Looking for something special for your kids this year? One of the hottest new kid gift ideas this holiday season is a magazine subscription. Magazines, always a staple with adults, have been moving into the children’s markets in droves. Where once there were a couple of magazines aimed at children, there are now dozens to choose from, and they’re aimed at kids in every age group with all sorts of interests.
When I was growing up in the 60s, there was essentially one children’s magazine – Highlights for Children. As you got older, there were a few more choices aimed at teens and very gender specific – if you were a boy, someone was bound to get you a subscription to Boys’ Life, especially if you were a Boy Scout. If you were a girl, you had a wider choice – Seventeen for the “fashionista” (long before the term was coined) and Teen for us “regular girls”. Of course, the biggest category of magazines aimed at teen girls was the fanzines – Tiger Beat and their ilk, featuring interviews with the hot boys and gatefold posters of our favorite boy bands and teen heartthrobs.
Of course, there was Scholastic Magazine, delivered to classrooms around the country for use in education about current events, but that hardly counted because, well, it might as well have been a textbook. Other than that, magazines aimed specifically at the children and youth market were relatively rare – which may account for the longevity of the good children’s magazines – Boys’ Life has been around since 1911, and Highlights for Children almost qualifies for the senior citizen discount.
Over the last twenty years or so, the face of children’s magazines has completely changed. These days, whatever your children’s interests, there’s probably a magazine aimed directly at them. There are magazines for every age group, from six months old on up. The older your children are the wider your choice of magazines is that they might like. The best part about the explosion of magazines aimed at children is that most magazines for children are high quality, with slick production values and very well written and researched articles.
Many of them are adjuncts to an adult version of the same publication – and while you can be certain that the motive for their existence is to serve as a funnel for the adult publication, they are not simply simplified versions with bigger pictures and fewer words. Your younger readers can learn about seasonal crafts and find simple cooking recipes in Your Big backyard, follow their favorite sports teams with Sports Illustrated for Kids and learn about the world at large with National Geographic Kids, or Discovery Girls magazine. Teen girls can now read Cosmo Girl, a slightly bolder cousin to Seventeen and TEEN, that aims to address the issues that girls really care about, even when their parents wish they didn’t
Other new entries into the children’s’ magazine market are Nickelodeon magazine, complete with interesting facts, celebrity interviews, comics, pull-outs, puzzles, activities, and the inside look into Nick TV. National Wildlife Federation publishes a line of magazines for kids of all ages, including Wild Animal Babies for toddlers, Your Big Backyard for preschoolers through the primary grades and Ranger Rick for kids 7 and up. The publishers of Cricket, aimed at 9 to 14 year olds, also offer BabyBug, a sturdy cardboard magazine just for babies so that now, even the littlest camper in the house has his or her own magazine for reading.
And then there are the special interest magazines, most aimed at children in the 8 to 16 year old age group. There are magazines for young horse lovers, for anime collectors and video game enthusiasts, for cheerleaders and gymnasts – if there’s a special interest, there is probably a magazine that addresses it. Young writers have a choice of magazines that are written “by kids for kids”, such as New Moon, a magazine that features reader submissions from young girls.
The old standbys are still at the top of the lists, but there are dozens of new titles from which you can choose. Magazine subscriptions for kids are among the smartest gifts you can give – for a birthday, holiday or other special occasion. It’s a great way to encourage regular reading for the kids that you love, and give them an easy way to keep up on news, information, trends and events in their favorite worlds. If you’re not sure what to get a child on your gift list this holiday season, take a look at the growing list of monthly magazines aimed at children. A subscription to a quality magazine aimed at kids can open the doors to a lifetime of learning and fun.