Are you a fan of Highlights, the magazine made for children? I sure am.
Growing up, reading through the pages of the Highlights magazines at the pediatrician’s office was something I actually looked forward to (needless to say I didn’t look forward to seeing the doctor). My mom never subscribed to the magazine for me, even thought I asked her to for my birthday (I would ask “Santa” as well).
My neighbor across the street subscribed, so she used to give me the issues once she was done with them.
Fast forward to being an adult. To this day, I am still a fan of Highlights. I especially love their hidden pictures puzzles. The kids at work love those puzzles too.
Over the last 75 years, hundreds of thousands of children have written to Highlights sharing their hopes, fears, and dreams, as if they were writing to a trusted friend. It may be surprising to learn that from the very first letter, not a single submission from a child has gone unanswered. That’s amazing! That proves that the publishers of the magazine truly care about their subscribers. No other magazine I know of has ever done that.
“When we encourage kids to share their thoughts and feelings, they feel heard and validated—and they ask for the help they need,” says Christine French Cully, Editor in Chief and Chief Purpose Officer. “When we lean in and listen—consistently—we create for kids the warm, nurturing childhood they deserve and need to become independent, optimistic, and healthy adults.”
Highlights just published a new book called Dear Highlights: What Adults Can Learn from 75 Years of Letters and Conversations with Kids. I was sent a copy of the book to review.
Arranged thematically, Dear Highlights captures timeless themes that children consistently write in about such as family and friends, societal concerns (i.e., hunger, homelessness, climate change) biases and exclusion, as well as truly challenging experiences some kids face, including grief, loss, and abuse. The book is a treasure trove of information and insights that reveal kids’ concerns have changed very little over the decades. They have written about the same fundamental issues, hoping for adult guidance and encouragement.
I work with children, so I have plenty of experience talking with children from ages 5 – 13. I can tell you from experience, these are the things that children DO talk about, and their thoughts and concerns. You can tell that the letters in this book are authentic.
Some of the letters are from current times (there was one from a 4th grader who mentioned having to worry about keeping her Chrome book charged), as well as other letters that were probably written years (decades) ago, such as 1960 (I forget specifically what that letter was about).
The subjects of these letters transcend time, dealing with siblings, separated parents, parents that live far away, not fitting in, school issues, bullying and more.
Some of these letters are photocopies of actual letters, which was so sweet see. I especially love the drawings.
The letters are dated as well, so you can see how recently the letters were submitted to the publication.
With each letter you’ll also get to see how Highlights responded to the child. Their advice to children is spot on, and definitely appropriate for children (meaning it’s not advice you’d give an adult).
“Understanding, compassion, and respect are paramount—especially when responding to questions from children. No one has ever done this better than ‘Dear Highlights’,” states Advice Columnist, Amy Dickinson in her foreword for the book. “To read questions sent by children over the decades expressing concern over so many terrifying events…is a reminder of how important it is that adults respond honestly and with great care. To read questions about the quotidian concerns of childhood…is to absorb the beautiful universality of our more common experiences.”
Answering every child’s letter is rooted in the views of the cofounder of Highlights magazine, Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers. A child psychologist, lifelong educator and astute observer of children, Dr. Myers spoke directly with children encouraging kids to share their thoughts. Highlights saved these letters in a barn near their editorial offices until capacity. Recognizing the historical significance, the staff in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Ohio State University agreed to retain the letters in a special collection. The archive was the main source for most of the kids’ correspondence reproduced and excerpted in the book.
Even though the letters were written by children, and the responses given were written for children, adults can learn a thing or two as well. It gives adults an insight into what children really think about and how they view certain lift challenges. We, as adults, can learn a lot from children, just as much as they learn from us.
This book can be funny, cheerful, sad and hopeful.
I really love this book, so I am going to keep it in our family’s library. My kids are in their early 20’s, and right now I don’t think they would have an appreciation for this book. I am hoping when they have families of their own, they will enjoy reading this book as much as I have.
To learn more about this and other Highlights publications (books, magazine…), visit Shop.Highlights.com. You can also buy the book from Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble, Walmart and other retail locations.
You can also find Highlights on social media. All of those links are found on the bottom of the website.
*I received a free copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.