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What's in the Mail? Something to Read


Getting a child her own magazine subscription can be a great way to get her to read. Who doesn't like getting mail? Kids will feel important pulling their periodical out of the mailbox.

Specialty magazines lure a child to read about his favorite subject; others cover a range of topics of general interest. Each type has allure in making reading a fun and varied experience. Recent issues of all of the following magazines were available in the newsstand of a major book chain.

Two ad-free magazines from the National Wildlife Federation bring the wonders of nature to children all year. While a child might like frogs or flowers, she might not consider reading about sea ducks or work horses. Until that magazine comes.

Old favorite Ranger Rick is a great magazine for curious readers ages 7 to 12. Full-color photography and interesting, factual articles complement puzzles, games, riddles, crafts and outdoor activities. The magazine uses humor liberally. A single issue packs in a lot of information and diversions for $2.25; a year of the monthly magazines is a bargain at $17.

The companion monthly for pre- and early readers ages 3 to 6 is Your Big Backyard, with much simpler language and more talking-animal stories. Each issue comes with a pullout section for adults on related fun-filled activities. Read-to-me stories are accompanied by those great photographs, even bigger here, and nature games and puzzles keep things light. Your Big Backyard includes a four-page pull-out for parents to supplement the reading with crafts, recipes and questions for family or classroom discussion. A single issue of the magazine is $2; a one-year subscription is $15.

Both magazines may be ordered from the National Wildlife Federation by calling (800) 477-5560. To get a taste of the magazine's contents, parents and kids can visit the National Wildlife Federation's Web site:


Adults who remember Cricket from their childhoods might be surprised to learn that the 26-year-old magazine for ages 9 to 14 now has a family of its own. And what a good-looking one it is--slick-covered and ad-free, with high-quality pages and top-notch writing and illustrations.

Ladybug is for ages 2-6, Spider for ages 6-9. Each issue of Ladybug--which is full of stories, poems, songs, games and adventures--includes an activity insert and a section for parents.

Even tykes ages 6 months to 2 years have their own 'zine, named, of course, Babybug; each brightly colored issue comes with suggestions for adults to read aloud, incorporating themes from each issue. Colorful illustrations and brief stories and rhymes introduce concepts such as big and little.

A single issue of Cricket, Spider, Ladybug or Babybug is about $5. An annual subscription to any is $35.97 for 12 issues, except Babybug, which publishes 10 times a year.

The folks at Cricket also publish Click, for ages 3 to 7, and Muse, which they tout as being like the Smithsonian magazine for children 8 to 14. A one-year subscription is $32.97 each, for 12 issues of Muse or 10 of Click.

To order any magazine from the Cricket group, call (800) 827-0227. To sample any of the magazines online, go to


Sports Illustrated for Kids is another example of a mind-expanding magazine, introducing readers to heroes from all sports. Action photos, colorful graphics and the nibbles-and-bits style for copy blocks makes the hyperactive format perfect for a TV-stimulated generation of readers with short attention spans. Still, great access to the athletes (thanks to big brother Sports Illustrated, no doubt) means interviews with top players and often insightful and inspiring stories delivered in a breezy style. Reader contests and surveys keep the fun interactive.

A subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids is $39.95 for one year (13 issues), but promotions can make it as low as $29.95. Single issues, $2.95, are available at many newsstands. To order, call (800) 336-0116. To sample the magazine, check out the Web site:

* For more on reading, see Section Gee for reviews written by children about their favorite books, and a new story for kids starting every Sunday. E6

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