Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Promoting Literacy with Children's Magazines

Ever wonder why doctors (lawyers, beauty shops…) always have magazines? They want to keep our minds off the waiting. What better way to distract us – pictures, interesting bits of info, new ideas – all packaged for a quick read and surefire distraction. Better than glaring at the receptionist :)

But the magazines offer us more than distraction. I've seldom wished for a longer wait, but there are times when I've wished I could finish an interesting article. Magazines are built to draw us in and capture our attention.

Children’s magazines are designed to do this, too – just what we want for our reluctant readers. There are lots of quality magazines for children and there are lots of reasons to have them available for our young readers.

Monday's post, Top Magazines for Kids: Part 1, suggested 15 magazines for your child to consider. Next week, I'll suggest 15 more. But these lists are just a sampling. Check with your school and town librarians for other ideas 
Or, try Googling your child's interest, followed by magazine.

Many of the ideas included in today’s post came from these 2 sources: Children’s Magazines for Literacy  and Book ChookBoth sites are worth checking out for more information.

  • The format of children’s magazine invites us to explore – pictures, headings, graphics – these all make reading seem less like of a chore and more like fun.
  • Magazines are less intimidating for young readers and engaging for all ages.
  • Magazines are great for teaching kids the elements of visual literacy: maps, text boxes, tables, illustrations, graphs, pie charts, labels, captions, cartoons, and diagrams. Learning to make sense of these elements is a great thing to do together.
  • Magazines build our store of knowledge, plus give us lots of info to share, which is such great fun.
  • Magazines provide a way to explore areas beyond our personal experience. Think about it, would you rather learn something new by reading several pages of text in a book or by scanning and reading a picture-dense magazine?
  • Magazines demystify complex and dense content by using callouts, speech bubbles, pull quotes, and other design devices.
  • Magazines offer us a chance to be exposed to new forms of literature – short stories, poems, photo-essays, reviews, and non-fiction.
  • Magazines are able to combine an informal tone with serious information.
  • Magazines have images of children who are the age of the readers themselves, which create a sense this is about me.
  • Magazines are more up-to-date than most books, including textbooks, and so can give more current information than a book that takes over a year to become published.

  • Read aloud time – there will be lots to read, discuss, predict (What do you think this picture is about?)
  • On car trips – consider having a rotating stack that is only for the car
  • Waiting times (before the school bus comes, at the doctor’s office, before dinner…)
  • During homework breaks
  • At breakfast and snack times
  • While the TV is on – kids are often better at multi-tasking than we are
  • During computer time – many magazines also have an online component

  • Start with current passions (bikes, animals, mummies…)
  • Expand into less passionate interests
  • Consider some adult magazines. You can look at them together and read the captions and some excerpts from the articles.
  • Go to the library and browse – most libraries let you check out magazines that are not the most current ones. This is a great way to see what you like before committing to a subscription.

I hope I’ve convinced you that magazines are a great literacy resource. In the next couple Monday book posts, I’ll give some suggestions for magazines to consider. Already found some magazines you like? Please write them in the Comments Box!

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