Let’s face it, this Christmas it is harder than ever to find the right gift. Especially if you want to support small businesses and independent producers and particularly tricky if you want to buy for children.
Sometimes the gift that keeps giving is a magazine subscription, but not a plastic toot accompanied advert riddled magazine you can pick off the supermarket shelves, something with a little more effort, something with more value that enriches a child’s view of the world and understanding of topics.
We have subscribed the Fae to a few different independent magazines over the years and so these recommendations come with a personal experience.
We personally prefer magazines that
- have enriching educational or development value whether that be literacy, STEM, or simply encouraging thought
- and have no or only carefully chosen content relevant advertisements.
There are also some deals currently if you buy a subscription of some of these magazines- NONE of these are affiliate links. I make absolutely nothing if you click them and/or buy/subscribe these are all personal recommendations and links are purely for information/ease of access purposes.
If there are other childrens indie magazines you can recommend then please let us know in the comments.
Best for 3-8 year olds – OKIDO
-monthly issues with bumper issue for July-August 6/12 month options & worldwide shipping
We have subscribed to OKIDO since Tinyfae was 6 weeks old and we picked up some of the magazines for Littlefae in the orthopaedic hospital ‘Friends of’ shop.
Independently produced with ethical and sustainable focus in production, even in ‘colour me-in’ paper postage, zero advertisements and certainly collectible this is a magazine that will please parents who don’t want ‘throwaway’ magazines for younger children.
Each issue is themed with a strong slant towards STEM and personal development. I like the range of activities and media throughout the issue ranging from comic/graphic illustration stories to long prose, to infographics and activities and puzzles too.
We currently have 4 years worth of issues and with only a few issues that are similar in theme but completely new content and Littlefae still loves to read and do OKIDO at approaching 8, it’s a subscription that could certainly carry a child through from nursery to lower KS2.
Best for Home experiment enthusiasts: Whizz Pop Bang
One off & monthly rolling subscription options- ships Worldwide
This is a science/STEM based magazine but thanks again to its thematic approach occasionally wanders over into history with say its Ancient Egyptians issue.
This magazine is perfect for science mad primary school aged children who love to do experiments out of home experiment books such as Kitchen Experiment, Science is Magic etc but parents want a focus to the chaos! It’s also ideal for home educators and is certainly accessible and enjoyable for younger and older readers too.
In anticipation of publication, each month a kit list of easy available or household materials is emailed to make sure you have everything ready so no disappointed faces you’re raring to go.
Ideal for those moving on from say OKIDO this is bright and turn with lots of cartoony illustration, or to help theme or direct science tutoring or home educators it’s worth the investment to encourage STEM education outside the traditional learning context.
My in-laws gifted Littlefae a subscription on her last birthday and she has been enjoying this magazine for almost a year and to boot its completely advert, sponsorship and branding free plus is sustainably produced.
Ideal for the Bookish ‘hungry for knowledge’ tween : Scoop Magazine
Annual subscription for bi-monthly issues- digital and print subscription options & ships worldwide.
This is a new one to me –and hands up for clarity I received the latest issue for review purposes but all opinions are my own and I have received nothing more than a single issue– but I have to say I’m already impressed enough to sign up for a subscription and recommend it.
Similarly working with thematic issues there is a range of interpretations, storytelling and writing prompts based around different concepts and understandings of the theme that address, inform and push understanding within academic subjects such STEM, History, Social Issues but also philosophic and personal development too.
The promotion of literacy and reading based angle is a big draw for me too especially the reading prescription pages which help match children with their interests in books and child reviews of books.
But what impressed me further was the inclusion of different learning and reading with photojournalism and comic/graphic novel storytelling alongside traditional Long-form and the contributions from recognisable illustrated fiction and early middle grade authors (to me and Littlefae certainly!) whether it be through storytelling, jokes or short responses.
Ideal for the bookish child who is moving on from KS1 magazines and wants to round out and colour their knowledge rather than keep to the tick boxes and lines and brilliant for deep dive topics or self-directed learning for home educators. I think this will become a firm favourite as we discover more and more.
Best to stretch and inspire capable over 8s – AQUILA
4/12 month subscription options of Monthly issues with a July- August bumper issue posted to more than 100 countries worldwide including America, Australia & New Zealand.
I first came across AQUILA in a message board thanks to a home educator selling off old copies when Littlefae was far too young for them, and now, I wish I had bought them from her because every issue of this magazine is awesome.
AQUILA works in a similar way to the others in this list in that each issue is beautifully produced around a theme, here with a range of fiction and non-fiction stimulus, activities, thoughtful crafts and fun but there is a much higher stretch value underneath the content and many stories featured are by professional and recognisable (to the bookish) authors and writers.
This isn’t a ‘next step’ magazine from something like OKIDO though, it’s certainly more demanding in literacy, is cleverly layered using Bloom’s Taxonomy without being ‘schooly’ and as such has certain value past tween age- to be honest they are that good that I enjoy reading them.
We have ordered back issues too because they are just so packed with value and cover a wide range of topics and themes including philosophy, history, literacy and the ever present STEM without any branding or advertisements.
This is a magazine that Littlefae thoroughly enjoys, she is technically a little young for it, but her literacy level means she accesses it and the way it is opening her thinking is certainly worth the subscription over and over and the editions are collectible for Tinyfae in the future too.
So if you are struggling what to gift a child in these confusing times coupled with the challenges of lockdowns and such this may be the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
Have you tried any of these?
Do you think your school/library could benefit from them?
Do you have any recommendations for me?
We personally (one through my in-laws) subscribe to each and every one of these magazines, this is not a paid for slot or advertisement just a genuine opinion on each of these magazines though for transparency I did receive a review copy of Scoop but have gone on to subscribe.