Weekly Reader still source of inspiration for schoolchildren
As a pigtailed schoolgirl growing up in the ’80s, the Weekly Reader was my modern-day InStyle magazine. I couldn’t get enough of what was on every page and eagerly anticipated the next issue. I loved to scan the educational publication, first taking in all the colorful pictures and illustrations, then reading about all the intriguing people, places and things outside of my red brick elementary school in rural Indiana. Back then, the world outside New Palestine seemed like a magical place that could only be seen by riding on a giant peach or in a sleigh alongside Santa.The Weekly Reader was the brainchild of renowned reading expert Eleanor Johnson, a director of elementary schools in York, Pa. She published the first edition in September 1928 for fourth grade students. By 1959, kindergarten through sixth-grade students were Weekly Reader aficionados. Today, Weekly Reader is considered the leading classroom periodical publisher for more than 7 million elementary schoolchildren in 50,000 schools.Imagine my reminiscent delight when I received a note from Mrs. Mekis of Kathryn Senor Elementary in New Castle detailing a class project her students are pursuing. According to the letter, the kids in her 6.0 Success For All Wings reading group were “very moved by a Weekly Reader article titled ‘Crisis in Sudan.'” The article described children and their families in Sudan surrounded by a war between the country’s government, and the janjaweed gang and rebel groups. Children have become refugees, and their schools have been destroyed and burned to the ground.After reading about the Sudan situation, Mrs. Mekis’ students decided to collect school supplies often taken for granted in the United States, such as pencils, notebooks, crayons, markers, drawing paper, scissors, and glue. They will continue their efforts until Monday, Nov. 22, in hopes that the package of supplies will reach children in Sudan by Thanksgiving. What a wonderful idea, I thought to myself. And all this because of a beloved weekly children’s publication that has stood the test of time. So the next time I flip through a copy of InStyle or my boyfriend’s Maxim, maybe I’ll be inspired to try and make this world a better place. You never know how far a good read can take you.April E. Clark is a magazine junkie who takes advantage of grocery store lines to quickly read as many cover stories as time allows. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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