A case for subscriptions

*This post was originally published on Go Team Duncan in 2011.

Ever been burned by one of those high school or college kids that come around selling magazine subscriptions, supposedly to earn money for really important things like young entrepreneur business camps or to save Guatemalan Whooping Slugs?

I have—twice, no less. Yet, despite my two time loss of $50 bucks or so, I still have a soft spot for kids that sell these for their schools. Normally, I try to keep it within the family, that way I can hunt down the little con artists—I MEAN, let the nieces and nephews know if I don’t get the magazines. (Truth be told, I really never cared if I got them or not, I would help them out either way…)

Regardless, they have also gotten used to the fact that my wife and I are the ‘go-to’ family to place good orders. After all, they don’t understand that long-obsolete Walkman wasn’t really worth the $475,000 in magazines they had to peddle to earn the points for it. But, they earned something so to me it’s worth it.

About two years ago, we ordered from a niece. I’m sure the grand prize was a Lamborghini or something, but since we homeschooled at the time and our daughter had (still has, actually) a thing for animals, we decided to make good use of the money and subscribe to some things a little more educational than Teen Cosmo.

One of them started actually rolling in rather quickly—National Geographic Kids. We figured she would like the pictures and quick facts if nothing else. (We looked for Highlights and Ranger Rick also, but they didn’t have those in the catalog.)

To my delight, my daughter was ecstatic when she got her latest issue in the mail. She could be running 75 miles per hour through the house with her hair on fire; but when we told her it came in, she hit the brakes, then the couch to read it—cover to cover.

Why subscriptions, exactly?

I advocate magazine (and book) subscriptions for a few reasons:

  1. They keep kids reading – It’s too easy to let him or her sit in front of the computer or tube, so I believe in trying to push for a balanced amount of time reading print. I couldn’t care less if it’s a cereal box or a chapter book; kids should use their reading skills. 9/10 times, they really are learning something.
  2. They are educational – Kids learn tons of new facts about the world around them. Personally, because I am in the military, I don’t have the luxury of raising my daughter in the country. She has missed out on several experiences that I had growing up on a farm, so when she reads about animals, science, weather, etc… she gets an extra base of knowledge on top of what she has to learn for school.
  3. They spark conversation – It’s no surprise that when a child learns something, you do too. They will regurgitate every—little—fact (seriously… every single one…) that they read; especially if they are interested in it. This accomplishes a couple of things: they get curious, therefore hungrier to learn more and they ask questions. We have had several long, educational conversations that started off with “Dad! Did you know…” The nerd/educator in me loves the interaction and ability to teach her things.

I had a subscription to National Geographic all the way into my teens. It was something that my grandparents did for me that I always appreciated. I loved the maps, learning about far-away places, and NATGEO (as it is now called) always had the coolest cover art. Although I never got subscriptions to them, I also thoroughly enjoyed reading Ranger Rick in the school library and immediately hunted down the latest Highlights for Children when I stepped into a doctor’s office. Maybe you had a similar experience?

If all of this doesn’t convince you, remember a few years ago (circa 1994) when we were barely scratching the surface of the internet’s capabilities? Most of us didn’t have access to computers or email. Even if we did, there was limited or no multimedia integration on websites—we had magazines and *GASP* mail! I, for one, really enjoyed getting letters and packages in the mail. I still do. My daughter lives for getting letters and her own magazines. I’m sure yours would too.

Do you subscribe to magazines and books for your kids? What benefit do you see in it?

Dad and kids reading image retrieved from http://kidsbookclub.tescomagazine.com/parents-zone/five-top-tips-to-get-your-child-reading-more.html – Highlights subscription link is an affiliate link.

The Beginning
About Brandon P. Duncan

Brandon is a father, husband, and US Soldier. He can sometimes be found building (literally) his woodworking skills, drawing crappy cartoons, or writing on one of his numerous book projects.

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