June 6, 2006

Magazines For Babies, Anyone?

wild_animal_baby_mag.jpgLast fall, a good family friend got the kid a gift subscription to Wild Animal Baby, basically a baby magazine--for kids ages 6 months to 4 years--published by the National Wildlife Federation.

Who even knew that babies had magazines? Dads don't have magazines, but babies do. In fact, pre-preschool-age kids in the US have not just one, but two major [sic] magazines to choose from, and babies abroad have more than that. What's up with that?

Wild Animal Baby and its main competition, Babybug, are similar in size and format [24 pages of cardstock, no staples, boardbook size] and both magazines seem to serve as gateway drugs to their respective school-age counterparts: Ranger Rick and Cricket [cue major flashback here]

From what I can tell, both are equally saccharine and kind of cheesy, with stock photography of animals and textbooky illustrations, simple matching or color games, and a rhyme or two [almost as content-free as an adult magazine! hey!] The WAB one always starts with, well, a little story of wild animal babies and their moms--always with the moms, oy.

babybug_mag.jpgBabybug, seems to have slightly better illustrators--but cheese is cheese, whether it's Velveeta or supermarket Brie--and they also occasionally run actual nursery rhymes, too. There are no ads [except for their own products, like the other mags, books and DVD's.]

I've gotta say, as cheesy as they are, the kid LOVES them; she keeps hers stacked in her room, just like our stack of New Yorkers in the living room [the difference, of course, is that hers get read. a hundred times.] And she really loves getting something in the mail [I guess I could start signing her up for J. Crew catalogues... ]

WAB is $19.95/yr, and Babybug is $36/yr for 10 issues. There's also a baby magazine put out by French nuns [or by their publishing house, Bayard Presse] called Popi, but I've never seen it, either.

Does anyone else's kid get magazines? What do you think of this concept? Are there any that aren't total schlock? And wouldn't you rather have a baby magazine from someone like MoMA instead? Just thinking out loud here...

Wild Animal Baby magazine for babies [nwf.org/kids]
Babybug magazine for babies [cricketmag.com]
"Popi, les błębłęs ont aussi leur journal." [bayardpresse.com]


We got the WAB as gift from Grandma. The kid didn't care that he was getting mail every so often. Some of the color, animal memory recall-stuff was useful. Other than that it was a just a gnawing apparatus.

And you are correct... Dads are few and far between in this series.

I just came across Babybug and subscribed for our toddler within, like, 5 seconds. I'm pretty sure my purchase was influenced by fond memories of Cricket Magazine as a kid. ("Ooh, a gateway drug to Cricket Magazine" may have been an actual thought of mine.) And now, a Ranger Rick precursor, you say....

PS: I need to complain about "Parenting" magazine again. Tagline: "What really matters to moms". Yeah, screw you too.

[I added the bold for emphasis. Though I'm looking forward to a couple extra Father's Day! pages in the June issue. -ed.]

We get both magazines courtesy of each grandmother. DD liked BabyBug more when she was younger. The next one up doesn't seem to interest her as much (she's 33 months now). So we might switch to the more science oriented one when the time comes to renew.

The Wild Animal Baby continues to be a big hit. She loves animals and the variety of stuff is a little less cheesey.

The main advantage of these when she was an infant was getting a variety of reading material for us as parents without buying a new book. Oh and chewing material.

Cobalt got a gift subscription to the WAB magazine. We think of it as kind of half-fun/half-schlock (like most kids book, eh?). I think he really enjoys them. He's 19 months right now, and totally into books and magazines, no matter what they are, but he loves animals and can totally roar like a lion and does it to all the animals in the book.

Now, the cheesiest thing about the book, in my opinion, has got to be the non-race family in the stories towards the end.

Will we renew the subscription or get one for someone else? Most likely.

[Cobalt? Excuse me while I go update my Coolest Names EVAR list. -ed.]

We subscribed to Babybug, which our 14-month-old LOVES (and has loved since we got him a subscription at 6 months). It looks like some content is recycled from what they were printing in 1997, though, but hey, any book you haven't read is a new book.

There is vociferous debate in our house over whether Kim, the toddler in the "Kim and Carrots" story at the beginning of every issue, is a boy, a girl, or meant to be ambiguous.

Our co-op grocery store stocks Babybug and Ladybug. I don't see the appeal. Babybug is too simplistic for our 2-year-old and Ladybug is too advanced. As a gift, it's OK. If it were my wallet, I'd buy a few good books.

We get the most reading value absolutely free from our local library. The wife checks out 5 to 10 books every week and the kid wants them all read to her at least once a day (usually twice a day, by separately asking Mom and Dad).

I was actually going to email you about magazines today - is there really nothing out there for dads?

[don't even get me started. Probably the best magazine for dads... is Mothering. Go figure. -ed.]

Madeleine, 3 in July, gets the Sesame Street magazine that comes with one of the parent magazines. She also gets National Geographic Kids. She loves them both. Of course, she also loves any catalogue at all.

I wonder why a "Dad's" magazine has never been successful. I mean, there have been a few efforts but they've all flopped. What would the angle have to be for it to be successful? I find the Best Life is pretty much a dad's parenting mag in disguise. Thoughts?

Our 4-year-old loves Ladybug. It's innocuous. For her, the single coolest thing about the subscription is the fact that she gets a magazine in the mailbox just like mommy and daddy do. But she also loves every story, and it's innocuous even if the art is mostly cloying, so whatevs. Last year she got Click as a gift, which was a better magazine but a bit too advanced for her. (Fwiw, it did contain a regular dad-related feature, "Yo Wants to Know," in which Yo and his dad explore science-y things.) Our French-Canadian friends get the most beautiful, lively, vibrant-looking kid mag--i'll have to ask them what it is. It looks like a design magazine with a mix of stories told in photographs, cartoons and recipes and nifty marginalia. Tragically, it is in Fronch. Which I do not parle.

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