Highlights for Children: Please Send Me Your Memories and Stories

Highlights For Children Various Authors 1967 1973 3PcI’m posting this entry earlier than usual this week because tomorrow I’ll be flying to Denver to be at the American Booksellers’ Association’s Winter Institute to promote my new novel that’s coming out this May.

This is a post about a little boy, who was shy and sensitive, but also very curious. The boy that I was who had the good fortune of having a mother who loved to read and who went to great lengths to make sure that I developed that love, too.

One of the things I loved to read was Highlights for Children. Remember “The Timbertoes,” “Goofus and Gallant,” “The Bear Family,” “Hidden Pictures?” Remember the stories and puzzles and jokes? How many of you, like me, encountered that magazine for the first time while in the waiting room at your doctor’s or dentist’s office?

I wonder what your memories are of Highlights. I wonder whether your own children do, or did, enjoy that magazine. Will you send me your thoughts, your memories, your stories? I’d love to hear them.

Recently, I paid a visit to the public library in the small town not far from where I grew up in southeastern Illinois. I was surprised to learn that the library no longer has a subscription to Highlights because, in the words of the children’s librarian, “It was under-utilized.”

“Animals are big,” she said, showing me a copy of National Geographic Kids. “The kids love animals. They like the pictures.”

It astounds me to think that the library no longer has Highlights. I remember sitting next to my mother in the waiting room at Doc Stoll’s office in this very town, a copy of Highlights open between us. I see us there now. I try to read one of the stories, and she helps me with the words I don’t know. We do the puzzles, we find the hidden pictures, we read the jokes. Sometimes she reads a story to me. Her voice is soft, and I want to listen to it forever.

“Let’s read another one,” I say to her when we finish one story.

And we do. My kind and patient mother. I can still hear her.

“All right,” she says.

Then she turns the page, and we begin.




  1. Virginia Chase Sutton on January 24, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Like so many others, I encountered Highlights in the doc’s office, the hidden objects in the drawings already circled, the copy battered and pages missing. An early reader at age 5, I was on my own in reading the magazine. My mother would only help if I found a word I couldn’t define. She did take the time to explain the word to me, then returned to the magic of her own book. I loved Highlights, a treat, and wished very hard for a subscription, though one never arrived in our hard times. Still, it was magic every time I saw the magazine, no matter how many other children had been there firs.

    • Lee Martin on January 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Great memories, Virginia! Thanks so much for sharing them. I never had a subscription either.

  2. cinnamonb on January 26, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    Hi Lee –

    I remember Highlights. Can’t put a price on those memories of making reading fun and sharing that time with your Mom. I don’t remember a lot specifically about Highlights, but do remember encountering those ‘toons of Goofus and Gallant. There was also another magazine I received at school called “Read’ which I really enjoyed. I think that was aimed at school kids a bit older than Highlights was aimed at.

    It is a shame that such things are “underutilized.” We seem to be going away from a culture of reading. (case in point, a LOT of the “reading” I do now is online, not books, which I should rectify, I suppose 🙂

    I haven’t seen Highlights recently (no kids, not an elementary teacher, so haven’t had call to look for it. I hate to say it but I have to wonder if now it seems hopelessly old-fashioned. Have they updated it a bit? Unfortunately, the world has changed a lot and what before was fairly on-target for kids now seems way too sugary. It also seems kids are “growing up” even faster these days; I saw one headline recently about kindergarten and all being much more now about more “academic” learning, not just play and such.

    Anyway, even this math person appreciates these and other efforts to foster reading!

    • Lee Martin on January 28, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing those memories. I recall “Read” too. Highlights has a more modern feel. The children’s librarian with whom I spoke seemed to think that Highlights might be too much text for her small patrons, but who knows.

      • cinnamonb on January 30, 2016 at 6:52 pm

        Interesting. Wonder what age group it’s aimed at now? I’m glad Highlights is getting more modern as anything to promote learning has got to be a positive! I guess I was very fortunate as there always seemed to be such things around, and somehow through school I was able to get “Read ” Believe it or not I still have a few issues of “Read” still tucked away here. There was one story in particular, about how the way stamps were placed on envelopes in, I think, Victorian times could relay messages, that I really found fascinating; yes, I still remember that!

        Don’t want to ramble on too much, but that reminds me that early – and even some later lessons – do take root. I can still remember a lot of what literature we discussed in my FR English 102 class – and that has to say something about that prof. And I still remember what one of my grad school profs said in class this one day —– maybe just a small thing, but it was an observation he made that stuck with me ——- well, ever since.

        So you and everyone; keep up the teaching and encouraging… sometimes stuff does stick!

        • Lee Martin on February 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm

          You never know what’s going to stick. That’s why I just keep slinging stuff out there 🙂

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