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Materials for Youth 11: Magazines
from Annette Lamb on Vimeo.
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Magazines are a wonderful way to encourage children and young adults to read. While some children don’t choose to read books for pleasure, they may pick up a magazine. Magazines may provide the first positive reading experience for some children. The short articles often have easy-to-read layouts and lots of illustrations to attract poor readers. They provide short, digestible chances of information.

With so many online sources, many libraries are reducing the number of print magazines they carry.

The Value of Magazines

digMagazine can be a pain for libraries. They’re expensive and a hassle to display and store. However, youth love magazines.

Children and young adults love magazines because they (Irwin, 2013):

Young people who don’t like to read books often like to read magazines. Magazines can also be the source of a child’s first success with reading. Easy-to-read layouts and illustrations are perfect tools for those who read poorly. Also, magazines often provide short, digestible chunks of information (Nilsen and Donelson, 2001).

Increasingly magazines are being offered electronically. Unfortunately, handling electronic subscriptions can be a hassle. However, access to databases is improving, so consider easy ways for youth to access their favorite magazines online.

Magazines for Children

cobblestoneMany magazines are geared specifically to children. While some are popular for leisure reading, others are more likely to be used by parents or teachers with their children.

Many elementary teachers incorporate Cobblestone (website) articles into the social studies classroom.

Keep in mind the language needs of the children in your area. Iguana (Ages 7-12) and Vamos! are Spanish language magazines. Many other magazines such as Ask, Babybug, and Ladybug are also available in Spanish.

campingAnnette's Anecdotes
When I was young, I looked forward to receiving my copy of Highlights in the mail. The Goofus & Gallant cartoons taught social skills that I found useful in everyday life. However, the Hidden Pictures featured in each issue were my favorite element.

What magazines do you remember from childhood? Do you remember getting them in the mail?

Magazines for Young Adults

madAlthough some magazines are designed specifically for young adults, many teens refer to read adult magazines.

Many magazines designed for adults are also popular with youth such as Car and Driver, Cat Fancy, Consumer Reports, Dog Fancy, Mental Floss, National Geographic, People, Rolling Stone and WWE.

campingAnnette's Anecdotes
While other girls were reading Seventeen and worrying about their hair, I was reading MAD Magazine. I thought the comics were cool and the political commentary was compelling.

I particularly enjoyed the satirical elements that played with popular culture related to books, music, movies, and celebrities. It's probably the reason I enjoy reading The Onion today.

What magazines did you read as a teen? Are you still attracted to this type of reading experience?

Evaluation of Magazines

Purchasing magazines takes some planning. Here are a few suggestions as to how to go about selecting magazines for your library (Irwin, 2013):

Also, you may want to consider using a serials jobber, such as EBSCO. Jobbers are a kind of “middle-man” that allow you to order several periodicals, usually cheaply, and act as the customer service for each publisher. This, of course can save your library money and reduce the time-consuming task of ordering and renewing magazine-by-magazine.


Irwin, Marilyn (2013). Materials for Youth. Lecture notes.

Jones, P. (2003). Overcoming the obstacle course: teenage boys and reading.
Teacher Librarian, 30(3), 9-13.

Nilsen, A. C. & Donelson, K. L. (2001). Literature for Today’s Young Adults.
New York: Addison-Wesley Longman.

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