Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beyond Highlights

OK, so the kids love the novelty that magazines bring into the house each month. They also like the portability for commuting and longer car trips. They have outgrown Highlights, but are not quite ready for The New Yorker. Where do you go from here?

National Geographic and Smithsonian aside -- can't beat those photos -- our hands-down favorite is Kids Discover. Each issue explores a different topic, from the Great Depression to the human brain to the Ice Age. It's written for kids, and tested by a kid review panel, which means it's clearly written, yet not dumbed down or pop-referential. The kids have been reading it cover to cover every month for about the last seven years, and they still love it. Best of all: NO ADS. None. Zip. Woo hoo!

You-know-who loves Fly Tyer, but it has somewhat limited appeal for the rest of us. 'Nuff said.

The techie in our house has been getting Popular Science for a couple of years now, and spends many hours holed up in his room with it. I'm pretty confident it's about the cool research and projects, and not the questionable ads in the back pages, and the rest of the family occasionally flips through and finds something worth sharing.

His latest Santa score is Make Magazine, similar to PopSci, but more do-it-yourself home tech. For example, you can learn to make, from spare parts, a tricycle upon which you can either mow your lawn or carry your toddlers and groceries in front of you. Or an electromagnetic aluminum levitator, hmmm... The latest issue carries an article and accompanying experiment/project on Alessandro Volta and Electrodeposition, yet it also contains such low-tech projects as DIY wooden buttons and soil blocks (for starting seedlings). The HowToon this month shows kids how to tell what time it is by using their hands in relation to the horizon. There is an online issue about which they alert you a couple of weeks before the print edition comes out, in case you just can't wait.

We tried Games Magazine, but most of the puzzles take too much concentration for my scattered brain cells, and the kids never took to it. It would be nice if someone were to come out with a brain games and puzzles magazine that is more sophisticated than Highlights, but not as tricky as Games.

What magazines do your kids enjoy? We'd love to know.