Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cousins to Books on Tape, 'Audiomagazines' Engage Children Cassettes for Kids Aim to Entertain and Educate

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cousins to Books on Tape, 'Audiomagazines' Engage Children Cassettes for Kids Aim to Entertain and Educate

Article excerpt

EVERYONE is in favor of encouraging young people to read, and children's magazines have long been a way to do just that. Now, however, "audiomagazines" are being produced for children on cassette tape.

Is this another threat to the ailing reading habit? Not at all, argues Samir Husni, head of the magazine program at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

"Anything that gets children's attention and forces them to get more information will lead them toward reading," Mr. Husni says. "Audiomagazines are really taken from the idea of books on tape. They call it a magazine because it has a variety of content."

"This is certainly not discouraging reading," agrees Diana Huss Green, editor-in-chief of Parents' Choice, a review of children's media based in Waban, Mass. "The generation that was raised on radio certainly responded to reading."

Audiomagazines are wonderful for entertaining young people during long car trips or plane trips, Ms. Green says.

A magazine on tape is an altogether different experience from a print magazine, Green says. But that can be positive: "In these days, hearing is worth a thousand words," she says. "If you train your ears to listen, you can get an entirely different message, and it's very important that children learn to listen."

The two audiomagazines now being produced for children have split the market between preschoolers and the preteen set.

Shoofly, for ages 3 to 7, delivers audiocassettes to subscribers on a quarterly basis ($29.95 yearly). Billed as a literary magazine on tape, Shoofly offers poetry, stories, songs, and rhymes.

The tapes range from 45 to 60 minutes and introduce such characters as "I Want" and "Buy Me," two sisters whose frequent whining for toys and other possessions has caused everyone to forget their real names.

Boomerang is a monthly subscription audiomagazine ($43.95 yearly) aimed at 6-to-12-year-olds. A group of young reporters records most of the features on each 70-minute cassette. Subtitled "A Children's Audiomagazine About Big Ideas," Boomerang includes regular segments on money, historical figures, and current events. …

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