Dear Reader... Introducing Portal Magazine

By Rachel Roseberry, Manager, Young Adult Literacy Programs
July 22, 2021

NYPL’s Teen Reading Ambassadors program brings together 10th–12th grade students from across New York City to learn about the Library and help further its mission to inspire lifelong learning in others, particularly young children. To learn more visit our Teen Reading Ambassadors web page

Hello! We’re the 2021 cohort of Teen Reading Ambassadors. We met virtually in the spring and created a magazine for kids like you named Portal because we believe that books and libraries can be portals, or windows, to exciting new worlds!

In this issue of our magazine, we have short stories, fun facts, activities, comics, and more all about New York City. You can hop aboard a magical pigeon that transports you from Central Park to Chinatown, take a time-traveling adventure through Staten Island history, or read an interview with a real-life librarian who works at the main building of The New York Public Library (the one with the lions!). We think our magazine is pretty cool and we hope you read it. 

To encourage you to read our magazine and visit the library, we’ve written you some special notes—just from us to you. No adults allowed. Happy reading!

Read Portal here.
 

Dear reader,

Our world is filled with stories. New and old stories, familiar and strange stories, short and intimidatingly long stories, the list goes on. There are millions of stories today and millions more to come. If you really think about it, whether you decide to tell it to the world or not, your life is its own wonderful story. My favorite part about reading is discovering the surprises in every story I read; new places, people, and perspectives that I would've never imagined myself. As you read this magazine, I hope that you become inspired to recognize the beauty within each story of our city and come to more deeply appreciate the uniqueness of your own! 

Your friend,
Anna, 10th Grade, Brooklyn

Dear reader, 

Sometimes reading is boring. I think reading is sometimes boring too. But our magazine? It’s a different type of interesting. It's SO interesting that you would miss an ice cream truck just to keep reading. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying the ice cream I’m eating right now. 

Your friend, 
Depa, 11th Grade, Bronx

Dear reader,

What do you guys plan to do this summer? I bet most of you said video games because I will be too. But I will also be doing lots of reading during the summer! Books are like a video game where you get to imagine you are in it. How cool is that? So what do you think? Put down those video games for a couple hours each day and go grab that book! Start your own adventure! 

Your friend
Tony, 11th Grade, Brooklyn

Dear reader, 

Do you remember the last time you read a book you enjoyed? Perhaps you haven’t found your book. We know there’s something for you in store. Enjoy the fun of puzzles and stories containing all there is to learn about New York. Be inspired and figure out what it is about your community that you find unique. Maybe on your next visit to the library, you can find the book that’s fit for you.

Your friend,
Yesenia, 11th Grade, Manhattan

Querido lector,

Cuándo fue la última vez que leíste un libro que te gustó? Podría ser que no has encontrado el libro que te guste. Sabemos que hay un libro para ti. Disfrute de las actividades e historias conteniendo todo lo que puedes aprender sobre Nueva York. Inspírate y aprende lo que es único sobre tu comunidad. Quizás la próxima vez que visites la biblioteca, encuentres el libro que es perfecto para ti.

Tu amiga,
Yesenia, Grado 11, Manhattan

Dear reader, 

Have you done everything that there is to be done? Do you really know it all? You may be surprised to hear that there are millions of things you haven’t done, to be more specific, there are millions of books you haven’t read. Now, now, hear me out. I know, I know—ugh, books. But look, books can be great, books can be magic, and books can be boring, too. But if you look closer—if you look in the right direction, books can be your open doors or your secret adventures, they can be bridges for you to share or they can be the only friends you need. Books are only what you make of them, and I hope you’ll give them a chance. I promise, if you open a book, you’ll see words waiting to be read, pages waiting to be turned, a world waiting to be explored, and a conclusion that you haven’t reached. There are so many things you haven’t seen yet—haven’t thought of yet, and I bet you can’t even think of half of them. Give it a try, even just one page, just one word, just one cover. I bet you will like even just one book. 

Your friend, 
Jessica, 12th Grade, Brooklyn

Dear reader,

When I was younger, I used to dream about fantastical worlds, interstellar experiences, superhero missions, and mystical tales. Spending time at my local library and opening up some of my favorite books, I was able to explore them in my own wonderful ways! Reading has always been my portal to another world, and I hope that our magazine works the same magic on you that reading worked on me growing up. My recommendation is that you sit back, relax, listen to some music or sit in the summer breeze, and open up our magazine to let it transport you with just the flip of a page!

Your friend,
Marian, 11th Grade, Queens

Dear reader, 

I know reading can be boring. Trust me, I’ve been there. I remember my mom forcing me to read books for school so I wouldn’t get a zero on my assignment. I remember dreading the idea of sitting still for so long. I remember hating to read. Until one day I realized the power a book gave me. I was able to go to any place I wanted just by sitting in my room and flipping through pages. I was able to imagine myself as a superhero, an adventurer, or someone in love. It was like I was living a different life through the words of a smelly book. So instead of convincing yourself reading isn’t fun, give it a chance and change your mindset. Look at reading as a fun escape from boring life, rather than a chore. You’ll be surprised at what you find. Coming from someone who went from reading two books a year to more than two every month, trust me when I say reading is for you.

Your friend, 
Julianna, 11th Grade, Staten Island

Dear reader,
Can I let you in on a secret? I think summers in NYC are just too hot. The only thing that gets me outside on a hot summer day is the sound of the ice cream truck pulling up around the corner. Instead, I like to stay inside and read. By reading I’m able to experience new adventures—minus the sweat! So when the weather gets just too hot, try picking up a book and staying inside, and remember the NYPL has rows of new adventures just waiting for you to pick up!

Your friend,
Muna, 11th Grade, Manhattan

Dear reader,

Whenever I’m bored, sad, or in need of an escape, books have always been there for me. The library has come to be a comforting and warm place in my heart, and I hope it can become something similar to you as well! You can get lost in adventures halfway across the world and make friends with fun characters whenever you pick up a book!! Remember that even if things aren’t going your way, just the simple act of grabbing a book can help you a lot.

Your friend, 
Michelle, 10th Grade, Staten Island

Dear reader,

The summer is here and you know what that means…summer reading. Don’t fret because this year it will be way more fun. I remember reading in the summer and it was amazing. Reading was a fun way to explore the whole wide world in one sitting. And you will have our magazine, Portal to add to that fun reading list. It has funny cartoons, cool stories, and playful games that you can do with your friends. So come on and check out the books and our magazine at your local library!

Your friendly book geek, 
Princess, 11th Grade, Bronx

Dear reader,

I know reading can often appear an intimidating activity. Books can have so many pages, unfamiliar words, and confusing topics. However, it does not always have to be that way. I promise you that the more you read, the easier reading will become. It may feel tempting to skip all the "easy" books and dive headfirst into Harry Potter, but I assure you, it will just make reading more of an obstacle than it has to be. Easing into reading with our magazine is a great choice, as all the colorful illustrations, poems, short stories, and more, will serve as an excellent start to your reading adventure. Don't forget, reading should be a journey, not a chore.

Your friend,
David, 11th Grade, Bronx

Dear reader,

Reading to me can feel like a portal to another world. A world where you can see what it feels like to sail the seven seas. A world where there are dragons, and wizards, and anything out of the ordinary. A world just like ours with new experiences and dilemmas. The portals you can be taken through are limitless and exciting! Are you ready to crack open a new book and explore? I sure hope you are! Trust me, you won’t regret it!! :)

Your amiga (friend),
Veronica, 12th Grade, Bronx

Dear reader,

You only get one life, you know. And yet little scribbles on a page can take you to other worlds. You can live a million other lives, see a million other things, and meet a million other people without ever moving. You can live in Italy, or Africa, or Narnia. You can be a painter, a detective, old or young. You can even be a dog! It’s been a long, lonely, boring year for some of us. So please, get a blanket and a cup of tea, or sprawl out in the grass. Tune out the loud city sounds around you and run away—just read. You only get one life, and I’m very grateful that you are spending even a tiny bit of it this way. 

Your friend,
Emma, 10th Grade, Brooklyn

Dear reader, 

Reading is something that we all do, even if we don't like to do it. And we have to read almost everything: TV, maps, the subway, cereal boxes. If we couldn't read it would be impossible to enjoy the world. So since we have to do it, why not enjoy reading? Read whatever you want and whatever will make you happy. There's so many things to choose from at the library and also in our magazine Portal, from mystery to history and any other genre! Happy reading :)

Your friend,
Xiomara, 11th Grade, Bronx

Dear reader,   

This magazine is a testament to the persistence of imagination through the darkest of times. It is a collection of our love for creativity and the city we're proud to call home. My biggest hope for you, the reader, is to feel excited after finishing Portal—excited enough to read it again, and to pick up a book from your local NYPL branch! 

Your friend, 
Bianca, 10th Grade, Brooklyn