Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Magazine For The Preschool Set

Did you get any magazines as a kid? I'm not talking about your grandmother's National Geographic that she gave you each month to "expand your mind", I mean magazines meant for kids. Growing up, there were two that were my staples throughout elementary school: Ranger Rick, and Highlights.

I loved Highlights magazine (now in its 60th year!). It helped improve my reading skills, it taught me fun craft ideas (my mom may never forgive me for emptying the milk into the sink to use the carton for a bird feeder), and it was entertaining. When it arrived in my mailbox each month, I'd immediately turn to the Hidden Pictures section and not move on until I found every single object. And who can forget Goofus and Gallant? (OK, I admit it - every now and then I was rooting for Goofus.)

My grandmother, in her enthusiastic effort to get Cordy reading as soon as possible, subscribed to Highlights for us. But Highlights is for elementary school kids, not preschoolers, and Cordy wasn't interested. We did a little internet checking, and soon found that Highlights now makes a magazine for the preschool (2-5) set: High Five. One quick call, and the subscription was switched to a more age appropriate choice.

Parent Bloggers asked me if I wanted to receive High Five to review, and I explained that I already received it, but would still be happy to join in for a review.

We love this magazine. It's full of stories, bright, colorful artwork, and games that keep Cordy entertained and nurture her natural curiosity. It doesn't assume that the child can already read, yet the text is simple and in a large font to encourage the beginning reader. The picture to word ratio is much higher than in Highlights, too, which helps a preschooler "read" the story without needing to know the words.

Some of the features I like best in Highlights are also present in High Five. They still have the Hidden Pictures, although these are far easier for little eyes to find. Crafts and cooking projects are still included, too - one of Cordy's favorites is building a paper chain caterpillar. Nature stories teach children about the world around them, and short poems and action rhymes introduce the ideas of rhyme and rhythm.

My favorite part of High Five are the English and Spanish stories. These stories are mostly in English, with Spanish phrases spoken by some of the characters. Thankfully, there is a guide for each phrase, instructing parents how to pronounce the words and giving a translation.

Each section of High Five is short (1-5 pages), so you can read a quick story with your child when you only have a moment (or if your kid has a short attention span, like mine), or snuggle into the couch and explore several stories and rhymes together if you have more time.

And unlike a book, a new issue of High Five is in our mailbox each month. I don't know about your preschoolers, but I can tell you mine loves to get mail. Like, jumps up and down and runs around the house clutching it to her chest and saying "I got a magiiiizzzinne!" kind of love. Seeing her face light up when I tell her she has mail, and then handing her a magazine filled with fun pictures, stories and crafts, is probably the best part of it. Now she has her own magazine to read, and won't need to steal my magazines to pretend she has mail.

I highly recommend High Five magazine. It provides new and interesting stories to read to your child each month, and encourages creativity through crafts and activities. And everyone loves getting mail, right?

Win a subscription! The Parent Bloggers network will be hosting a Blog Blast on March 7 and giving away a free subscription to either High Five or Highlights. Check their blog in early March for details!