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Solve your Christmas Present dilemmas with this post

Posted on | October 17, 2011 | 12 Comments

Seriously. I know it’s only October but I’ve got one of M and J’s presents sorted and I’m confident what’s here today will do it for you and your kids too. Not only can you forget another plastic toy that will only annoy you with its flashing lights, I think you can even stop worrying about what books to buy to put under the tree…

So what’s the perfect gift, the one that will keep kids entertained all year, continue to excite them, encourage their curiosity and feed their understanding of the world?

A magazine. But not just any magazine, but one of the trio from Bayard: Story Box, Adventure Box or Discovery Box.



Story Box is a read-aloud magazine to share with 3-6 year-olds. Each 52 page issue contains an illustrated story (essentially an entire picture book), a comic strip, poems, animal and science pages “to encourage children’s curiosity and introduce them to scientific thinking”, and a selection of activities and games designed to help practise number and letter skills.

Adventure Box is the next step up and follows a similar structure with a comic strip, games and science pages but this time the longer story consists of chapters aimed at independent readers aged 6-9.

Discovery Box is aimed at 9-12 year olds and again contains stories and activities but has the strongest focus of all the magazines on animal, history and science topics.

All 3 magazines are produced with the utmost of care and attention to detail. These beautiful glossy magazines printed on nice thick paper (good for multiple readings) and are full of tremendous photos and illustrations. The photos easily match the quality of those in National Geographic Kids, and are actually more breathtaking for not being cluttered up with lots of small pieces of text or adverts.

An inside spread of a recent issue of Adventure Box

The illustrations are often from award winning artists; the copies I was sent included work by Rotraut Susanne Berner, Alison Lester and Marc Boutavant. The Box Magazines have great writing and art for children at their heart, supporting as they do the International Board on Books for Young People (an international non-profit organisation working to defend every child’s right to read).

M reading an issue of Story Box

The magazines are entirely advert free – I don’t know how they financially manage to do this, but as a parent I really value this aspect of the magazine. It’s a double bonus – not only do my kids avoid exposure to “stuff” that they don’t need, the magazines are 100% full of content, and excellent content at that too.

An inside spread of a recent issue of Story Box

Now I reviewed a lot of children’s magazines back in August so I feel pretty well placed to compare and contrast what’s available for (UK) kids, and whilst my kids and I still love Okido, this trio of magazines has shot to the top of my list of recommendations. It has the artwork and games of Okido and Ploc, it has the reading/literature content of Puffin Post, it has the information and knowledge I had hoped for from National Geographic Kids and it comes at a reasonable price.

Inside spread of a recent issue of Discovery Box

Any of the Box magazines cost £40 per year ie for 10 magazines for UK subscriptions, and it is available around the world at different rates (eg $60+tax a year in Canada, €66 a year on continental Europe). It works out at £4 per magazine which for the quality and quantity of what you get seems to me to be a bargain.

During a recent #fedbkgrp chat on Twitter we were discussing ways to engage reluctant readers and everyone agreed that magazines are often a great way to encourage everyone to read, but especially reluctant readers. I think these magazines would make a brilliant addition to any school or class library and I’ll certainly be talking to some parents at the school gates to see if they would be interested in clubbing together to buy a subscription for the girls’ school. Bayard is certainly keen to encourage school use of the magazines – they even produce classroom guides for each issue

So yes, one Christmas present sorted for each of my girls. I hope you’re persuaded to treat your family to these magazines – we really love them and can’t wait to read more over the coming months.

Disclosure: I received free copies of each magazine to review. My review, however, remains an honest appraisal of the magazines.

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Comments

12 Responses to “Solve your Christmas Present dilemmas with this post”

  1. Stacey
    October 17th, 2011 @ 1:44 am

    Agh!! Should I be thinking about Christmas? The magazines look great- thanks for sharing!

  2. Zoe
    October 17th, 2011 @ 7:14 am

    Sorry Stacey! The magazines really are excellent though, and Christmas is an excuse for lots of things in our home!

  3. Lucy
    October 17th, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    Thanks! Adventure box looks perfect for my son …

    Another great (and ad-free) childrens mag is Aquila – it’s aimed at 10-13 y.o.s – my daughter has been getting it for a couple of years now and there is still huge excitement every time the new edition lands through the letterbox.

  4. Library Mice
    October 17th, 2011 @ 9:16 am

    I am glad you liked them! I do think we have the edge in France when it comes to magazines. You should Je Bouquine and D’Lire, two magazines for kids especially about books and reading!

  5. sophie
    October 17th, 2011 @ 9:47 am

    Dear Zoe,
    We have red “the magic drawing story” but I cannot remember if it was in “les belles histoires” or in “pomme d’api”, both edited by bayard. We really enjoy “les belles histoires”, the stories are usually good, illustrations to, as you said, quite famous illustrators work for bayard. Armel is really happy to read zouk and polo (the comics) each month.
    here is the site for”les belles histoires”: http://www.belleshistoires.com

    I think the other magazines, for older kids, correspond to “youpi” and “astrapi”. I would say that their interest is variable (including “pomme d’api” whereas “les belles histoires” magazine is always nice). Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s less interesting, but I say that with my adult eye…

  6. Library Mice
    October 17th, 2011 @ 10:02 am

    It takes from both Les Belles Histoires and Pomme d’Api, for StoryBox anyway. I think Discovery Box is mainly from Astrapi.
    We had a Pomme d’Api years ago with a whole lot of illustrations by Hervé Tullet :0)

  7. Lynda Appuhamy
    October 17th, 2011 @ 10:10 am

    Zoe

    These magazines look great. I have been looking for something to wean my 6 yr old off Dr Who magazines – which he never reads.

    With a birthday at xmas as well these look like ideal presents

  8. Zoe
    October 17th, 2011 @ 10:37 am

    Hi Linda, these feel and look very special – not flimsy, throw-away paper so I think that helps.

  9. Zoe
    October 17th, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    Hi Lucy, Aquila http://www.aquila.co.uk/ is new to me, but looks really interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Zoe
    October 17th, 2011 @ 10:40 am

    Merci Library Mice et Sophie! It does seem that the French corner the market on great quality magazines.I’m so pleased to have discovered these (as is M!)

  11. Alice
    October 19th, 2011 @ 8:03 am

    My son is 5 but with a reading age of around 8, content wise would the discovery box one be too old for him-he doesn’t like too much “action” and gets scared easily! OR do you reckon the storybox is best?

  12. Zoe
    October 19th, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    Hi Alice, it’s hard to say without knowing your son, but I felt the material in all magazines was thoughtful and safe to let me kids read without me double checking first, so perhaps Discovery would be ok for your son.

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