Reading outside the book – a week-long celebration of magazines for kids (2)

posted in: 2. Illustrators and Authors | 3

On Monday I introduced Playing by the book’s week-long celebration of magazines for kids by looking at 3 very different publications, National Geographic Kids, Puffin Post, and Alphabet Glue. Today’s selection of magazines, however, all have something in common; they are incredibly beautifully produced, with stunning illustrations of the highest quality. In fact, for their pictures alone these are magazines you’ll want to keep or even repurpose and turn into art to hang on your walls.

Okido describes itself as “The Arts and Science Magazine for Kids” and is “designed for children aged 3-7“. Our very first impression was an excellent one – the magazine is really wonderfully produced, with beautiful feeling paper and very appealing, colourful illustrations. As a hook to encourage M to read I couldn’t have asked for anything better – she was very keen to read her way through the entire magazine in one sitting!

We were all delighted with the great mixture of features in Okido; there are short stories illustrated in a wide variety of different ways, games, craft tutorials, colouring in and other pen and paper activities and even songs, all based on the theme for each issue (past themes have included Dirt, Weather and Robots).

An inside spread from a recent Okido issue

As a parent I was delighted by the mix of art and science (Okido is supported by the Wellcome Trust) – I felt that M learned and did lots (ie playing and exploration as well as reading) as a result of reading this magazine. Okido is so engaging in its production and content I really couldn’t recommend it more highly.

If I had to find one “issue” with Okido, it would be its stated target age of 3-7. Whilst non readers may enjoy the art and craft activities in the magazine, I really believe most will be gained from it if your child is already reading. I actually bought Okido for M two years ago and was disappointed then as I felt the cover price was a lot to pay when all she did was scribble inside, but now she’s able to read and really get involved with the activities, I think the magazine is brilliant and definitely worth subscribing to.

An inside spread from a recent Okido issue

Okido is published quarterly. You can buy single issues for £4 (click here for stockists around the world), but a subscription works out cheaper (£20/£30/£38 for 6 issues in the UK/Europe/Worldwide). It contains no advertising.

Ploc is a brand new kids’ magazine, aimed at almost the same audience as Okido, ie 3-8 year olds.

Ploc is stunning to look at. The illustrations really are of the highest book quality. They have a nostalgic feel to them and will be sure to be a hit with fans of the Little Golden Books. As an advocate for cross cultural inspiration for kids (and adults!) I love the distinctively French feel to this magazine: the orchards contain figs and peaches and grapes are used to make champagne. Perhaps this continental flavour should come as no surprise as the magazine’s illustrator is the well established French illustrator Alain Grée.

Inside spread from the first issue of Ploc

Whilst Ploc is visually breathtaking, its inaugural issue didn’t quite work for us when it came to reading. Some of the text could have benefited from slightly tighter editing and the attitudes expressed are not very 21st century; for example there are some slightly incongruous uses of plurals and modals and men and women generally play oldfashioned roles in the illustrations and stories (boys are farmers, woodcutters, astronauts, whilst girls bake bread, clean and sing).

Also, at £7 per issue Ploc is the most expensive of all the children’s magazines we’ve looked at and I’m not sure I would spend £7 on a disposable children’s magazine. Perhaps the way to look at it is to see Ploc as a children’s picture book (£7 for a picture book nowadays is fairly common), or once read, to cut out the pictures and frame them as art around your home. The illustrations are definitely lovely enough to warrant a place on your wall and then for several beautiful prints, perhaps £7 isn’t so much money.

Inside spread from the first issue of Ploc

For an alternative review of Ploc, do see what Library Mice had to say about it 🙂 Ploc has only just come on to the market so I will be interested to see how it develops.

Anorak is produced by the same team as Ploc, but has been established several years now and is aimed at older kids (5-10 years). As with Okido and Ploc, Anorak has very high production values and is simply a lovely object to hold and flick through. Each issue is themed (past topics have included Birds, Outdoors and Books).

Inside a typical issue you’ll find games, book, game and app reviews submitted by readers, short stories in various formats, poems, colouring in, craft tutorials and reviews of places to go, loosely based around the theme of each issue. M quite enjoyed this magazine, but my feeling was that she wasn’t quite ready for it; I think it would be enjoyed more by 8-11 year olds who are fluent readers, rather than 5-7 year olds who are still becoming confident readers.

Inside spread from recent issue of Anorak

Although not quite right for us at this stage, I’m sure we will revisit Anorak in a couple of year’s time, when it might well turn out to be just the ticket.

Anorak contains some advertising and has a cover price of £4.99 per issue, though a UK subscription for 8 issues will cost you £33 (£40 for Europe and £42 for the rest of the world).

Have you and your kids read any of these magazines? What were your favourite magazines as a child?

3 Responses

  1. Ooh we love Okido and Anorak! They really are great! (Reminds me, I held some back for Red Ted, time to get it out again). But haven’t heard of Ploc yet! Great… will go and investigate!

    Thank you!

    Maggy

  2. Hi Maggy, Ploc is really beautiful to look at – would be great put into frames in kids’ rooms, but didn’t quite hit the same heights for us as Okido

  3. I think there is a massive gap between Ploc and Anorak, age-wise. Ploc is very “young” while Anorak is quite challenging. I must look into Okido again as my son was too young when I first looked into it.
    Magazines in general are very expensive in this country; when I see that most Barbie/Disney/Ben 10/Doctor Who etc magazines are £2.99 a week or a fortnight, I am flabbergasted!

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