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



Spring 2014 Magazines
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Publisher: ePals Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

Ask magazine does a wonderful job of taking scientific ideas and concepts, and making them relevant for 6 to 9 year olds by telling stories.

From the first glance at the cover, our youth test group was drawn straight into the articles about animals and fossils and even the photo of the newly discovered Helicoprion- the shark with the incredibly weird looking spiral jaw-bone in Ask. In the same issue, they were fascinated by the story about the wild animals living in New York City.

The articles are fairly well balanced, and convey a lot of information in a reasonable amount of reading. One can discover the stinking corpse lily in one, and then hold a fascinating discussion about computer 'bugs' based on another one. Articles like the profile of Ada Lovelace explain her love of parallelograms, and how she explored and solved the problem of how to make a computer actually work. This piece started by talking about personal aspects of her life such as her relationship with her father, Lord Byron, and how her scientist mother, Annabella, believed that she could rescue Byron, and later Ada, from having a "dangerous imagination" that Annabella believed could drive them both mad.

These details help learners see these historical figures as real people. Hopefully Ask's future profiles of historical male figures offer the same insights to their relationships and personal lives. Overall, the magazines represent diversity in their content and in the people in photos and illustrations. Each of the issues reviewed included some information from another country, several different scientific disciplines, and both historical and current facts.

Though the publishers suggest a reading age of 6-9, there is reason to suggest it might work better for a slightly older age range, possibly 8-12. There is a lot of reading here, and a lot of great information, but a 6-year old might struggle to grasp all of the content. With an annual subscription price of $33.95, Ask is a bit pricey, but a wonderful way to build inquisitive minds and critical thinkers.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

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ePals Media

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