help. If you were one of the lucky kids whose parents could afford a magazine subscription for you, you will remember the joy of the arrival of the subscription with your name on it. We are working to provide that joy to all kids. Please help us.