Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TOS Review: Nature Friend Magazine

I've had pretty fair success finding somewhat decent magazines for preschoolers over the years. Sweet little puzzle magazines, simple story magazines, things like that. But once the kids reached school-age, it became a whole other story.

Most magazines for children dig into the issues that are first and foremost on the minds of the masses. There are plenty of literary magazines out there for kids ... as long as you don't mind the fact that a good portion of the stories may revolve around topics that many a Christian parent would flinch at. There are plenty of pop culture magazines out there ... as long as you don't mind the fact that a good portion of the ads will be bordering on inappropriate. And, of course, there are plenty of animal magazines out there ... as long as you don't mind that most of the content will have an anti-Creation slant that leaves you playing "counter the theories" after each issue hits your doorstep.

Into this void comes Nature Friend Magazine, a sweetly-written, beautifully photographed glossy magazine that brings a Creationist perspective to children of all ages. This magazine is lovely; the photography is visually stunning, and the design and layout are clean and appealing. My older children were amazed with the images captured in each of our free sample issues: an owl, mid-swoop, or a bird, dangling daintily as he built his nest. The colors were vibrant, the situations fascinating, and the themes engaging.

The articles were informative but not horribly entertaining; the lure, my kids said, was seeing the images, then digging out one of our animal encyclopedias and learning more. I'm not sure that this is a huge selling point--a magazine that children find less engaging than an encyclopedia? Or maybe it says more about my own family--we do, after all, tend to find the seed of an idea and follow it to the deeper kernel of knowledge we're looking for.

The drawback? Nature Friend Magazine costs $36 for a year's subscription. That's just 12 issues of a fairly thin magazine for a fairly hefty price. The bigger drawback? On closer inspection, I realized that my free review issues contained 8 pages of study guide each; the study guides aren't included in the subscription price, either. To receive what I actually thought was the "meat" of the magazine, you'd have to pay an additional $24 per year. Grand total: $60 for 12 issues of an animal-themed kids magazine. That's a little rich for my blood. (Please note that the reason the magazine is so expensive is that it does not sell outside advertising. That means that there is no ad content on the pages your child sees!)

Yes--Nature Friend Magazine is beautiful. It features some of the most stunning animal photography I've seen in a while--even when compared to animal magazines designed for the adult market. But the majority of the text, puzzles, learn-to-draw, and other educational elements aren't part of the main package. Without purchasing the study guide, you're left with a slim, but pretty, handful of pages of amazing nature photographs at a high price. Most homeschoolers I know just can't swing that.


ThyHandHathProvided said...

Thanks for this. I have been wondering about this magazine and you've answered a lot of my questions:-).

ThyHandHathProvided said...

Mary Grace,
I appreciate your reviews so much. I've been contacted to do one and am wondering if you have any words of wisdom for me.