It's not always easy to get kids reading, but Grade 5 students eagerly rushed a rack of magazines in the library at Grenoble Public School in Don Mills.
The latest issue of The Magazine Not for Adults arrived yesterday.
Edris Ghulami, 10, flipped through an issue filled with colourful photos and features about stars, music, cool television and hot video games. Then he began carefully reading a feature entitled "Tobacco, the deadly poison."
Tharsika Manokumar and Shaheena Syeda turned first to photos of pets, then started to work together to solve a word puzzle.
And Riyash Uppel, also 10, said he decided to read his first Harry Potter novel after seeing a feature on it in the magazine. "Now I'm on the fourth book," he said proudly.
Reactions like this have drawn rave reviews from teachers and the police for the publication produced by, and for, young people.
Operating from a storefront office on Toronto's Queen Street, the magazine has built a loyal following across Canada and has subscribers in Europe and Hong Kong.
Now, police departments are tying into its popularity to reach vulnerable students with messages against drugs, gangs and violence.
Publisher Eric Conroy said he learned through experience that "young people don't want to read heavy messages written by adults."
His previous ventures included the magazine of the Junior Blue Jays and a Canadian edition of Marvel action comics. From bullying to Britney Spears, Not for Adults' content comes directly from readers' letters and responses to a Web site and a telephone comment line.
"For them, it's a mission to get into the magazine," explained Becky Brown, 23, one of the editors. "For us, it's a way to decide the focus."
The features are never patronizing. "Instead of saying, 'Don't do drugs,' we say, 'Here are the facts about drugs, so you can make an informed decision about them,' ".
Recent issues have treated violence, jealousy, bulimia and strokes from a young person's perspective.
The articles get students thinking in new ways, said Grade 5 teacher Bob Thompson.
"They're always anxious to discuss what they read with me. It seems to get them interested in reading current events in newspapers and magazines."
Because of a unique arrangement, the entire $1.95 cover price from each newsstand sale in Ontario is now going to a police fund to finance drug-education programs.
"At a certain age, it is not considered cool to like the police. But there's always a huge response to this magazine," said Metro Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner. When an officer arrives in class to deliver a message against drugs and violence, the brochures often never make it out the door, he explained. But when police hand out copies of the magazine, kids take them home.
Production and printing is paid for by companies that sponsor ads and games in the publication. A&P and Dominion stores are donating prime display space.