Military Kids' LifeSpring 2017 Magazines
Kids in military families are members of a club with very specific rituals and rules. It's a club they didn't elect to join; nevertheless, Military Kids' Life offers them a periodical that gives them support and tips for flourishing in this mandatory club. The magazine includes several regular columns designed especially for concerns prevalent in military life. A "Pets" column recognizes the importance of a constant animal companion amidst change, and also offers guidelines for how to navigate the practicalities of moving animals frequently. The "Living In" column highlights a family's experience living in a particular post, often abroad, and discusses the adventures to be had at that post. The "Stay Strong" column features a military child coping with some specific challenge-sometimes a disability such as epilepsy or arthritis-and highlights the child's passion and commitment to an activity that helps him or her to deal with that challenge. Other columns feature reviews of various USOs, child-authored poetry about parental deployment, or tips for being a good guest while moving. Even features often found in other children's periodicals, such as puzzles and games, are framed especially for readers in the military community-for example, the game section is titled "Mandatory Fun," a title that might puzzle civilian readers, but that will make military families giggle in recognition.
Military Kids' Life is thoughtfully designed for its intended audience. It reliably includes feature stories that are both relevant to military families' lives and also interesting and entertaining. The publishers include the voices of military child readers in a variety of ways, including interviews, poems, and feature stories. Issues of disability are acknowledged and discussed far more in this magazine than in most other periodicals and literature for children, and are treated as part of everyday life (as, indeed, they are for many children not in military families). The editors also seem to have worked since last year to widen representations of racial diversity in the military families they profile. Notably, the locations most often featured are fairly exciting ones; I have not yet read an issue in which families discuss the experience of living in posts that are considered more desolate and less desirable. Similarly, discussion of challenges, sadness, and anxiety is generally cheery and upbeat, followed by advice about looking on the bright side and finding ways to pull strength and skills from rough situations. This approach glosses over the depth of some of the challenges military families can face; at the same time, it fits the military community ethos. Many intended readers will appreciate the magazine's optimistic tone, while also appreciating the opportunity to find some reflection and acknowledgment of their lives.