Our literacy success depends on investments of treasure, time, and talent. With a growing market of over 7,000 print titles in the US alone, matching every reading age, enthusiasm, professional aspiration, and language, magazines for literacy are more precious than gold.
This year we received over a half-million magazines upcycled by consumers, publishers, and newsstands, and put them into the hands and homes of 250,000+ at-risk child, teen, and adult readers, coast to coast, and overseas. There is so much more to do to reach our literacy promise.
Over a billion magazines are printed each year in the USA, enough laid end to end to circle the earth almost 8 times or to stretch near to the moon. We know we need to reach tens of millions of at-risk readers with every copy we can rescue. The heavy lifting of receiving, sorting, and packing the magazines for delivery to literacy programs is done by a virtuous army of volunteers. It’s a heavy literacy lift well worth the end result – smiles on the faces of new readers, many with zero books at home, and poor access to media for education or enjoyment.
Thank you to all the hundreds of volunteers who make our literacy mission possible. We succeed on the shoulders of hundreds more who came before. When I think about what we do at MagLiteracy.org – operating the only Literacy Bank network in the world, and why we do it – to share the literacy love that eradicates poverty of the mind, heart, and pocket to change lives for good, Ken Johnson, who runs our Wisconsin office, is spot on with this excerpted story about stewardship and his own journey.
As a volunteer, I manage the Madison office of MagLiteracy.org, a national nonprofit organization that distributes magazines donated by publishers and individuals to community organizations that help improve literacy for children and other at-risk readers.
MagLiteracy was first launched in Madison by John Mennell. He was drawn to this cause out of concern that over two-thirds of families in poverty have no books at home. As he puts it so well, “literacy can help end poverty of the mind, heart and pocket.”
I was drawn to this organization by memories of magazines I received as a child: Boys’ Life, with its stories of “Scouts in Action” that led me to imagine performing great acts of heroism myself. Model Railroader, with its pictures of imaginary towns created in intricate detail in model train layouts. Sport Magazine, where I could find out what Willie Mays liked for breakfast. Even in a world where so much information flickers across a screen, there is still something enduring and powerful about the written word and a child discovering the joys of reading a book or magazine that’s theirs to hold and keep.
Large quantities of magazines are printed, and many are never sold, so can be rescued new or lightly used to educate, inspire, and entertain about almost any subject… MagLiteracy now has outposts in several states and ships magazines to the needy, worldwide.
After a hiatus during the pandemic, our Madison office reopened last June, and we are on pace to distribute 17,000 magazines and little magazine books in 2021. A few examples: Last summer every Madison elementary school student enrolled in summer school received a magazine. The River Food Pantry distributes our magazines along with free lunches to children in low-income neighborhoods on Madison’s east side during the summer and on other days when school is not in session. We partnered with nine childcare organizations across Wisconsin to distribute over 7,000 little magazine books to preschoolers this fall. We also serve adults through organizations like Porchlight and the Badger Prairie Needs Network.
Like many of you who volunteer, my path to it was opened by others. MagLiteracy depends on the generosity of volunteers and many organizations that believe in this cause. If you would like to know more, please let me know and please visit our website: