Health Literacy Materials

Health literacy refers to an individual’s ability to access, process and understand the information needed to make safe and appropriate health decisions. It has two components: people must have the basic literacy skills required to access, process and understand information, and information must be presented in a way that is clear and understandable.

The following materials are for practitioners, teachers and tutors of adults, adult learners and anyone interested in health literacy or plain language in health care. Every title on this list is available either online or through the library.


Overviews & Fact Sheets

Adult education for health and wellness. New directions for adult and continuing education, no. 130.
Lillian H. Hill, ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
» This collection of articles explores the role of adult learning in maintaining health and promoting wellness. For example, it includes the role of adult learning in coping with chronic illness, health literacy education within adult literacy education, adult educators and cultural competence within health, and the role of adult educators in helping learners access and select quality health information on the internet.

At risk: a socio-economic analysis of health and literacy among seniors.
Paul Roberts and Gail Fawcett, Centre for International Statistics, Canadian Council on Social Development, 1998.
Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/research/nls/ials/atrisk/atrisk.pdf
Plain language summary (2007) available at www.en.copian.ca/library/research/nls/ials/atrisk/summary/cover.htm

Beyond words: the health-literacy connection. (Online)
Prepared by Doris Gillis. Canadian Health Network, Public Health Agency of Canada, 2005.
www.nald.ca/library/research/cahealth/English.pdf
» An overview of the health-literacy connection.

The Calgary charter on health literacy: rationale and core principles for the development of health literacy curricula. (Online)
Clifford Coleman et al., The Centre for Literacy, 2011.
www.en.copian.ca/library/research/cfl/calgary_charter_2011/calgary_charter_2011.pdf
» Core principles for developing and adapting health literacy curricula.

Health and learning environmental scan: 2006. (Online)
Sue Folinsbee and Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier with Hélène Grégoire and Allan Quigley.
Canadian Council on Learning, 2007.
www.en.copian.ca/library/research/hlkc/update07/cover.htm

Health literacy in Canada: a healthy understanding.
T. Scott Murray et al. Canadian Council on Learning, 2008.
Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/research/ccl/health/health.pdf
» “This report examines the relationship between levels of health literacy and health outcomes (e.g., diabetes). It also outlines how certain characteristics, such as education and age, can affect health literacy.”

Health literacy in Canada: initial results from the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS).
Canadian Council on Learning, 2007.
Also available online at www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/HealthLiteracy/HealthLiteracyinCanada.pdf
» Information on the distribution of health literacy among Canadian adults and the public policy implications of this information.

Health literacy portal. (Online)
Canadian Public Health Agency.
http://www.cpha.ca/en/programs/portals/h-l.aspx
» Access to key information about health literacy in Canada.

How does literacy affect the health of Canadians? A profile paper
Burt Perrin, Health Canada, 1998.
Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/research/howdoes/cover.htm
» This paper discusses why the health field should be concerned about literacy, literacy and health status, how literacy affects health, and what can be done.

How low literacy can affect your health. (Online)
Canadian Council on Learning, 2008.
www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/LessonsInLearning/Mar-06-08-Low-literacy-affe.pdf

“More universal for some than others”: Canada’s health care system and the role of adult education.
B. Allan Quigley, Maureen Coady, Helene Gregoire, Sue Folinsbee and Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier. In New directions for adult and continuing education: reaching out across the border: Canadian perspectives in adult education (number 124; Winter, 2009). Edited by Patricia Cranton and Leona M. English. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
»This chapter highlights and emphasizes the importance of linking health and adult literacy to improve use and access to health care and ensure a healthy population.

Outcomes from the National Symposium on Health Literacy: priorities for action. (Online)
Canadian Public Health Association, 2008.
www.cpha.ca/uploads/portals/h-l/priorities_e.pdf

State of learning in Canada: no time for complacency. (Online)
Canadian Council on Learning, 2007.
/www.ccl-cca.ca/nr/rdonlyres/5ecaa2e9-d5e4-43b9-94e4-84d6d31bc5bc/0/newsolr_report.pdf
» This issue of the annual report includes a look at the link between health and adult literacy (p. 50-52).

A vision for a health literate Canada: report of the expert panel on health literacy. (Online)
Irving Rootman & Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety. Canadian Public Health Agency, 2008.
www.cpha.ca/uploads/portals/h-l/report_e.pdf

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Research

Adult health and learning in Canada: reflections on a four-year project conducted under the auspices of the Health and Learning Knowledge Centre and the Canadian Council on Learning, 2005-2009. (Online)
B. Allan Quigley, Wendy L. Kraglund-Gauthier with Sue Folinsbee, Hélène Grégoire. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Council on Learning, 2010.
www.en.copian.ca/library/research/ccl/reflections/reflections.pdf

Adult Working Group’s cross-national consultations on health and learning. (Online)
Sue Folinsbee et al. Canadian Council on Learning, 2007.
www.en.copian.ca/library/research/hlkc/finalrpt/cover.htm. Summary available at www.cpha.ca/uploads/portals/h-l/awg/imm_ref_sum_e.pdf
» Research focused on adults with low literacy skills and immigrants and refugees. Presents results from consultations and recommendations.

Adults living with limited literacy and chronic illness: patient education experiences. (Online)
Judy King & Maurice C. Taylor, 2010. In Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal, 4(1), 24-33.
www.en.copian.ca/library/research/mtaylor/patient/patient.pdf
» This study investigates how Canadians with limited literacy skills make sense of their patient-education experiences.

Feasibility study on literacy and mental health.
Chris Harwood, Mary Wiggin, Ottawa Community Coalition for Literacy, 2007.
Also available online at www.occl.ca/pubs/feastudy/feastudy.pdf
» The purpose of this study was to enable literacy and mental health agencies to develop strategies to help adults who have serious mental illness as well as literacy needs. Includes a number of best practice suggestions and recommendations.

Literacy and health research in Canada: where have we been and where should we go. (Online)
First edition prepared by Irving Rootman and Barbara Ronson, 2003.
www.en.copian.ca/library/research/lithlthe/clearlng/cover.htm
» This report covers past and current literacy and health needs in Canada, what the research tells us, and what can help in the future.
Clear language edition by Elsie Petch, Barbara Ronson & Irving Rootman, 2004. Available as a pdf at www.cpha.ca/uploads/portals/h-l/literacy_e.pdf

Mental health literacy in Canada: phase one report: mental health literacy project.
Prepared by Beverley Bourget and Richard Chenier. Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, 2007.
Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/research/mhl/cover.htm

The role of the literacy field in a BC health literacy strategy.
Marina Niks with Leona Gadsby. British Columbia: ReadNowBC and 2010 Legacies Now, 2010.
» This report describes the current involvement of literacy practitioners in health literacy work in British Columbia. Includes insights into promising practices, needs and capacity in the field.

Working together on literacy and health research: final report. (University of Victoria, Centre for Community Health Promotion Research) 2005 National Summer Institute. (Online)
www.cpha.ca/uploads/portals/h-l/si-fin05_e.pdf

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Clear Language & Design

Clear writing and design: a reader-friendly handbook.
Melanie Cutter & Jan Draper. Literacy in Action, 2008.
Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/cwd/cover.htm

Five guidelines for developing customer-friendly websites.
Maximus, Inc. Columbia, SC: Southern Institute on Children and Families, 2006.
» Suggestions for developing accessible websites for health programs. While it is written for the American health care system, the guidelines are generally useful.

Health literacy from A to Z: practical ways to communicate your health message.
By Helen Osborne. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, c2013.
» An easy to use handbook designed for health professionals. Ideas and strategies based on key principles and strategies of effective health communication are presented in a clear and informal manner by a pioneer in health literacy. This edition is updated and revised with new information about timely health literacy topics. It has 14 new chapters including 4 chapters about emerging technology and 7 chapters focused on diverse audiences including adults who do not read English well.

Health literacy online: a guide to writing and designing easy-to-use health web sites. (Online)
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2010.
www.health.gov/healthliteracyonline/

The health literacy style manual.
Maximus, Inc. Columbia, SC: Southern Institute on Children and Families, 2005.
» A collection of suggestions for developing and improving health-related print materials.

How to write easy-to-read health materials. (Online)
MedlinePlus. Last updated 2011.
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/etr.html
» Guidelines to help create easy-to-read health materials. Includes samples of readability assessment tools (e.g., SMOG) readability software programs. .

Making it clear: a clear language and design screen and clear language checklist.
Canadian Labour Congress, 2007.
Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/clc/checklist/cover.htm
» A useful design screen and checklist to help in the preparation of clear language materials.

Plain language: a promising strategy for clearly communicating health information and improving health literacy. (Online)
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, 2005. www.health.gov/communication/literacy/plainlanguage/
» Reviews plain language and health literacy terms, dispels myths of plain language and low literacy, and discusses communication barriers that plain language alone cannot overcome, summarizes evidence of plain language as a promising strategy in health information communication. Includes list of resources.

Plain language alternatives for patient information and consent materials. (Online)
Sharon Nancekivell, 2008.
healthcare.partners.org/phsirb/consfrm_files/Plain_Language_Alternatives_for_Patient_Information_and_Consent_Materials.pdf
» Plain language alternatives (Grade 4/5 reading level) for medical terms.

Plain language and health literacy.
Winnipeg, Man.: Literacy Partners of Manitoba, 2009.
www.plainlanguage.mb.literacy.ca/healthlit.htm
» Health literacy resources in plain language for instructors, adult learners, and health care providers.

Plain language thesaurus for health communications. Draft version 3. (Online)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.
depts.washington.edu/respcare/public/info/Plain_Language_Thesaurus_for_Health_Communications.pdf

Websites about plain language and health literacy. (Online)
AHEC Clear Health Communication Program, The Ohio State University, 2010.
medicine.osu.edu/orgs/ahec/Documents/HL_Resources_PlainLanguage.pdf

Writing health information for patients and families: a guide to creating patient education materials that are easy to read, understand and use. 3rd ed.
By Liz Wizowski, Theresa Harper & Tracy Hutchings. Hamilton Health Sciences, 2008. Also available online at www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/workfiles/PATIENT_ED/Writing%20health%20information%20Sept%203%2008%20With%20hyperlinks.pdf
» Shows how to write and design plain language materials and how to plan and evaluate the process. Issues related to using the Internet for patient education are discussed. Reproducible materials include planning guide, checklist for patient education materials, and patient/family evaluation form.

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For Health Care Practitioners

Health literacy audit.
Developed and written by Terri Peters. Literacy Alberta. 2008.
» Using checklists, staff in health organizations can assess how effectively they communicate with their clients.

Health literacy consulting. (Website)
Helen Osborne. Natick, MA: Health Literacy Consulting, 2011- Online at http://healthliteracy.com/
» While the website of a business, this website contains links to a variety of free articles, podcasts and how-to tips on health literacy.

Health literacy environment activity packet: first impressions & walking interview. (Online)
Rima E. Rudd. On-line tools. Health Literacy Studies, 2010.
www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/files/activitypacket.pdf
» This resources focuses on four activities designed to help staff members consider the literacy environment of a healthcare workplace. First impressions focus on the phone, the Web, and the walk to the facility. The walking interview is a navigation exercise.

Health literacy from A to Z: practical ways to communicate your health message.
By Helen Osborne. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, c2013.
» An easy to use handbook designed for health professionals. Ideas and strategies based on key principles and strategies of effective health communication are presented in a clear and informal manner by a pioneer in health literacy. This edition is updated and revised with new information about timely health literacy topics. It has 14 new chapters including 4 chapters about emerging technology and 7 chapters focused on diverse audiences including adults who do not read English well.

Health literacy: making the connection (DVD).
Produced by the Nova Scotia Departments of Health and Education. [Nova Scotia]: Health Canada, 2004.
» This DVD highlights the impact of limited literacy on health and suggests ways in which health information and advice can be provided in ways that people with different levels of literacy can understand. It is aimed at practitioners and talks about the issues of health literacy and what health consumers need. The DVD contains two versions: version one is 18 minutes long while version two is abbreviated to 6 minutes.

Health literacy resources. (Online)
Canadian Public Health Association.
www.cpha.ca/en/portals/h-l/resources.aspx
» A list of links to reliable health literacy resources.

Health literacy special collection: tools and resources for health literacy initiatives. (Online)
Boston, MA: World Education, 2009-.
http://healthliteracy.worlded.org/

Health literacy studies. (Online)
Harvard School of Public Health, 2010-.
www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/
» This site includes an overview of health literacy, research findings, policy reports, practice strategies and tools and resources.

Health literacy universal precautions toolkit. (Online)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2010.
www.ahrq.gov/qual/literacy/
» This toolkit is designed to help health care practices insure that systems are in place to promote understanding by all patients, not just those identified as needing extra assistance. It includes a quick start guide, 6 steps to implement the toolkit, 20 tools, and over 25 resources.

Health literacy video. (Online)
American Medical Association, 2001, 2007.
www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/ama-foundation/our-programs/public-health/health-literacy-program/health-literacy-video.page?
» This webpage contains two videos “Low health literacy: you can’t tell by looking” and “Health literacy and patient safety”. They are both tools for raising physician awareness of health literacy.

Literacy and health: defining links and developing partnerships. (Online)
By Charles Moody. Literacy Partners of Manitoba, 2003.
www.plainlanguage.mb.literacy.ca/resources/LiteracyandHealthmanual.pdf
» This workshop manual introduces health providers to the links between literacy and health and offers strategies for reaching clients with low literacy skills. Includes suggestions for adult literacy practitioners.

Websites with easy-to-read materials for patients/clients. (Online)
The Ohio State University. AHEC Clear Health Communication Program, 2010.
medicine.osu.edu/orgs/ahec/Documents/HL_Resources_EasyTo%20Read.pdf

Writing health information for patients and families: a guide to creating patient education materials that are easy to read, understand and use. 3rd ed.
By Liz Wizowski, Theresa Harper & Tracy Hutchings. Hamilton Health Sciences, 2008.
Also available online at www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/workfiles/PATIENT_ED/Writing%20health%20information%20Sept%203%2008%20With%20hyperlinks.pdf
» Shows how to write and design plain language materials and how to plan and evaluate the process. Issues related to using the Internet for patient education are discussed. Reproducible materials include planning guide, checklist for patient education materials, and patient/family evaluation form.

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For Teachers & Tutors

Culture, health and literacy: a guide to health education materials for adults with limited English literacy skills.
Written by Julie McKinney and Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi. 2000.
» Many materials are in languages other than English.

The communication toolkit: using information to get high quality care.
National Business Group on Health, California Healthcare Foundation, 2009.
/www.helpyouremployeeshealth.com/
» Designed for employers, this website has compiled a collection of links to free health care communication materials.

Doctor for literacy and low 1.
By Donna Bowler. Vancouver, BC: successintesl, 2010.
» This teacher’s manual includes four readers plus student handout and activity masters for a unit on visiting the doctor for literacy/low 1 level students. Activities, techniques and sample lesson plan included.

Easy-to-read health materials. (Online)
Medline Plus. Last updated August 2012.
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/all_easytoread.html
» A library of easy-to-read health materials organized by health topics. Includes interactive tutorials and videos.

Essential skills for personal success.
Sheila Marshall and Karen Farrar. Timmins, ON: Literacy Network Northeast, 2010.
Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/literacynet/module2/module2.pdf
» This curriculum of basic life skills includes a module on managing health.

Family health and literacy: a guide to easy-to-read health education materials and web sites for families. (Online)
Julie McKinney and Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, 2006.
healthliteracy.worlded.org/docs/family/fhl.pdf
» This guide is designed to help integrate health and literacy education in family literacy programs.

Family literacy and health. (Online)
Janet Shively, Suzanne Dionne-Coster & Lorri Sauvé. (2007).
www.en.copian.ca/library/research/famlithea/cover.htm
» This module of the Centre for Family Literacy’s “Foundations in Family Literacy” explores the relationship between health literacy and family literacy, and looks at ways that health and family literacy practitioners can work together to address common concerns.

Florida Literacy Coalition. Health literacy. (Website)
Orlando, FL: Florida Health Literacy Coalition, 2008 – 2010. www.floridaliteracy.org/literacy_resources__teacher_tutor__health_literacy.html
» This webpage contains three health literacy curricula: Staying Healthy: an English learners guide to health care and healthy living, Women’s Health, and Coping with Stress. Each curriculum has resources for learners and a teacher’s guide.

Foundations in family literacy: module V: family literacy across contexts.
Maureen Sanders and Janet Shively. Edmonton, AB: Centre for Family Literacy, 2009.
» Concepts of health and health literacy and their links to literacy and family literacy are discussed. Includes a review of a broad range of health determinants and how they contribute to the health status of families.

Health information in a changing world: practical approaches for teachers, schools, and school librarians.
W. Bernard Lukenbill and Barbara Froling Immroth. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.
» This resource provides a plan for librarians and teachers who want to provide better health information to students and their caregivers. It discusses teaching health within curriculum areas and includes tips on accessing and evaluating health information in print and electronic media. Practical suggestions for effective instructional methods and findings on teaching effectiveness assessment are included.

Health information on the Internet. (Online)
Canadian Public Health Agency.
www.cpha.ca/en/portals/h-l/web.aspx
» Guidelines on choosing online health materials and some suggested links.

Health law: student manual. (Online)
Yamaska Literacy Council, 2006.
www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/yamaska/stuhealth/cover.htm

Health law: tutor manual. (Online)
Yamaska Literacy Council, 2006.
www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/yamaska/tuthealth/cover.htm

Health literacy in adult basic education: designing lessons, units, and evaluation: plans for an integrated curriculum. (Online)
Lisa Soricone, Rima Rudd, Maricel Santos & Ben Capistrant. Boston, MA: NCSALL & Health and Adult Literacy and Learning Initiative, 2007.
www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/files/healthliteracyinadulteducation.pdf
» A guide designed for educators who are interested in integrating health literacy skills into their current adult education instruction.

A health literacy manual for older adults. (Online)
Nova Scotia Department of Seniors, 2006.
www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/hlmoa/cover.htm
» This manual includes eight health literacy lesson plans to be used by tutors and health educators working with seniors.

Health literacy special collection: tools and resources for health literacy initiatives. (Online)
World Education, 2009-.
healthliteracy.worlded.org/

Health talk: a health literacy curriculum for English language learners. (Online)
Farzana Mubashir and Rabia Garewal. Calgary: Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, 2010.
library.copian.ca/search?terms=health%20talk&sort_by=search_api_relevance&sort_order=DESC&f[0]=field_authors%3A7607

Healthy roads media. (Website)
Healthy Roads Media, 2003-2012.
www.healthyroadsmedia.org/
» This site contains free health education material in a number of languages and a variety of formats.

Learning for our health: a resource for participatory literacy and health education.
Mary Norton and Pat Campbell. Edmonton, The Learning Centre Literacy Association, 1998.
» Part One reviews some links between literacy and health and discusses participatory education. Part Two outlines two-hour workshops on health topics that were developed and field-tested for groups of women.

Lesson plan: reading: prescriptions and health information. (Online)
Saskatoon, Sask.: Read Saskatoon, 2012.
www.readsaskatoon.com/volunteers/pdfs/lesson_plan/lp_reading_prescriptions_health_info.pdf

Making the case (Skilled for Health). (Online)
Dept. of Health and Dept. for Education and Skills, Great Britain. 2006.
rwp.qia.oxi.net/embeddedlearning/skilled_health/index.cfm
» A program using health-related learning materials to deliver literacy learning.

My health: QLWG essential life skills: Unit 8. (Online)
Vicki-Ann Huegli. Quebec Literacy Working Group, 2008.
www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/qlwg/unit8/unit8.pdf
» In this workbook, learners think about ways to protect their health, create a personal health record, read about exercise, practice understanding health advice, research a health issue, and prepare questions for a doctor. Originally designed to be used with a distance education tutor.

Multicultural health.
Vancouver, BC: AMSSA, 2011.
www.amssa.org/programs/multicultural-health
» This website provides information on healthy living to multicultural and immigrant communities in BC. Includes ESL curriculums for healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, diabetes and healthy communities.

Physical literacy: throughout the life course.
Edited by Margaret Whitehead. London: Routledge, 2010.
» Physical literacy describes the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding that individuals develop in order to maintain physical activity at an appropriate level throughout their life. This book contains articles that explore this concept for a variety of age groups.

Research-based health literacy materials and instruction guide: beginning ABE and ESL levels. (Online)
National Institute for Literacy, 2010.
healthliteracynetwork.org/materials/
» Comprehensive health literacy materials that integrate literacy skills and practice with pertinent health information. Specifically intended for beginning ABE and ESL learners. Includes instruction guide.

Research-based health literacy materials and instruction guide: intermediate ABE and ESL levels. (Online)
National Institute for Literacy, 2010.
healthliteracynetwork.org/intermaterials/instr_guide.html

Success in… emergencies.
Success in… going to the hospital.
Success in… seeing the doctor.
Donna Bowler. Vancouver: successintesl, 1997.
» Designed for ESL students, these workbooks and teacher’s guides include cover health topics. All include audio CDs.

Sweetness in life: the diabetes story. (4 DVDs)
Produced in association with Saskatchewan Communication Network and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, 2002.
» It has been said by an elder that the reason why Aboriginal people suffer gravely from diabetes, is because we have lost the “sweetness in life.” In essence, the Aboriginal way of life — eating off the land, getting in touch with the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual elements of life and looking after our bodies — has been lost. The elder went on to say that, “once we have found the sweetness in life, the diabetes will leave us.” This series features knowledgeable and enthusiastic hosts, healthy eating, physical activities, community profiles, interviews with elders, role models, health practitioners and other people from across the country.

Talk about health in plain terms. (Online)
Puget Sound Health Alliance, 2005-2012.
www.pugetsoundhealthalliance.org/resources/PlainHealthConsumers.html
» Links to websites with health information.

Websites with easy-to-read materials for patients/clients. (Online)
The Ohio State University. AHEC Clear Health Communication Program, 2010.
medicine.osu.edu/orgs/ahec/Documents/HL_Resources_EasyTo%20Read.pdf

What the HEALTH!: a literacy and health resource for youth.
Prepared by the Canadian Public Health Association, 2000.
» Designed for use by people who teach, guide and support young people in a wide range of roles and environments: in literacy programs, schools, youth-serving agencies, community services and health care settings.

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For Adult Learners

Ask me 3.
www.npsf.org/askme3/
» Three questions to promote effective communication between health care providers and patients.

Baby basics: your month-by-month guide to a healthy pregnancy.
By Naomi Rand & Alice Greenwood. The What to Expect Foundation, 2002.
» An informative guide intended for use with low-income women. It begins with a month by month guide to a healthy pregnancy that covers the baby’s growth and development, changes for the mother, and basic medical advice. This section is written at a Grade 3 readability level. The next section provides more detailed information on topics such as postpartum care, nutrition and special issues such as homelessness, miscarriage and drug addiction. This second section is written at a Grade 6 readability level. Health information is personalized with stories, myths and old wives’ tales.

Doctor for literacy and low 1.
By Donna Bowler. Vancouver, BC: successintesl, 2010.
» This teacher’s manual includes four readers plus student handout and activity masters for a unit on visiting the doctor for literacy/low 1 level students. Activities, techniques and sample lesson plan included.

Easy-to-read health materials. (Online)
Medline Plus. Last updated August 2012.
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/all_easytoread.html
» A library of easy-to-read health materials organized by health topics. Includes interactive tutorials and videos.

Emotional wellness: Mary’s story.
Dr. George S. Renfrey. Owen Sound, ON: Ningwakwe Learning Press, 2007.
» This learning resource about emotional well-being is told in the form of a story.

The gathering tree.
By Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden; illustrated by Heather D. Holmwood. BC: Theytus Books, 2005.
» A gentle positive story of a family facing HIV, told in a rural First Nations setting. Includes student materials for students, teachers, parents, health educators, etc.

Health: the big picture.
Cynthia Peters, ed. New England Literacy Resource Centre.
» This issue of the Change Agent focuses on health. Short articles, cartoons, and activities present information about health care issues. Designed for intermediate level ESOL and ABE.

Health series.
Edmonton, AB: Grass Roots Press.
» A series of readers highlighting healthy living habits. Grade 1 readability. Titles include:

  • Fad diets. By Linda Kita-Bradley, 2008.
    » Al tries fad diets but they don’t work. What will?
  • A good night’s sleep. By Linda Kita-Bradley, 2008.
    » Eva needs to get more sleep.
  • Saying no. By Linda Kita-Bradley, 2008.
    » Fay needs to learn to take control.
  • Stress. By Laurie Gould, 2000.
    » Ann feels stressed and learns healthy ways to cope.


Health stories: reading and language activities for healthy choices. Introductory level.

Ann Gianola. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2007.
» This introductory student book provides 14 lessons on health topics of general interest including exercise, hand washing, emergencies, smoking, flu, hay fever, and excess sugar and salt.. Each lesson includes a reading, with exercises to practice basic language skills that focus on reading, speaking and vocabulary development and listening. Includes some critical thinking and communication activities.

Health stories: reading and language activities for healthy choices – introductory workbook.

Ann Gianola. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2007.
» This introductory workbook provides additional practice exercises to reinforce the 14 lessons in the Health Stories student book. The exercises include vocabulary, spelling, listening and reading comprehension exercises. Prompts for listening activities are included.

Health stories: reading and language activities for healthy choices – low-beginning workbook.

Ann Gianola. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2007.
» This low-beginning workbook provides additional practice exercises to reinforce the 14 lessons in the Health Stories student book. The exercises include vocabulary, spelling, listening and reading comprehension exercises. Prompts for listening activities are included.

Health stories: reading and language activities for healthy choices. Low-beginning level.

Ann Gianola. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2007.
» This low-beginning student book provides 14 lessons on health topics of general interest including stress, lifting, flossing, food safety, alcohol and bad cuts. Each lesson includes a reading, with exercises to practice basic language skills that focus on reading, speaking and vocabulary development and listening. Includes some critical thinking and communication activities.

Healthy life series:
Owen Sound, ON: Ningwakwe Press, 2002. Grade 3 readability.

  • Choosing life: Bobby’s story. By Gilles Pinette.
    » This is an emotional story about a First Nations youth struggling with his friend’s suicide. It includes warning signs and what to do if you know someone is suicidal. The story was written and field tested to be believable. This learning resource is told in the form of a story, according to First Nation tradition.
  • Diabetes and diet: Ivan’s story. By Gilles Pinette.
    » Ivan is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He learns with help from a number of people to successfully manage his diabetes.
  • Healthy pregnancy: Jenny’s story. By Gilles Pinette
    » A young couple wants to have a healthy baby. Jenny learns to stay healthy in all areas of the Medicine Wheel in order to give their baby the best start in life. The story was written and field tested to be believable. This learning resource is told in the form of a story, according to First Nations tradition.
  • HIV/AIDS awareness: Sage’s story. By Martha Troian.
    » This book teaches about HIV/AIDS through the fictional story of Sage, a young woman who is tested positive for HIV. Facts about HIV/AIDS are included throughout the book. This learning resource is told in the form of a story, according to First Nation tradition.
  • Understanding cancer: Mishoo’s story. By John Rice.
    » A grandfather explains to his granddaughter the dangers of cancer and ways to cope. It was written and field tested to be an authentic learning story. This learning resource is told in the form of a story, according to First Nation tradition.

An invited threat: diabetes prevention comic book. (Graphic novel)
Steven Keewatin Sanderson. Healthy Aboriginal Network. 2008.
» This story was focus group tested with youth and health professionals for its ability to convey the idea of what is, and what is not, healthy food.

It takes a village. (Graphic novel)
Zoe Hopkins, Amancay Nahuelpan. [Courtenay, BC]: Healthy Aboriginal Network, 2012.
» This graphic novel tells the story of Lara, a young pregnant woman. She learns about how to take care of herself and provide the best possible start for her baby when the woman Danis comes to visit. Lara learns about eating healthy foods, avoiding alcohol, breastfeeding, keeping the baby’s father involved, and bonding with her baby. A preview version is available online at www.thehealthyaboriginal.net/comics/tav.pdf.

Kiss me deadly. (Graphic novel)
Richard Van Camp, Chris Auchter. [Courtenay, BC]: Healthy Aboriginal Network, 2011.
» This graphic novel focuses on a variety of issues around sexual health, discussed from the point of view of a diverse group of First Nations friends, lovers, and relatives. Topics range from respect and communication in relationships, to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, two-spirit people and sexual health as a career or youth led project. Online preview version available at www.thehealthyaboriginal.net/comics/KMD.pdf.

Living with stress.
Living with grief and loss.
Living with healthy relationships.

Judy Murphy. Edmonton, AB: Grass Roots Press, 2009.
» These books are part of the Easy-to-read health series.

Simply health: The Breast, Eyesight, Dental, Hearing, Podiatry, Prostate.
Developed by The VRRI in partnership with Women’s Health Centre, Alberta Health Services Calgary Health Region. Calgary, AB: Literacy Alberta, 2009.
» These six large format, plain language brochures were created to offer accessible health information on the following topics: breast health, dental health, eyesight, hearing, podiatry, prostate health. They provide information to help individual talk to their doctors and include a glossary for each topic.

Sneezes and diseases: a resource book for caregivers & parents. (Online)
Vancouver Coastal Health, 2008.
www.vch.ca/media/SneezesDiseases.pdf
» A resource manual about common childhood diseases in plain language.

Stress management: self-care handbook.
Channing L. Bete Company, 2005.
» This handbook includes dozens of useful tips for reducing stress.

Success in emergencies.
Success in going to the hospital.
Success in seeing the doctor.

Donna Bowler. Vancouver: successintesl, 1997.
» Designed for ESL students, these workbooks and teacher’s guides include cover health topics. All include audio CDs.

Sweetness in life: the diabetes story. (4 DVDs)
Produced in association with Saskatchewan Communication Network and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, 2002.
» It has been said by an elder that the reason why Aboriginal people suffer gravely from diabetes, is because we have lost the “sweetness in life.” In essence, the Aboriginal way of life — eating off the land, getting in touch with the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual elements of life and looking after our bodies — has been lost. The elder went on to say that, “once we have found the sweetness in life, the diabetes will leave us.” This series features knowledgeable and enthusiastic hosts, healthy eating, physical activities, community profiles, interviews with elders, role models, health practitioners and other people from across the country.

Talk about health in plain terms. (Online)
Puget Sound Health Alliance, 2005-2012.
www.pugetsoundhealthalliance.org/resources/PlainHealthConsumers.html
» Links to websites with health information.

Vocabulary boosters: workbooks. (I, II & III)
Susan Rogers. Grass Roots Press, 2005.
» These workbooks develop vocabulary through reading passages and then doing practice exercises. The workbooks include a section on health.

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