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As newspaper and magazine publishers struggle to go "on-line'' to attract wider readership, two literacy initiatives have pledged a return to the basics to insure that children will be able to read and understand articles in the media--on paper or on a computer screen.

Launched last week, the Magazine Publishers' Literacy Project intends to create a partnership between children's-magazine publishers and community-based literacy organizations to provide free subscriptions to certain publications for children who cannot afford them. Ranger Rick and Sports Illustrated for Kids are two of the magazines already involved in the project.

The magazine publishers' group will encourage individuals and companies to donate gift subscriptions to children and will follow up with community librarians, educators, literacy volunteers, and the International Reading Association to see what effects the children's access to the magazines is producing.

For information write: John Mennell, Magazine Publishers' Literacy Project, P.O. Box 19424, Alexandria, Va. 22320.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, is hoping to cultivate the next generation of newspaper readers with a weekly feature designed to improve reading skills and educate young people about newspapers.

Louis Boccardi, the president and chief executive officer, announced last month at the A.P.'s general meeting in San Francisco that the series, "Read All About It,'' will be available over the wire to all member newspapers beginning in September.

Bill Ahearn, the executive editor, says the series fulfills his long-term goal of improving literacy via the wire service.

A veteran reading teacher in New Haven, Conn., Susan Fineman, will write the articles. They will be, she says, timeless human-interest pieces for 10- to 15-year-old children and will be accompanied by a self-explanatory reading-skills worksheet.

The series is the result of two years of collaboration by Ms. Fineman, the A.P., and the Newspaper Association of America Foundation.

An award-winning new magazine for gifted adolescents is now available on-line through the CompuServe Student Forum.

Young Scholar: The Magazine for High Performance Students was launched last October and has won a design award from the Education Press Association of America. Its editor, Greg Sanders, says its mission is to convey to bright, yet often bored, adolescents that education is a lifelong occupation that occurs everywhere, not just in school.

A one-year subscription costs $14.97. For more information, call (800) 537-4234.--MEGAN DRENNAN

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