Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Children’s Nonfiction Magazines – Part I

Happy 1st Birthday INK! And all praise to Linda Salzman for her indefatigable devotion to the cause of nonfiction. This past year we’ve read about dozens of good nonfiction books for kids. But there’s another source of great nonfiction – kids’ magazines. I want to spend my next two blogs reviewing some of them, and hope that readers will add even more. This month I will focus on history and culture, next month on science and nature.

Carus Publications, founder of the venerable Cricket magazine group which mixes fiction and nonfiction, publishes the also-venerable Cobblestone group. While these magazines are naturals for classrooms and libraries, they also bring a wide variety of colorful and up-to date information and activities to kids at home. Each large-format issue focuses on one theme, with short and long articles, sidebars, activities, and plentiful illustrations.

A recent issue of APPLESEEDS , meant for grades 3 and above, focused on food. Its 32 pages of articles ranged from nutrition, to how food is digested, to schoolyard gardens, to international food-aid groups. World-wide food culture was highlighted in features on bread, pizza, noodles, and what kids from various countries eat for breakfast and lunch. History, science, and social studies are well-served. Future 2009 issues will cover poetry, robots, Jane Goodall, spies, and more.

COBBLESTONE focuses on U.S. History for grades 4 and up. An issue on Voices for Peace traced grass-roots opposition to every war in our history – from the Quakers in the Revolution, to Congressmen in the Mexican American War, to nuclear disarmanent in the 1950s, Vietnam in the 1960s, and Iraq today. Features on forming a peace group and using the web are presented, and a resource page of books, websites, and places to visit prompts further research. COBBLESTONE themes, while always historical, are not all political. Upcoming issues will focus on the Brooklyn Bridge and baseball.

Exploring world history, is the sub-title of CALLIOPE, written for grades four and up. A recent issue called A World of Faith featured several articles on each of five major religions, describing history, theology, practices, and holiday celebrations. Further resources, including previous CALLIOPE issues are listed. Themes for future issues include people (Queen Isabella and Michelangelo,) places (Great Wall of China, the Pathenon,) and miscellaneous (meaning of numbers, Aesop (did he exist?) and his fables.)

FACES, for grades 4 and up, also offers an international cultural perspective, but emphasizes contemporary life. Many issues focus on one country. The current Brazil issues present national heroes, favorite sports, food, Carnival, and efforts to save the Amazon rain forest. An ongoing series “XX Around the World” chooses themes like music, play, family life, and food.

My intention in reviewing these magazines is not just to let teachers and librarians know about them, but to encourage writers to write for them. gives editorial and illustration guidelines, and lists of upcoming themes and deadlines for queries. You can also browse through an entire issue of each magazine on the website. Unpublished authors may find it easier to sell a magazine article than to sell a book manuscript, since many articles are needed for these monthly and bimonthly magazines. A few such credits on your résumé will impress book editors as well. As a published author, I have been able to write on topics I have already researched, and thus get a little more publicity for my book on the same subject.

Whoever you are – reader, teacher, librarian, or writer – explore the wonderful world of kid’s nonfiction magazines. And do leave your comments about these or other history/culture magazines.

1 comment:

Ben said...

You should post about Muse. It's my favorite non-fiction magazine.

Ben, age 8