Circle Time Circle Time
The Best Magazines for Kids

Babybug -- Ladybug -- Sesame Street
Your Big Backyard -- Crayola Kids
        When I was a child, there wasn't much in the way of magazines for children. About the only time I saw a magazine geared to my age was during trips to the dentist or the pediatrician, when I would thumb through the tattered remains of a Highlights for Children, dreading to hear the receptionist call my name. I never had time to read the whole magazine, and my favorite part, the hidden pictures, had already been found and circled by someone else.
        Kids today are a lot luckier. There are dozens of magazines published just for them. We've picked out what we think are the best and listed them for you below.
Kathy Bennett

Infants and toddlers
Babybug ®
        Babybug, a cross between a magazine and a board book, is aimed at kids between the ages of six months and two years. Published every six weeks, it is smaller than most magazines (6 1/4 by 7 inches), and has cardboard pages with rounded corners and no staples instead of the usual glossy magazine stock. I gave a copy to an 18 month old terrorist I know and, try as he might, he could not destroy it.
        Every issue I've seen has an episode of Kim and Carrots, a true-to-life storyline about a toddler and a stuffed toy rabbit. In addition, there are several other stories and rhymes, each with first class illustrations. Averaging one to two pages long, the stories are just right for a toddler's minuscule attention-span.
        Babybug is published by Carus Publishing, The Cricket Magazine Group, the same folks who publish Ladybug, Spider, and Cricket. For subscription information, see the Cricket Magazine page.
Top of Page   --   This Review Copyright © 1998 by Kathy Bennett (

Ladybug ®
        Ladybug, the next step up from Babybug (see above), is geared for kids ages two to six. Like Babybug, Ladybug has first class illustrations and stories for reading aloud. It also has simple stories for beginning readers to tackle on their own. There are also poems, activity pages, and comics, including the continuing adventures of Molly and Emmett, a girl and her cat.
        Near the end of the magazine, there is a special section for parents, which contains a parenting article, a list of recommended books, and more activities to share with the kids.
        Ladybug's advertising says it "opens the door to reading," and it certainly does that. The text and illustrations are so inviting that once you open this magazine, neither you nor your child will want to stop until you've savored it from cover to cover. For subscription information, see the Cricket Magazine page.
Top of Page   --   This Review Copyright © 1998 by Kathy Bennett (

Sesame Street ®
        Whenever my kids find the latest issue of Sesame Street in the mailbox, they race back to the kitchen table with it for an immediate read-through. Sesame Street is a monthly aimed at kids two to six, and although it's populated by the characters from the public television show, your kids don't have to be regular watchers in order to enjoy the magazine (we get fuzzy reception on two commercial channels from 90 to 120 miles away, and have no cable or dish, and consequently no public television ).
        Each issue is built around a central theme, which is developed in stories, poems, pictures, drawing opportunities, and games. My daughter loves the games, especially when she gets to practice her scissor skills and cut out game pieces. Of course, it wouldn't be Sesame Street if there weren't a featured letter and number each month.
        My favorite part of our Sesame Street subscription is that along with the kids' magazine, we get an issue of Sesame Street Parents. The parents' magazine tells about the theme of the kids' magazine and offers hints on how to expand that theme at home. In addition, the magazine is chock-full of great information for parents. You'll find several feature articles (my latest issue covered radon, bad habits, low-fat eating, and how to answer "where do babies come from?"), as well as regular departments ranging from family computing to cooking. There are also short articles on child-raising topics grouped by age, from infants to eleven year olds.
        For subscription information, see the Sesame Street page.
Top of Page   --   This Review Copyright © 1998 by Kathy Bennett (

Your Big Backyard ®
        Published by the National Wildlife Federation, Your Big Backyard is a monthly geared to three to six year old animal lovers. Each issue is filled with stunning up-close photos of all sorts of animals and interesting animal facts. My kids have tacked up several of this magazine's monthly pull-out posters on their bedroom walls.
        In addition to the fantastic photographs, Your Big Backyard also offers activity pages, poems, and a read aloud story. In the center of the magazine you'll find a pull-out parents guide with more information about the animals and activities on the kids pages. For more information about Your Big Backyard, check out the National Wildlife Federation's Your Big Backyard website.
Top of Page   --   This Review Copyright © 1998 by Kathy Bennett (

Kindergarten and above
Crayola Kids ®
        You'd expect a magazine named after a crayon to be pretty colorful, and Crayola Kids doesn't disappoint -- it's a monthly visual delight of vibrantly-illustrated articles, puzzles, games, mazes, craft ideas, and more. Although the magazine itself doesn't specify an age range, I'd recommend it for kids age five to ten. The crafts and puzzles are definitely geared towards kids this age rather than preschoolers.
        Like other magazines recommended on this list, Crayola Kids takes one theme each issue and explores it in a variety of ways. One of my favorite features of this magazine is the Family Reading Corner, which each month reprints a quality picture book. After the book, there's a brief interview with the author or illustrator, plus a space for your child to write to and draw a picture for that person in care of the magazine. We haven't tried it yet at my house, but Crayola Kids promises you'll get a reply.
Top of Page   --   This Review Copyright © 1998 by Kathy Bennett (

  Coming in our next issue -- The Best Magazines for Parents
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