Summer is upon us and while I always picture long days of my kids lazing around and slurping watermelon juice from their arms and amusing themselves with nothing more than chalk and bubble wands, I know that sometimes we all need a little bit of help in the way of diversions.
I loved magazine subscriptions as a kid and especially after a year when we so often needed screens to play the role of caregiver and teacher and friend, I’ve been eager to kindle a bit of love for magazines.
To pass the time during long car rides or summer thunderstorms or anytime that summer heat calls for stillness, here are four beautiful kids magazines for jump-starting the imagination, satisfying curiosity, and challenging the status quo.
Illustoria Magazine, now published by McSweeney’s, was founded as a “high-quality print publication for creative kids & their grownups to slow down and enjoy stories, art, and activities as a counter to our fast-paced, digital age.”
Every Illustoria issue is filled with interviews, comics, projects, stories, games, jokes and recipes and each one is a visual and creative feast. A huge range of kid and adult contributors each lend their unique perspective and aesthetic to fantastically rich pages. Designed for all ages, but especially for kids 6-12. Head to McSweeney’s to place an order. Follow @Illustoria_Mag on Instagram.
Ditto Kids is on a mission to help parents, educators, and caregivers guide children on the journey toward being actively anti-racist. Ditto Kids combines decolonized history and culture with anti-bias educational goals to help adults tackle big subjects with little kids in an age-appropriate way. Each issue explores a different country and culture and teaches children and caregivers the skills to identify and address inequity.
Ditto is filled with activities, cheerful worksheets and conversation prompts. This might not be a magazine that little kids are likely to pour over independently, but it’s an indispensable companion for parents and caregivers navigating crucial conversations. Issue Two, which focuses on cooperation and country of Mali, dropped earlier this month. Designed for kids age 3-12 and their caregivers. Follow @DittoKidsMagazine on Instagram.
Bravery celebrates trailblazing women who are diverse in ethnicity, race, ability, background, and interests. The beautifully designed issues are full of STEAM-centered craft ideas, recipes, experiments, and activities. (Parent warning: This might be household specific, but while extremely beautiful to behold, the gorgeous imagery and polished projects can sometimes prove challenging for kiddos wanting to recreate *exactly* what they see in the beautiful spreads.)
Aspirational or no, there’s lots to like here. Issue 15 dropped in late May and tells the story of abstract painter and activist, Bernice Bing. Designed for kids of every gender, ages 5-12. Follow @Bravery_Mag on Instagram.
Anorak and Dot
Anorak (designed for ages 6-12) and Dot (designed for ages 5 and under) magazines from the UK are both longtime favorites around here. Each issue is made with longevity in mind and is designed to be savored and returned to again and again. Filled with jokes (my kids’ very favorites), engaging images, and imaginative language, both magazines foster curiosity and creativity that meet kids right where they are. Current issues cover sharks and insects and past issues cover wide-ranging themes from kindness to museums to mammoths!
Anorak and Dot are both printed on recycled paper using vegetable ink. Spanish versions are also available. Plus, just in time for summer travel, they’ve launched a new podcast. Anorak: The Happy Podcast For Kids is now streaming wherever you listen to your podcasts! Follow @AnorakMag on Instagram.
Other current favorites to share? Please do!
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We subscribe to a few kids magazines, but my 6-year-old’s favorite is The Week Junior. It’s a weekly news magazine for kids, and my kiddo loves knowing about what’s going on in the world. It also highlights a website of the week and a recipe of the week, both of which he loves. The photos are beautiful. It also covers some things that my usual news outlets don’t, so I enjoy reading it too!
My kids love The Week jr too! We have also found great podcast, tv show, book, and movie recommendations. We don’t publicly consume the news in front of our kids, so I feel like it’s really helped them start to get a sense of how much is going on in the world all of the time!
Highlights and Cricket remain wholesome, happy, interesting magazines.
Also! Have you read this piece? https://electricliterature.com/the-secret-history-of-cricket-magazine-the-new-yorker-for-children/
Honest History magazine for kids looks really good, but we have not subscribed yet. Thank you for you great recommendations, as always
Hi Ellie, I had a chance to review Honest History for this piece and I love the concept and think they make some strides toward thoughtful historical analysis, but I found I didn’t love the execution enough to feel like I wanted to include it here.
Thank you so much for this post! This has encouraged me to subscribe to Anorak/Dot and Illustoria. We’ve been receiving Bravery and we love it, but the more I’m walking my first grader back and forth from school and hearing kids talking about their favorite ‘filters’ and video games, the more I’m doubling down on good ole’ fashioned childhood fun. Thanks for being a fellow parent in nyc who is working on the best kinds of summer distractions (bc we need them!)
Love getting new recommendations! Will see if my toddler is interested in DOT, the art work looks beautiful. Thank you!
I’ve been so impressed with Babybug that we’ve signed up for both Ladybug and Click (a science magazine) by the same Cricket Media. Also, another gem from the UK is A Year and a Day Magazine that is a seasonal magazine that comes out quarterly and is just so gorgeously illustrated and is one to keep for years!
Babybug is so lovely for the tiny ones to have a magazine too.
Long-time Canadian favourites for my son (and now my granddaughters) are Chirp, Chickadee, and Owl magazines for kids aged 3 -13. Full of jokes, nature, science, and art activities.
Do you enjoy magazine subscriptions for yourself? I remember the excitement of getting a fresh Highlights in the mail and would love something like that!
Right now we only subscribe to the New Yorker, but I think it’s time I subscribe to something to scratch a slightly more creative itch!
We subscribe to Honest History which is based out of California and is a quarterly magazine for kids (probably age range 6-12). My guys love it!
Just picked up Dot and Ditto. Might be a little ambitious to think my 3 and 2 year olds will sit for long with them, but at least I will. I can’t thank you enough for the indispensable resources you compile here. I recommend your blog to so many folks (and that they become a paying subscriber). Cheers to colorful, paper publications.
thanks so much, samantha!
My daughter and I both love Kazoo magazine:)
Click, Ask and Muse in ascending ages are science magazines, my daughter has especially loved Ask and Muse. And Babybug for babies! All ad free, of course!
Zoobooks ! Not about zoos 🙂
Love this list! I’ve never heard of Anorak and Dot and am excited to check it out. Thanks for sharing!
I second Highlights! I hadn’t seen one since I was young, so I wasn’t sure how up to date they were. I was so impressed by the most recent versions – diverse communities represented throughout, mask wearing in the images, etc. My 5 year old loves the activities too.
My 5 year old nephew loves Ranger Rick magazines, but I haven’t actually seen one myself.
Can’t wait to try Illustoria! I got my daughter a subscription to Storytime, another UK kids’ magazine, or her 7th birthday. It includes stories, vibrant illustrations, games, etc. Definitely recommend. We also get a number of French kids’ magazines, as my kids are bilingual (daddy is French), and I’m happy to share if anyone’s interested. Thanks for these great suggestions!
We love https://kazoomagazine.com/
My daughter loves Kazoo, too!
these look so fun! my sister and i used to get new moon and it was great. full of art and stories (historical, non-fiction, fiction…) by/about women + girls of all types, from all around the world. i haven’t read it since i was about 14 maybe, but it’s still available! (it’s for kids 8-14, so a bit older than yours are ready for, but something to keep in mind for the future, maybe.) 🙂
yes! my sisters and i got this too!
A Year and a Day from the UK is so lovely and wonderful! We’ve had fun going through this one every day. https://www.bellalunatoys.com/products/a-year-and-a-day-seasonal-magazine-children
gorgeous! thanks so much for sharing!
I love this list! I also recently discovering Kindling from the creators of Kinfolk. They just released their first issue and it’s very cute
This may be a bit of a niche for Canadian families or other families in French-English speaking households but we love Grilled Cheese Magazine. They have an issue for kids 2-4 and another one for kids 5 to 10 and they are always bilingual. In their 10th issue celebrating Inuit culture they even made it trilingual: English, French and Inuktitut! As part of the project, 2000 additional copies of that issue were also produced and distributed to the children of Nunavik.
I also discovered a UK magazine that looks amazing for older kids but haven’t had a chance to check any issues out yet: https://www.aquila.co.uk/ if anyone has read it would love to know how it holds up!
What a great list! We previously enjoyed Ladybug/Cricket per your recommendation. Excited to have such a great resource like Ditto for supportive conversations with my 5 year old! Thank you!
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