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
Magazine 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):
- are visual
- appeal to short attention spans
- speak to developing special interests
- are “socially acceptable” reading material
- contain information on important stuff like puppies, make-up, and cars
- feature fads and celebrities
- are written at an easy reading level
- are often not required reading
- often tie-in with movies, TV programs, and music
- are easy to carry
- allow them to dream and fantasize
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
Many 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.
- American Girl Magazine (website): Ages 8-12
- Appleseeds (website): Ages 8-11
- Ask for Kids (website): Ages 7-10
- Baby Bug (website): Ages 0-2
- Boy's Life (website): Ages 6-18
- Boys' Quest (website)
- Calliope (website): Ages 10+
- ChickaDEE (website): Ages 6-9
- Chirp (website): Ages 3-6
- Cicada (website): Ages 10+
- Click (website): Ages 3-7
- Cobblestone (website): Ages 9-14
- Cricket (website): Ages 10-14
- Crinkles: Ages 7-11
- Dig (website): Ages 10-14
- Discovery Girls (website): Ages 8-13
- Disney Adventures
- Disney Princess
- Fun for Kidz (website)
- Faces (website): Ages 10-14
- Highlights: Hello (website): Ages 0-2
- Highlights: High Five (website): Ages 2-6
- Highlights (website): Ages 6-12
- Hopscotch for Girls (website)
- Humpty Dumpty (website): Ages 5-7
- Jack and Jill (website): Ages 7-12
- Kid's Discover (website): Ages 7-12
- Kiki (website): Ages 8+
- Ladybug (website): Ages 3-6
- Muse (website): Ages 10-15
- National Geographic Kids (website): Ages 6-12
- National Geographic Little Kids (website): Ages 3-6
- New Moon (website): Ages 8-12
- Nick Jr. (website)
- Nickelodeon Magazine (website)
- Odyssey (website): Ages 10-14
- Owl (website): Ages 9-13
- Plays: Scripts for Young Actors (website)
- Ranger Rick (website): Ages 7-14
- Ranger Rick Jr. (website): Ages 4-7
- Sesame Street (website)
- Skipping Stones (website)
- Spider (website): Ages 7-9
- Sports Illustrated for Kids (website): Ages 8-14
- Stone Soup (website): Ages 8-13
- Thomas and Friends (website)
- Time for Kids (website)
- Turtle (website): Ages 2-4
- Zoobies (website): Ages 0-3
- Zootles (website): Ages 3-6
- Zoobooks (website): Ages 6-9
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.
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
Although some magazines are designed specifically for young adults, many teens refer to read adult magazines.
- Alternative Press (website)
- BMX Plus (website)
- ESPN (website)
- Fangoria (website)
- Game Informer (website)
- GL: Girl's Life (website)
- Justine (website)
- MAD (website)
- Make (website)
- Massive Online Gamer (website)
- Next Step U (website)
- Nintendo Power (website)
- Nylon (website)
- Nylon Guys (website)
- Otaku (website)
- PC Gamer (website)
- Seventeen (website)
- SLAM (website)
- Teen Vogue (website)
- Thrasher (website)
- Tiger Beat (website)
- Transworld Skateboarding (website)
- Young Money (website)
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.
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):
- Check out the magazine collections at other libraries. Visiting other library collections is also a good way to physically review magazines you are thinking of purchasing.
- Ask publishers to send you a complimentary issue.
- Survey patrons (including parents and teachers) for recommendations; however, make sure to review these suggestions before you purchase.
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.