Sometimes, no matter what great books we try to coax children into reading, they just can’t get through a chapter book. Struggling readers can be overwhelmed by the length of longer reading selections, and they need materials that can be completed in one session. Picture books work but may give the impression that they are intended for little kids. Magazine subscriptions are a great alternative for school aged kids who are reluctant or struggling readers.
- Magazines include short articles. A child does not have to read the entire magazine in one sitting to absorb the information, nor does the child have to remember details from day to day. He can read one article, digest the information from the one piece, then start over again at the next reading session.
- Magazines contain a variety of topics in any one issue. If a child is disinterested, he can move to another story within the same magazine. Often, students who struggle with reading will read just a few pages in a book, put it down, and look for another title. They start but never finish. Magazines give children a sense of completion whether they complete one article or the entire issue.
- Magazines contain bright illustrations and short blocks of text. Children can use the illustrations to aid comprehension. The illustrations provide clues about the content of the article. The shorter blocks of text allow for a “brain break” where children can summarize information before moving on to the next section of the article.
- Getting a new magazine each month is exciting. It offers new reading selections each month without the overwhelming experience of “how do I choose something” from the massive selection in a library or book store.
- Magazines offer an easy way to prompt a discussion. After reading an article, ask questions about what happened. Write down unfamiliar words and make guesses about the definition based on other information in the article. Create a group of words that are related to the central topic of the magazine. These activities will build reading comprehension skills and fluency.
There are a wide range of magazine selections available. Below is a list of some of my favorites.
Kids Discover — Each issue focuses on one central topic (like the solar system or Egypt). You can order a one year subscription, multiple copies of one issue (for a classroom), or multiple or single copies of back issues. (Click here to visit the website.)
High Five or Highlights — I remember this magazine from when I was little, and it is still around. High Five is intended for a younger audience (up to age 6) and contains short stories, pictures, poems, and word puzzles. Highlights is geared for an older child. It is a great magazine for emerging readers. (Click here to visit the website.)
Scholastic News — Scholastic offers a magazine that is targeted for each grade level from pre-k through high school. They also have choices that are geared towards a specific subject area. (Click here to visit the website.)
Cobblestone — This non-fiction magazine is part of the Cricket group. The articles are more text heavy than Kids Discover, but the topics the publisher chooses for each issue are high interest. Faces and Calliope are good choices too. (Click here to visit the website.)
Studies Weekly — This is in a newspaper style format. They offer science, world history, and math newspapers. It is intended for classroom use, but there are many parent resources on the website. They also offer an iPad version. (Click here to visit the website.)
Caitlin Tobin is a teacher mom who loves children’s literature. She currently teaches 4th grade language arts. You can read more about her helpful teacher mom tips at www.The-Room-Mom.com.