Despite declining circulation, shrinking ad revenues, and the fact everyone has a smartphone, the world of children’s paper magazines remains rather robust (thanks to non-profits!). Some have been in business for 60 years (almost retirement time for Ranger Rick) and some bucked the trends and just started publishing (like Kazoo). As your kid runs to the mailbox to get the latest issues, you can wax nostalgic about when you used to grab everything from Archie comics to Mad Magazine from the supermarket checkout. Fortunately, these mags actually teach your kid something — and not just about why a ginger high schooler was always trying to get Betty and Veronica into a 3-way.
Written exclusively for girls between the ages of 5 and 10, Kazoo is about to go from limited indie press to bookstores and airport kiosks everywhere. Mom and long-time magazine editor Erin Bried saw the absence of worthwhile periodicals for powerful little women to be. So, she created a publication highlights badass women in STEM fields, experiments to do at home, and crafts that aren’t just throwing glitter and macaroni on construction paper.
Ages 5 – 10
Kazoo ($12.50/issue or $50 for quarterly subscription)
ChickaDee is sorta of like Reader’s Digest for kids. It offers a wide range of topics, like people and animal profiles (but sadly not people animals, like Pan), kid-friendly fiction, brain games, jokes, comics, and hot takes on topical kid stuff. And, like Reader’s Digest, they fit neatly on top of the potty.
Ages 6 – 9
National Geographic For Little Kids
From the makers of National Geographic and Nat Geo For Kids comes a periodical that is aimed at even younger kids. And, because this comes from the explorer society that has lasted for 128 years, you can bet your lost tribe hunting butt it’s full of factual information. Best case scenario: Your preschooler runs around with a fedora saying everything “belongs in a museum!”
Ages 3 – 6
National Geographic For Little Kids ($15/year)
Muse is a science and arts magazine for tweens that includes stories about the hip aspects of STEM education, think pieces about ladybugs and at least one kid’s narrative from her first Burning Man. It’s kind of like training wheels for when you bust out an Utne Reader, but without all the adds for Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.
Ages 9 – 14
Muse by Cricket ($34/year)
Bazoof has the standard comics, games, and wacky stories — but it also serves up a healthy-portion of information about clean living. Inside is information about nutrition, personal care, exercise, and general happiness. Think of Goop, but instead of Gwyneth Paltrow, there’s an totally-jacked alligator named Jerry that talks about blasting his quads.
Ages 8 – 12
In an effort to curb childhood obesity and hunger epidemics a group of non-profits and children’s hospitals created a cooking magazine aimed at kids. By addressing these young gourmets directly, the James Beard Award-winning ChopChop hopes to get kids to make healthier food choices. (And their own damn lunch for a change.)
Highlights has been printed since 1946 and it’s probably safe to say they’ve learned a thing or 2 about how to get kids all jazzed on reading (that’s old-timey for “excited”). Each 40-page issue has hours of activities, games, and stories that aim to fulfills its “Fun With a Purpose” motto. Also, it’s straight out of Columbus, Ohio, so you get wholesome Midwest values at no extra cost.
Ages: 6 – 12
As old as the mountains in its pages, you subscribe to Ranger Rick because it’s the longest-running children’s nature magazine. Produced by the National Wildlife Federation since 1976, the content has a conservationist bent and makes environmental issues accessible for third graders and climate change deniers alike.
Ranger Rick ($15/year)
New Moon Girls
It’s for girls, by girls — and if your boy wants to read it they’ll be ahead of you when it comes to understanding them. Behind the print and electronic editions is a mission to connect with young women in their tweens and teens. The younger edition has less feminine fiction and more activities than its older counterpart. But the spirit of showing your daughter she can throw that copy of Cosmo in the trash is still strong.
Ages: 9 – 16
New Moon Girls ($56/year and online access)
It’s essentially grownup news, made digestible for young mind. It’s like The Week, co-founders Sapna Satagopan and Joanne Suen break down the week’s news (minus the coverage of horrific things like Aleppo refugees) and deliver it to your kid. They’ve opted to forego the trappings of creating an actual print publication, but it’s probably for the best. How many kids do you known that can fold a newspaper for a commute?
Ages 6 – 12
Xyza News ($2/month digital)
Started in 1973 in Santa Cruz, California, Stone Soup is literary arts journal comprised entirely of stories, poems, and illustrations by kids. The Children’s Art Foundation — the nonprofit responsible for the publication — is dedicated to encouraging childhood creativity and puts out 6 issues a year. And unlike you, your kid can even get paid for their submissions. (Everybody knows the New Yorker cartoon contest is rigged.)
Ages 8 – 13
Stone Soup ($47/year + digital)
SI For Kids
If sports is one of the things that you and your kid bond over, then a subscription to SI For Kids is a no brainer. There’s a lot of hero worship in the pages, and it generally steers clear of sticky subjects like PEDs, domestic violence, and National Anthem protests. What it will do is get them up to speed in time to dominate on DraftKings For Kids (which isn’t a thing — yet).
Ages 8 – 13
SI For Kids ($20/year)