Magazine reccomendations for a pre-teen girl.
December 12, 2005 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me order a magazine subscription for a pre-teen girl. I know she reads and enjoys the "bubblegum" teen magazines her mother buys for her occasionally, but I think they're mindless crap.

I want to get her something that's hip and trendy without being trashy or "OMG BOYZ and SEX and STUFF". Any thoughts?
She's 11, enjoys soccer and basketball and her favorite school subjects are science and math.
posted by cosmicbandito to Media & Arts (37 answers total)
Wot about National Geographic? I always loved that as a kid, and still do. Even if it's just for the photographs, that's a start.
posted by xmutex at 9:42 AM on December 12, 2005

Oh, sorry, missed the 'hip and trendy' phrase.
posted by xmutex at 9:42 AM on December 12, 2005

So, you want to get her something you like, not something she likes? I second National Geographic.
posted by headspace at 9:44 AM on December 12, 2005

ReadyMade!, National Geographic, Wired, one of the more popular science magazines.
posted by fionab at 9:44 AM on December 12, 2005

Harpers, Architectural Digest, Wired, Art Forum, New Scientist.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:44 AM on December 12, 2005

The problem is, anything that's intended to be "hip and trendy" and aimed at 11 year olds will be regarded as lame by them. Teens and pre-teens always want to read something that's aimed at people 2-3 years older than them.

Therefore, I'd steer away from stuff that is meant to be hip and trendy to 11 year olds and go for something that's cool in its own right, even in a geeky way. If she likes science then I'd say that xmutex's suggestion of National Geographic is a good one. There are probably science magazines that are more geared towards children, but she might appreciate something that is less condescending. Ditto for sports magazines.
posted by Lotto at 9:46 AM on December 12, 2005

Jane magazine
posted by garbo at 9:46 AM on December 12, 2005

Bitch, Bust, Jane.
posted by box at 9:47 AM on December 12, 2005

My daughter (11 1/2) enjoyed American Girl mag for the past few years. It's very you-go-girl, positive, self-esteem building and all that. Lots of slumber-party ideas, arts and crafts, without being too precious.

If she's a bit more fashion-oriented, Teen Vogue has been pleasantly surprising for its relative lack of OMG! and SEX! and STUFF!. I've picked up copies at the campus recycle station and have passed them on to my daughter after reviewing. I just grabbed an issue from her room and looked at the TOC. There's lots of fashion, clothes, hair, and one "issue" feature about teen drinking: an article, "Should the Drinking Age be Lowered," and a first-person story from a girl whose brother died after driving drunk.
posted by SashaPT at 9:47 AM on December 12, 2005

I second ReadyMade, especially if she likes any sort of crafts or fashion. Its not exactly mainstream, but she could very well find it cool.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2005

garbo: from the Jane magazine website: "Your juciest sex tips" "Getting married?" Doesn't sound like an 11 year old should be reading it.
posted by Lotto at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2005

Oh dear lord, please tell me you're kidding about Jane. NOT appropriate for a pre-teen. Pretty graphic sex stuff in there, the last time I looked. Has the new editor toned it down a notch?
posted by SashaPT at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2005

My vote goes for New Moon. I read and loved that magazine from about ages 9-14. Also Reluctant Hero (I think that one is from Toronto). Both are, at least in part, written and produced by girls/young women.
posted by purplefiber at 9:52 AM on December 12, 2005

Stone Soup is a children's literary mag both aimed at and written by tweens.
posted by mendel at 9:52 AM on December 12, 2005

I'd second "Bust" if the girl were a little older, or if her parents are pretty liberal. I know that I'd have read it like the Bible at the age of eleven. It's not as sexually explicit as Jane, and in my opinion, a better magazine all around.

I really loved "Seventeen" as a young teen, and I don't think it's as cool now as it was then. But I've had the chance to glance through Teen Vogue, and it looks a little like Seventeen used to look.

God, I miss Sassy. But Bust is almost Sassy. Jane, on the other hand, should be ashamed of itself.
posted by padraigin at 9:54 AM on December 12, 2005

New Moon?
posted by speranza at 9:56 AM on December 12, 2005

Our friends' 11-year-old likes Nickelodeon Magazine and Sports Illustrated for Kids. There's also National Geographic for Kids.
posted by GaelFC at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2005

Seventeen has gotten a lot more like Teen Vogue in the past year or so- lots of layouts about affordable, cute clothes, and healthy eating. I really like it (and I'm, uh, not 17). So, that's my recommendation.

Didn't Consumer Reports used to do a magazine for kids? Title started with a Z? I loved that mag, but I don't think they make it anymore. Zillions, maybe? AHh, just googled it: stopped printing it in 2000. Too bad.

And JANE is NOT for children. Not even close. Glamour is much better (I liked Glamour when I was 11).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:08 AM on December 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

Also New Moon, a self-described feminist mag for girls 8-14; Girl's Life, a tween-safe trendy OMG BOYZ sort of thing, and Cricket, Muse, Faces and Odyssey -- literary, science-and-history, cultural, and science mags respectively from the same publisher.
posted by mendel at 10:14 AM on December 12, 2005

I really like Bust, but their "one-handed read" each month (fairly explicit porn, really) and many, many, many vibrator ads might raise the hackles of the girls' parents. I wouldn't get a subscription without checking with them.
posted by occhiblu at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2005

Full disclosure: my friend's the circulation manager. But Shameless sounds right up her alley.
posted by chrominance at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2005

Teen Vogue or Allure.
posted by gai at 10:19 AM on December 12, 2005

You're definitely thinking of Zillions, ThePinkSuperhero. Used to get that myself, and I thought it was pretty reasonable - it certainly taught me to be more skeptical of advertising, which is good.

Muse, perhaps? One of my younger siblings used to get that for a while. It's associated with the Smithsonian and has articles on a pretty huge range of subjects, including a lot of history and science. It's written so that kids can understand it, but some of the articles are pretty impressive. Unlike most other aimed-at-kids magazines I've seen, it didn't seem to be condescending. I enjoyed Scientific American and Science News at that age, but unless the girl is both interested in science and willing to tolerate some articles that go over her head, they may not be for her. Stay away from almost anything that's actually aimed at teenage girls - Seventeen and all those sorts of magazines are [or were, as they might've changed since I was 11] mostly along the lines of the 'bubblegum teen magazines' you talk about, but with more sex. [Are most 11 year olds really all that interested in fashion spreads and sex? I seem to remember girls mostly looking at that stuff early on in high school, not at 11. Even if the girl is interested in that kind of stuff, it sounds like her mother already occasionally buys her those sorts of magazines, so I'm not sure why people are suggesting more of them.]
posted by ubersturm at 10:23 AM on December 12, 2005

Why not give her a gift certificate (real or homemade) for the magazine of her choice? My mom, a former teacher, was really big on the Hooked on Books philosophy. The book is now out of print, but I read my mom's copy a few years ago. The idea is that you simply encourage children to read anything they want, while surrounding them with other choices. Many kids will bring comics, trashy magazines, and other materials you might not call literature. However, in most cases, the child will eventually become bored with those resources and move on to something more advanced. In cases where kids never move on, we should at least be happy that they're reading.

That being said, as long as you're not discouraging what she's already reading, I think any of the X for Teens publications would be good. But you might consider taking her to your local magazine stand and showing her the vast array of publications available. Most kids haven't spent much time at magazine racks and simply read whatever magazines their friends do. (And there is something to be said for reading what everyone else does.)
posted by acoutu at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2005

Thirding mendel and ubersturm's suggestions for Muse or Odyssey. The sample pages from Muse here should give you an idea of how it looks and reads. And the Muses are chicks, too, I'm just sayin'.

This orevious Ask MeFi thread (from which I got that Muse link) might also be useful.
posted by maudlin at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2005

Muse is great! I'm 22 and still read it when I'm home :) Very smart both in terms of having intelligent articles and in being funny and approachable. Won't insult anyone's intelligence.

Cicada might also be worth checking out...reasonably high quality literature aimed at the tweeny age groups; some stuff from professional writers, some from kids themselves.
posted by fuzzbean at 10:55 AM on December 12, 2005

Man. It's times like this that I really miss Sassy. That magazine was so excellent, and there's really nothing like it in the entire world. Depressing.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2005

Man. It's times like this that I really miss Sassy. That magazine was so excellent, and there's really nothing like it in the entire world. Depressing.

What's sad is that you'd think there is a market for a New Sassy, but the only magazines trying to fill the niche (that I'm aware of, anyway) are trying to fill it for the original, all-growed-up Sassy readers.

Muse looks freakin' awesome, by the way, and I'm bookmarking it as a possibility for my nieces.
posted by padraigin at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2005

Another vote for New Moon. I get all my neices a subscription for their eighth birthday and so far they've all loved it. I get frantic calls every year when the subscription renewal notice comes, they want to be sure it's going to keep coming.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:06 AM on December 12, 2005

I loved Cicada! I grew up on Cricket, and I still miss that format - some amazing stories (by both new and well-known authors) and beautiful illustrations. I probably read each issue 20 times over.

Definitely Cicada or Cricket, and Muse sounds great, too. A big range of topics.
posted by kalimac at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2005

I'll second Cricket...I used to love that magazine as a pre-teen (and so did my sister)
posted by johnsmith415 at 11:37 AM on December 12, 2005

My 14yo has been reading MUSE and CICADA since she was 11. She keeps them in her bookshelf, and every once in a while will sit down and re-read them all. My mom got her a sub to Nat'l Geographic Kids when she was 9, and I still can't cancel it, or even transfer it to her little brother, she likes it so much.
posted by jlkr at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2005

Go buy an issue of Bust for yourself and see what you think of it. I think you'll find it to be the best suited for her; not necessarily the best, but the best suited given the other options.
posted by pwb503 at 1:04 PM on December 12, 2005

Adbusters. From the sound off all the other junk out there being targetted at her, she needs it.
posted by krisjohn at 3:06 PM on December 12, 2005

Nothing against adbusters, but it probably isn't appropriate for a preteen...a little too graphic, at times. Maybe when she's 13...
posted by johnsmith415 at 3:33 PM on December 12, 2005

Girls' Life is awesome. It's cheesy, and you wouldn't want to read it yourself, but she'll enjoy it and you'll feel good about giving it to her. Buy and read (or skim) one issue, and you'll certainly agree.

For example, they do make-up tips that are very light and natural, and they heavily emphasize that your fresh-faced youth will make you look best. Styles are definitely hip, but never trashy or too mature (and not so corny girls see through it). They have poster-sized pinups of guys that are popular, but they do younger guys, generally -- Jesse McCartney or whatever, not Ashton Kutcher -- and they don't ask about their favorite sex positions or anything. They do talk about some sex stuff (and always reinforce that it should be with someone special, you shouldn't feel pressured, etc.) but way more than that is concentrated on puberty/menstruation (are my labia normal, help I have butt zits, I heard French kissing gets you pregnant, can guys tell when I'm on my period). "I'm so embarrassed" true-life stories tend to be about getting a pad stuck on your pants rather than about unfortunate queefs. The advice columnists and the editor all really seem to have their heads on straight.

Basically, Girls' Life is real grrl-power stuff pretending to be boy-and-makeup tips. It's perfect for your purposes! As a grrl-power mag, it's also really big on girls in sports, girls in sciences, and girls in the media in general; gender equality is seen as so obvious it's not even a presupposition.

I have no idea how anyone managed to talk anyone into getting this magazine started, because it is not like anything else I've ever seen or could ever imagine would float. I know it was originally started as a Girl Scouting organ, to serve the same purpose Boys' Life does for the BSA, but the GSA and Girls' Life have been disassociated since the magazine's founding.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:48 PM on December 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

A valid point, johnsmith415.
posted by krisjohn at 12:09 AM on December 13, 2005

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