Children's Literature (all forms)

Periodicals: A few questions

posted by Teresa Walls

As a child, I had subscriptions to Ranger Rick and Cricket, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I don’t recall a children’s periodical collection at my local library when I was growing up. Lately, my son and I have been checking out the periodicals at our local branch library. They have a nice collection which is in great shape. In fact, several magazines from 2005 look brand new. While American Girl never seems to be on the shelf, other gems are apparently overlooked.

So, I want to ask you a few questions. What periodicals do you make available for your patrons? Why? Is it a collection you promote? If so, how do you promote it?


  1. Jennifer

    When I first arrived at my library, we had parenting magazines mixed in with some misc. kids magazines. American Girl and Disney Magazines (which has been discontinued) were very worn, otherwise nothing looked used!

    With the encouragement of our director, our children’s magazine shelf now has:

    American Girl
    Boys’ Life
    Creative Kids
    Kids Discover
    Pack o’ Fun
    Ranger Rick
    Sports Illustrated for Kids
    Your Big Backyard

    While AG and Nick are the most popular, the other back issues do check out fairly regularly. Our library standards require a certain number of magazines, although they don’t specify childrens/teens/adult, plus, they’re excellent for reluctant readers and browsers. We don’t particularly promote the collection, although we purchased a better magazine rack – the one we had was awful and always in a mess. Also, our children’s magazines are shelved next to the tables where elementary kids hang out to work on homework with their parents and siblings and a lot of browsing goes on while they’re waiting.

  2. Claire

    I’m looking forward to seeing the responses here, as my periodicals circ heavily but could certainly be improved!

    In my small K-5 library, we subscribe to American Girl, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Nat’l Geographic for Kids, Zoobooks, Kids Discover, and New Moon. (We’d previously had two subscriptions to the diabolically popular American Girl, but last year I decided to substitute New Moon for one of them instead: the articles are smarter and also appealing, but boy do they need better covers!) I’ve allowed our subscriptions to Highlights and Ranger Rick to lapse: they never circulated, even when I shelf-talked them to kids. It drives me crazy that the most popular magazines are also so shamelessly peppered with ads, and that many of the ad-free magazines just don’t hold that much student interest.

    One big change that I’ve made recently is bringing in occasional magazines that aren’t targeted at kids but that have high student interest. A student brought in his dad’s old Sports Illustrated issues, and my magazine circ stats went through the roof. Sure, they required some surgery — I removed the donor’s identifying information and then all advertisements for alcohol and the military, as well as any overtly sexualized ads or articles — but my reluctant readers had good, articulate reasons why they preferred the adult SI to the kids’ version, mostly to do with college sports. If they’re so engaged that they’re willing to slog through and understand the text, I’m willing to circumvent tradition to get it to them.

    I’ve done the same with occasional issues of Make magazine and Craft magazine, which are only $20/yr for schools. The fact that both are aimed at DIY hipsters doesn’t make them less awesome for the (usually) girls who can’t get enough craft books and the (usually) boys who love The Way Things Work and DK books on spies and military planes. They’re just both so legitimately neat. With these, the Zoobooks, and the Kids Discover issues, I shelf-talk them just like I do with books… either to a class or to individual kids who I think might be into them. The advantage to “booktalking” a magazine to a class is that unlike with book booktalks, I have plenty of copies to go around.

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