Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Boys' Life magazine

Boys' Life magazine

Spring 2013 Magazines
Ages: 7 - 17 yrs.
Newsstand Price: $3.95
Subscription Price: $15.00 / 12 Issues

Under the magazine's cover title Boys' Life is the slogan "For All Boys." In fact, though many boys will find something of interest between its covers, this magazine is published by the Boy Scouts of America, and is designed originally and still largely for Boy Scouts.

Each issue pairs general interest features with scouting-related content. The "BL Workshop" pages provide step-by-step instructions for making things; the "Scouting Around" spreads are filled with short items about things Scouts need to know to earn merit badges; and the "Scouts in Action" cartoon tales tell of scouts who saved lives and earned BSA medals.

Some features cover topics that might be inviting to non-Scouts (such as "Backpacking on Bikes" and "Discovering Scuba") but they're invariably about a Boy Scout or Scout troops doing it and the photographs are of scouts in uniforms. And while the comic strip Pedro seems mostly generic, the comic strip Pee Wee Harris is all Scout-related. Teens pushing the older side of Boys' Life's demographic may be too old for those comic strips and the jokes at the end of each issue, but that content will still appeal to younger Cub Scouts.

There are a few non-Scout-specific features such as sand castle sculpting, a product piece on hiking boots, a story on cyber safety, as well as a lot of video gaming pieces such as a recent one comparing the upcoming Xbox 729 with the new Nintendo Wii U.

One thing parents should note is that Boys' Life contains a lot of ads. In the June 2012 issue alone, there are ads for a series of teen books, Star Wars G.U.M. toothbrushes (complete with coupon), the Eagle Scout Awards Ring (priced from $250-$1200), a DVD series "Scouting for Adventure," and other products. To its credit, AT&T placed a back cover PSA against texting while driving.

Boys' Life is well-written, and the features are nicely illustrated. Young boys will enjoy reading it, and, if they are not Scouts already, the magazine might tempt them to join the organization.

Don Oldenburg   ©2013 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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