My mom usually gets Ebi-kun the National Geographic Kids Magazine subscription for Christmas and he really likes them BUT it annoys me with the amount of advertising and non geographic type crap that they put in there too. I know I am not alone with the annoyance of kids being bombarded with ads, it wouldn't be so bad if the ads they used were in keeping with the theme of the magazine - books, games, toys etc that fit in with the love of wildlife. Anyhow, I decided to have a look around at some other magazines, two that kept popping up were Anorak and Ploc.
Let's start with Ploc, it is targeted at smaller kids, I would say 3-6 year olds and it is illustrated by Alain Gree, whose work I am sure you will recognise. It reminds me very much of the books and annuals I had as a kid, there are lots of puzzles and games and things to cut out (I admit we will be copying the pages not cutting them out of the magazine, I can't bring myself to cut up books!)
There are also stories and information, all with great illustrations. Ebi-kun picked this up first and sat and read it, he said he liked it and pictures and quizzes were fun but then said it was too easy.
So we moved onto Anorak which is aimed at older kids, maybe 6 -12 year olds. Now forget Ebi-kun, I LOVE this magazine and is the sort of magazine I would love to write for. There is some advertising in there but it is minimal and certainly not in your face get-your-parents-to-buy-this-piece-of-plastic-crappy-junk kind of way.
The magazines are themed each time, I thought I would show you a couple of pages from the pirates/viking issue. There is stuff to make, reviews of places to visit, silly stories, colouring/quizzes, infomation and historical facts but presented in a fun way plus book and game reviews which are written by kids for kids. Ebi-kun really enjoyed reading the reviews and as you know I rely heavily on reviews for book buying.
The illustrations are a different style to Ploc but they are still fun and vibrant and they do include photos too. Another thing I really like is the paper quality, it is thick and will stand up well to kids unlike many kids magazines which are printed on that horrible flimsy paper that rips when you look at it. Ebi-kun likes how these magazines have a theme and really likes the stories and the book reviews but he said he didn't understand some of it (it was too difficult). I think part of the problem there is that his reading age is much higher than his actual age so he is kind of a level between the magazines for now.
As for the National Geographic Kids magazine, he loves the little snippets of facts that they have about animals and strange things around the world, the daft jokes and the great photos of bugs what he doesn't like is that the competitions are only ever open to UK residents and the closing date is usually over by the time we get the magazine, the delivery dates are not very reliable either.
So, it looks like we will be sticking with NG Kids for now, he still has all the back issues and often gets them out so I know he does enjoy them. I will be keeping an eye on the Anorak issues though and when I see one that I think he will especially like I will treat