Magazines! Ah yes, the oft forgotten class of periodicals. Why some teachers and parents feel the need to constantly shove big fat novels and texts to reluctant readers, I’ll never understand. Similar to the prejudice against graphic novels, magazines are sometimes dismissed by adults as not “real” reading.
And that’s a shame- because there are some wonderful magazines out there for children. Their glossy pages, engaging photography and graphics, short articles, sidebars, and their ability to be read cover-to-cover in a short amount of time make them ideal candidates for reluctant readers. The format and length of the articles are not as intimidating as a traditional novel, and the sidebars, pictures, captions, and extra materials allow reluctant readers to veer off from the main text and explore periperhy topics at their leisure. For kids with short attention spans, single page articles are a good way to introduce them to new vocabulary and more sophisticated ideas without overwhelming them.
For young readers who have difficulty finishing novels, reading an entire article (or even an entire magazine) from cover to cover can be an incredibly empowering experience. Magazines, like high-interest non-fiction and graphic novels, can serve as “gateway materials” for reluctant readers. For some, an article in National Geographic Kidsmay lead them to Nic Bishop’s Spiders, which may lead them to Charlotte’s Web, and perhaps one day to Kafka’s Metamorphosis (a tad simplistic, but you get the idea).
Here’s just a few of my favorite magazines for children:
Ranger Rick…..a nature magazine produced by the National Wildlife Federation. Includes articles, pictures, photographs, games, riddles, and activities about natural history and zoology for early to mid-elementary school aged children.
Spider (also: Cricket and Ladybug)…..literary magazines filled with short stories, poems, short articles, and activities. Ladybug tends to be for Pre-K, Spider for mid-elementary, and Cricket for older-elementary.
Sports Illustrated for Kids…..like the grown-up version- but better! And, you know, without the swimsuit issue.
National Geographic Kids…..their mission is to “excite kids about their world.” Articles feature stories about wildlife, science, technology, extreme sports, amazing kids, and world wonders. Good for mid-to late elementary.
Muse…..science, history, and art with articles on everything from anthropology to zoology. The vocabulary and topics tend to be more geared towards late elementary readers.