My five-year-old home educated daughter has never been formally taught how to read, but through games, activities and being read to almost every night of her life, she has blossomed as an early reader in the last few months, going from a word-speller-outer to an almost fluent reader with perfect ease.
She always loves magazines for children on supermarket shelves, so I decided to get her a magazine subscription of her very own. As an avid storyteller with a wild and vivid imagination, I was drawn to the title Story Box for its engaging and substantive qualities.
What I mean by that is simple. StoryBox is a magazine that encourages a child to read through the stories presented in it's pages — more than simple cartoon strips, but also full page stories. Story Box magazine is beautifully illustrated, with bold bright colours used throughout. There's also loads of variety in the imagery with everything from pencil drawings to photo-like stills.
A strange thing to note in a magazine, perhaps, is that these aren't throwaway magazines. They don't tear as you turn the pages, they don't give the impression of being thin and flimsy and temporary. In fact quite the opposite: the beautiful glossy cover and the thick storybook-like pages make this feel like something that should be treasured from the moment you open the packaging.
As for content, which really is the important part, there is a little bit for everyone. Divided into 'Storytime', 'Discovery', 'Adventures' and 'Games' the 50-page magazine has content to keep even young readers engaged. We read the first story (about a pirate) together as it is a little bit long for her still, meaning it's ideal for an older child.
'Discover' in issue 195 was about why we need to protect ourselves from the sun, perfectly themed for summer, and about sharks, which also tie in to any trips to the beach this summer. It's great to have an educational element to the fun too, and a topic that's helpful to parents — like why we need suncream — is really useful. I think these are also good stories for cognitive development, since the characters ask questions and children can answer them with a bit of thinking and discussion.
In this magazine the 'Adventures' section contains stories of camping and swimming and a dip in the sea, in cartoon-strip fashion. I think it's wonderful how they've 'told' the stories in different ways, exposing children to different styles and different 'vehicles' of storytelling.
The best part of the Story Box magazine for my daughter was "Polo: Finding Treasure": a story board with images, but no story, leaving the reader to tell the story in their own words. She spent as much time on this one page, offering up versions of her story as she did on the rest of the magazine. She loved this most of all.
The final section of the Story Box magazine is the 'Games' section, with games like organising the images with the speech bubbles, spot the difference, and join the dots. These are a good opportunity for little brains to have fun and rest.
As a whole, Story Box is a beautiful magazine, and it's something you can keep with the regular books to read and re-read again. I love that although it's for children, it's not tatty or cheap looking, which should help them value and respect it like they would a library book.
What a beautiful magazine series! I can't wait for the next one to arrive.
Start your own adventure today with a monthly subscription to Story Box magazine.