Health Literacy Month

October is Health Literacy Month, a month dedicated to promoting the importance of understandable health information. The month was first honored as an annual worldwide event in 1999 and continues to be an important initiative in addressing inequities in health literacy.

Healthy People 2020 defines health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “low literacy has been linked to poor health outcomes such as higher rates of hospitalization and less frequent use of preventive services.”

The year’s theme for Health Literacy Month is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” This encourages taking action to improve health communication between patients and providers and raising awareness about health literacy to address health disparities. Anyone can be a health literacy hero – an individual, a group of people, or an organization. Learn how to be a health literacy hero by exploring the links and resources below and be sure to check out some of the events Reaching HEALthy and the Central Parkway Library are hosting for this month.

Health Literacy Month


  • 2-1-1 SEPA

    Call 2-1-1 to get connected to important health and human services. You can also use their website to search.
  • Asthma

    Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways, causing wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. It can affect both children and adults.

    Search for free or reduced cost services like medical care, food, job training, and more.
  • Cancer

    There are many different types of cancers. Ask your doctor about your risk factors for cancer and how you can lower your risk.
  • CDC on Health Literacy

    Information and tools to improve health literacy and public health. Find health literacy activities by state, develop materials, learn about health literacy.
  • Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

    The Philadelphia Department of Public Health provides a variety of assistance for the prevention, detection, and treatment of childhood lead poisoning.
  • Coalition Against Hunger

    The Coalition Against Hunger helps people connect to food pantries and soup kitchens in their neighborhood, including options for finding food that very day. They also help people to apply for SNAP (food stamp) benefits. Households can apply for SNAP benefits by calling their hotline at 215-430-0556.
  • Community Health Explorer

    Curious about health statistics in Philadelphia? Visit the Community Health Explorer to learn more about health in your zip code.
  • Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities

    This list of resources from the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities includes help for alcohol, drugs, gambling, homeless supports, domestic violence, intellectual disAbility supports, crisis centers, and 24/7 hotlines.
  • Diabetes

    Are you at risk for prediabetes or diabetes? Check in with the CDC to find out about prevention and diabetes management, as well as diabetes programs you can enroll in near you.
  • Fact Sheet: Health Literacy and Health Outcomes

    This fact sheet summarizes key research findings on the relationship between health literacy and health outcomes.
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers

    Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are local, non-profit or city-run primary care providers serving low-income families. Find one using this search tool.
  • Food Fit Philly

    Eating healthy and being physically active can reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
  • Free Health Screenings

    The Philadelphia Department of Public Health maintains a monthly list of free health screenings across the city. Scroll down to the “Free Health Screenings in Philadelphia” section for the link to this month’s list.
  • Free Library Culinary Literacy Center

    Our Culinary Literacy Center offers a wide range of programs for eaters of all interests and tastes. Kitchen classes range from Meatless Mondays to Fish Without Fear and butchering demonstrations to salad how-tos. Free and low-cost public programs teach consumer skills that help parents make recipes fit their families’ needs and emphasize nutrition and health literacy to help with disease prevention.
  • Health and Wellness Resource Center

    The Free Library's database where you can explore different health topics
  • Health Finder

    Use this federally sponsored website tool to learn what you or a loved one can do to stay healthy.
  • Health Literacy Basics

    Definitions and answers to basic questions about health literacy provided by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  • Health Literacy Month's Website

    This website will provide more information on how you can help support Health Literacy Month's efforts

    Official guide to the health care, health insurance and the Affordable Care Act
  • Healthy Minds Philly is an online tool and resource to support and improve the mental health and well-being of all Philadelphians. The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) has combined its behavioral health care and intellectual disability services into one complete system as part of its public health strategy and approach.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

    One in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure. It is important to check your blood pressure regularly.
  • Local Health Literacy Events

    A list of local health literacy events across Pennsylvania that you can attend
  • Medline Plus

    A web resource that contains reliable health information from the National Library of Medicine to help answer health questions
  • Medline Plus Health Topics

    If you are looking for information on a specific health condition, the Medline Plus list of Health Topics is a great place to start. Here are some specific health conditions that are prevalent in Philadelphia, as well as information on some of the behaviors, like smoking, exercise, and nutrition, that can contribute to health issues.
  • Obesity

    Learn about adult and childhood obesity, including the causes, the health consequences, and strategies to prevent obesity.
  • PA Forward: Healthy Literacy

    See what efforts the Pennsylvania Library Association is putting forth to promote health literacy.
  • Philadelphia Corporation for Aging: Health & Wellness

    Good health is a key component of aging well and there are many free community-based programs to help seniors improve their health. Using PCA’s event search tool, you can find events near you on health topics including nutrition, medication management, and injury prevention.
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health

    The main website for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health is a great place to start researching your health questions. It connects you to information on the many health issues Philadelphians face, as well as resources for non-English speakers.
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health: Immunization Program

    Find immunization recommendations here to make sure you and your children are up to date on all vaccines.
  • Philadelphia Health Centers

    Do you need to see a doctor? Visit this site for locations of medical services across the city.
  • Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative

    The Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative website connects to three resettlement agencies and eight refugee health clinics.
  • Philly Food Finder

    Use this tool to find food pantries, meals for seniors, soup kitchens, SHARE host sites, and farmer’s markets by typing in your address or zip code.
  • Philly Powered

    Philly Powered is part of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Get Healthy Philly initiative to promote everyday physical activity, particularly among adult men and women who are seeking to live healthier lives.
  • Point-to-Talk Booklets in 19 Languages

    These booklets, developed by the American Hospital Association, are designed to help non-English speakers talk with their doctors during appointments. They can be downloaded and printed.
  • Poison Control Center

    The Poison Control Center’s mission is to reduce the number of accidents, the severity of injuries, the number of deaths, and the healthcare costs associated with poison exposures. They can be reached at any time at 1-800-222-1222.
  • PubMed Health

    A service provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) that provides information for consumers and clinicians on prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions
  • Ready Philadelphia

    Part of being healthy is being prepared for emergencies. Sign up for Ready Philadelphia to get alerts about disasters, local emergencies, weather alerts, mass transit, and other important information.
  • Regional Health Literacy Coalition

    A website created by Pennsylvania's Health Literacy Coalition to improve understanding between providers and consumers of health care

    An initiative by the Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) and Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals (TJUH) to address health literacy in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Exercise DVDs by Health

Try a new workout or an old favorite with these DVDs.

View the full list

Health for Kids (32 items)

Check out some health-related books for kids and teens at the Free Library.

Health (29 items)

Here are some of the health books on the shelves of the Free Library.

Diabetes (13 items)

Learn more about diabetes and how to manage it.

Electronic Health Literacy Resources (7 items)

Check out these electronic sources to learn more about health literacy and how it can affect you!

Health Literacy 2016 (7 items)

Check out these resources to learn more about health literacy and how to best communicate health information!

Electronic Resources

Upcoming Events

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