Over the summer holidays I’ve been keen to keep M reading, enjoying reading and developing her reading skills. Of course we’ve read plenty of books together and to each other, but I’ve also been trying to sneak in some “hidden” reading where ever possible. One of the easiest ways I’ve found of getting M really excited about reading to me is by giving her a magazine.
I didn’t want to be buying TV or film tie-in magazines, so over the summer I’ve tried out a few others to see which ones we liked best as a family and which ones M has enjoyed. Over the course of the coming week I’ll be reviewing a whole range of different children’s magazines. We’ve found one we’ll definitely be subscribing to – I hope you will find something right for your family too!
I have fond memories of oohing and aahing over photos in my parents’ National Geographic magazines when I was a kid, so I was definitely up for giving M a go with National Geographic Kids.
M loved the posters that form the central pages of every edition, the free gifts were exciting, but her favourite aspect of the magazine was the number of images and notes about animals.
The magazine has a very “busy” feel to it. There are lots of different font sizes, colours, photos, boxes and columns all overlaying each other in fact it looks like a pinboard with lots of bursts of ideas, postcards and post-it notes stuck all over it.
As a parent there were some aspects of the magazine that didn’t appeal to me. The adverts were almost indistinguishable from “real” content, and I felt too much of the magazine was given over to competitions (a sneakier form of advertising in many cases).
National Geographic Kids is the cheapest children’s magazine we tried (with a cover price of £3.20), is very widely available in the UK and with numerous international editions too, and is published monthly.
Being a house of book lovers I was very keen introduce M to “the best children’s book magazine in the world“, Puffin Post. First established in 1967 by Kaye Webb, editor of Puffin Books, Puffin Post includes all sorts of book-related articles aimed at kids, from author interviews, to short stories and excerpts from new books. There are also lots of opportunities for children to see their own artistic and literary endeavours in print. Puffin Post has two editions, the regular Puffin Post, for children aged 9+, and Puffin Post for Pufflings, for children aged 6+.
Puffin Post works on a subscription model. In addition to six magazines a year, each subscription brings six free books (a mixture of popular titles, classics, books by new authors and established series), a membership pack (including stationary, enamel badge and soft puffin toy) and access to the website’s VIP area. An annual UK subscription costs £45 (European subscription is £80, whilst a worldwide subscription is £120).
Puffin Post (for both younger and older readers) is about A5 size (more akin to a book than a magazine) and like National Geographic Kids adopts the “pinboard” look and feel. It doesn’t contain adverts.
Although M enjoyed reading Puffin Post for Pufflings (especially the fun facts, jokes and word games) I think she’ll get much more out of it when she is really reading chapter books on her own, so although the age guideline is 6+ I would say be guided by your child’s reading level; if they are already reading and enjoying (short) chapter books then they’ll appreciate the author interviews, sneak previews and free books much more as they will recognise the books and authors being discussed.
That said, if your child is on the cusp of reading chapter books Puffin Post might prove inspirational for them (M has certainly asked about a couple of authors mentioned in the magazine she read) and there’s plenty of other content for them to enjoy – colouring in, activity pages, craft and drawing tutorials.
Perfect for any bookworm, and great for encouraging bookworms-to-be I think we’ll be subscribing to Puffin Post for M’s 7th birthday at the end of the year. I also think Puffin Post could make a great gift as a classroom subscription – perhaps a teacher’s end of year gift with a difference.
If you’re hesitating about taking out a subscription, perhaps this will sway you :-): enter the voucher code PSEPT11 when you click on “Buy a subscription” here and save £3 off a new Puffin Post or Puffin Post Pufflings subscription. (Valid from 22/08/2011 to 19/09/2011. Available for new subscriptions only. Only valid for online subscriptions.)
Alphabet Glue is a downloadable, print-at-home magazine full of book-ish activities for families to do together such as printable reading records, how to go on a library scavanger hunt, tutorials for making different types of books and themed reading lists (with an American flavour). With a focus on doing and creating, rather than reviews and interviews I think Alphabet Glue is a perfect companion to Puffin Post.
Strictly speaking Alphabet Glue isn’t written as a text specifically for children – rather it’s primarily a set of craft / activity tutorials written for adults, to inspire them and their children – but given its focus on projects inspired by children’s books I felt any round up of magazines for kids would be infinitely poorer were Alphabet Glue not included.
Alphabet Glue looks very stylish (although with only a black and white printer at home, I found the magazine looked more appealing on my computer screen than when I printed it off), is advert free and certainly contains enough new and interesting crafty projects and book love to make it more than worth the $4 is costs to download (you can pay with PayPal). Two volumes are currently available and I’m looking forward to the third due out next month.
Disclosure: I received free copies of National Geographic Kids, Puffin Post and Alphabet Glue to review. My comments however reflect mine and M’s honest opinion.