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children's literacy

A Quality Advertisement-Free Magazine for Children? Yes, Please! (Storytime Magazine Review + Discount)

Disclaimer:  We were sent copies of Storytime Magazine for the purpose of this review, however as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Two years ago, I was introduced to Storytime Magazine and wrote a review here on the blog.  I’m pleased to share Storytime Magazine has managed to stick to their strict rule of not including any advertisements or plastic toys.  It’s still the same quality, thought-provoking and entertaining content they had since their initial publication!

Storytime Magazine is one of the UK’s biggest subscription magazines for kids of all ages which is also available to subscribers worldwide. It’s packed with fairy tales, new stories, funny poems, myths & legends, gorgeous illustrations, puzzles, games and much more!

Every issue of Storytime features classic, new and much-loved stories with beautiful original illustrations, plus storytelling tips and activities to help you bring our stories to life. You can read our stories out loud to your children or, as they get older or grow more confident, you can encourage them to read to you, depending on their reading level.

I’m pleased with the amount of diversity featured in many of their magazines.  Although you will find some classic stories and fairy tales like Mother Goose, they also offer tales from around the world like Zuleika’s Gift featuring a little girl from Saudia Arabia.  Issue 46 also has a mythical story called The Eight-Headed Dragon which takes place in Japan.  Issue 42 has a beautiful African (Zulu) story about a woman named Manzandaba ho was married to a man named Zenzele.  There are even sidenotes that explain some vocabulary words and provide additional background information.  For example, it tells you how to say the phrase ‘Once upon a time’ the Zulu way which is ‘Kwasuka sukela’.

Just like reading books, magazines play an important role in improving childhood literacy.  Experts now agree that including them in the reading mix, alongside books, is crucial – especially for those children who feel overwhelmed when facing a whole book.  Each issue of Storytime Magazine is like getting seven brilliant books in one! Every month you get six magical stories for kids plus one or two poems, all beautifully illustrated on high quality, glossy paper.

Storytime Magazine also offers FREE printable downloads – masks, fingers puppets, recipes and games – to use in conjunction with the magazine and in school lessons.  Simply go to their website and download the printable templates to use with your little readers.  We enjoyed designing and decorating our own sandcastles using the Sandcastle Challenge Sheet (issue 48) and playing the Help a Hen game (issue 47).

It’s also worth mentioning that although this magazine is made for children of all ages, I think it’s best suited to be read aloud with children during story time.  That’s especially true for younger readers between ages birth to 6 years.  Although the stories are great, each one takes up at least 3-6 pages in the magazine, depending on the story.  As children get older and learn to read, they will be able to read the magazine on their own without much assistance.  We like to read this magazine a little at a time over the course of a few days.  Some days we’ll read some of the stories or poems and other days we’ll do one of the activities.  I find it’s a nice way to mix it up and enjoy it without trying to read the whole thing in one or two sittings.

Is there a discount?
Storytime Magazine is currently offering Here Wee Read readers and subscribers worldwide a 10 % discount off their annual price for 12 issues.  There is also an option to just order 4 of their most recent issues.  Click here for the discount and to see their different pricing options based on your region.

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Your turn: Have you read this magazine with your little readers yet?  If not, are you excited to check it out?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's literacy

6 Children’s Magazines for Babies to Nine Year-Olds

Last December I began checking out children’s magazines to read aloud to the kids.  I saw a magazine on display at the library one day and decided to skim through it.  Needless to say, I liked what I saw so I immediately started browsing through some of the other magazines and ended up checking out ten by the time I was done.

I want my children to have a varied reading diet that exposes them to different types of reading material and helps them make connections with the real world. That’s important to me and I know it will benefit them in the future.

As I’ve been reading these children’s magazines over the past five months, I’ve come to realize a few surprising things:

  • A wonderful feature about children’s magazines is their format. They don’t tend to have long items of text. Instead you find short stories, short articles, text boxes with bullet points, illustrations with captions – lots of snippets and textual treats for little ones. For a child who is beginning to read independently, but not sold on the whole reading thing, a chapter book might be off-putting. The format of magazines may be much more attractive.  Food for thought for those of you with older kids.
  • In magazines, you can find articles that further children’s knowledge and interest in all sorts of topics, from pets to gardening. You’ll find different text types too – narratives, recounts and recipes all of it aimed at their interests.
  • Magazines are an excellent vehicle for teaching kids elements of visual literacy. They’re a great source of maps, tables, illustrations, graphs, pie charts, labels, captions, cartoons, and diagrams.
  • I introduced the kids to some new vocabulary words that I probably wouldn’t have come across in some of the books we read.
  • My daughter has become familiar with the different parts of a magazine, like the cover story, the table of contents, the date, and page numbers.

Pretty cool, huh?

Here are some magazines I recommend:

Babybug Magazine
Ages 6 mos.–3 yrs.
This board-book style magazine offers babies simple stories and rhymes with lots of photos. It features regular characters, like Kim and Carrots, and includes a page of read-aloud tips and child development info on a page just for caregivers.  Made with nontoxic ink, rounded corners, and no staples.  This magazine is a favorite for both of my kids!

Highlights High Five Magazine
Ages 2–6
Stories, poems, “The Adventures of Spot” comic strip, and activities like looking for hidden objects in pictures appear in each issue. Also included are a read-aloud story in English and Spanish and a removable activity section.  (I also learned there is a sister magazine called Highlights Hello aimed at kids ages birth – 2.)

Ladybug Magazine
Ages 3-6
This magazine offers enchanting stories and poems to read aloud that are just the right length for a cozy cuddle and is sure to spark young imaginations and develop a love of reading that will last a lifetime.  Another favorite!

National Geographic Little Kids
Ages 3-6
Sized for small hands, this magazine is packed with color photographs, animal stories, features about different cultures, simple science activities, puzzles and games. A recent issue asks why mother kangaroos have pouches and has an activity to help children explore the sense of taste.  This is another favorite!

Ranger Rick Jr.
Ages 3-7
Through color photos, stories, illustrations, and games, children learn about nature, animals, and the world around them. Each issue features lots of animal photos, easy-to-follow text, a pull-out poster, games, jokes, and drawing activities.

Ask Magazine
Ages 6-9
Ask is a magazine about science, history, inventors, artists, and more, all written just for 6- to 9-year-olds – the most curious people on the planet!

There are so many other children’s magazines you could choose from.  I’m excited to know there is an assortment of magazines that focus on various topics including social studies, cooking, sports, and history that are both educational and entertaining.

Your turn:  Do you give your kids access to a wide range of reading material which includes magazines?  What children’s magazines would you recommend?