Real Reviews on The Best Magazines for Boys
Magazines are great for boys and we love magazines. We usually write lists on best books for boys for many different topics, but I didn’t want to leave out magazines because boys can really benefit from reading them.
We like them because they are full of interesting tidbits that lead to more in-depth learning on topics that you may become interested in. They are also nice to pick up when you just have a few minutes to relax. Many children’s magazines have minimal, or no, advertising. They are often very visual and some have spectacular pictures to look at. They are nice to take on trips which is especially nice for issues you don’t care to keep–while traveling just leave them for others to enjoy.
Best of all magazines are a whole lot of fun to get in the mail. I know boys who get really excited when they get something in the mail. Order a few magazines and your boy will enjoy going out to get the mail even more. When the LEGO Club Magazine comes to this household we drop everything and have a look!
I put together a very thorough review of magazines that I think will appeal to boys. I reviewed each title by getting copies of the magazine and actually reading them. Yup, I really read them and these are real reviews. I hope you will find this article helpful in choosing magazines for your family.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. All opinions are my own and I never share things unless I think they are great for boys. Thanks for your support!
Magazines for Boys:
In looking at magazines for boys I would say there are two main types. The first is what I call the variety type; it has all different types of information in it. The second is what I call the topic type; it focuses specifically on one animal or one subject and uses stories, poems, games etc. to share a lot of information. Topic magazines, of which there are many, can be really great—if you like the topic. Both types have their strong points. You might find getting more than one type is the way to go.
You should keep in mind that many magazines come from the same few publishers and may have viewpoints that fit great with what your family believes, or they may state as fact ideas that are in contrast to your own views. This can make for good conversations and interesting debate or it can be bothersome. It can also lead to going on info scavenger hunts to see what others have to say about a specific topic, which is a good thing. Check out a few issues of a magazine before subscribing if you have concerns.
Children’s Magazines Can Be Expensive–Ways to Save:
Magazines can be expensive. Some kids mags come in at $34.00 a year. Try to find a sale online or use discount code before ordering. Amazon sometimes has good prices on magazines but their prices fluctuate. I am not including prices here because they change so often that it would be impossible for me to keep up. There are often different options for subscriptions as well. Some are available in various formats such as a tablet version. For kids magazines I strongly suggest getting at least one in paper form. You can also find magazines at thrift shops and rummage sales, through Freecycle, and at the library.
We have been lucky enough to live by libraries that circulate their magazines and we get a lot that way. You may want to check your library to see if you can check out back issues of the magazines. If not, you might be able to watch for the library book sale and pick up a whole stack when they withdraw them. Not the same as getting them in the mail but you could pull one out every once in a while and leave it in a special spot for your boy to find–fun!
Brain Power Boy’s Top Magazine Picks for Boys:
It was hard to choose the top magazines as every boy is different and might like different things. I based my reviews on high quality, interesting, informative writing and good photography & art. These are magazines that consistently deliver a high quality product with a whole lot of boy appeal.
Babybug. Ah, this one really brings back memories. My son loved Babybug magazine. It is pricey but of high quality. For ages 6 m – 3 years. This magazine has high quality pages which are thicker than a normal magazine but thinner than a board book. The pages almost have a thin laminated feel but they do rip. Each issue starts with the classic Kim and Carrots. Kim is a little girl who has a stuffed bunny named Carrots. They do lovely, basic life things and it is a delight to read. Babybug is great for beginning readers as well. In addition to Kim and Carrots there are poems, songs, rhymes, tiny stories, and a let’s explore section with photographs. Illustrated by a variety of artists the magazine exposes young children to many styles of art. The back cover always has 4 items to search for in the magazine. I love this magazine and really think you and your boys will enjoy it as well. The only advertising is for magazines by the publisher. 9 issues a year. Very high quality—recommended. (also available in Spanish)
Ages 3 – 6:
Ladybug: After Babybug comes Ladybug. A magazine for young children ages 3 – 6. This has the same type of things that are in Babybug. It starts with a Max and Kate story each issue—very cute. Stories are longer here, as are poems. There are songs that include the musical notes, little puzzles such as find the differences or small mazes, rebus style stories, and there is always some type of cut out activity at the back. The back cover features a comic—Molly and Emmett which is about a girl and her cat and is funny and entertaining and not only for girls J Again, high quality content and art. A very nicely done magazine. My son really liked getting this and we read them cover to cover every time they came. The only advertising is for magazines by the publisher. 9 issues a year. (also available in Spanish) Recommended.
Click: Opening Windows for Young Minds. For ages 3 – 6 Begins with Click (a mouse) and the kids (his family) which has been a favorite in our house—a comic book style story which is fun to read and you always learn a little something along the way. The same could be said for this magazine which picks a topic and explores it through stories, poems, non-fiction articles and more. Always includes a cut out activity at the back as well as the Beatrice Black Bear comic. Click covers science, art and nature as well as environmental issues. Overall this is a good magazine with nice intro to new information. We always looked forward to getting the next issue. I reviewed issues with titles, “Your Nose Knows” and “Count On It” to give you an idea of the type of content they cover. The only advertising is for other magazines by the publisher. 9 issues a year. Recommended.
Ages 6 – 9:
LEGO Club Magazine and LEGO Club Jr: Great for boys who are into everything LEGO. Has some comics, contests, building instructions & challenges, interviews, and creations made by other kids. It includes club codes for extra things to do online. This magazine has a lot of LEGO advertising for merchandise and media and has become more commercial in recent years. That said, it is something that my son loves getting in the mail as do many, many boys we know. Since we are big LEGO lovers we don’t mind the ads and like to look at them to see what is new. This is a super magazine for boys. LEGO Club is for ages 7+, LEGO Club Jr. is for ages 6 and under. 6 issues a year. FREE! http://club.lego.com/en-us/join/magazinesubscription Recommended.
Ask: This is an arts and science magazine for ages 6 – 9. We have some issues of this magazine and have enjoyed them. They are filled with misc. things that are really intriguing and fun to read. Issues include cartoons, long and short articles, fun facts, contests and reader letters. Each issue is on a specific topic but the information is varied and interesting. It has great color photographs and neat illustrations, glossy pages and is of high quality. The only advertising is for other publications by same magazine publisher. 9 issues a year. This is a good magazine for boys who are curious and/or interested in art and science. (Also available in Spanish) Recommended.
Ages 9 – Teen:
Cobblestone: Discover American History with this well done publication. For kids ages 9 – 14. One nice thing about this magazine is that it used primary sources—it goes to the actual source to present materials. I think that is very important with a topic such as history and am happy to see them doing so. The issue I looked at was “How We Keep in Touch” and it covered everything from computers, mail, the pony express, newspapers, Morse code, radio, television, cave writing, sun messages and much more. There was also info on blogging, social media and the Internet and how we communicate today. It is really a very thorough and well-done publication. It also includes a cartoon and a few puzzle type activities. There are a lot of things to like about this magazine. Boys who have other interests will enjoy this one as well but the focus is history. The only advertising is for additional magazines by the publisher. Put out 9 times per year. Recommended.
Dig: This is all about archaeology and another publication that takes things one topic at a time. This title has more information than Kids Discover and is more in-depth on the topics. Kids Discover covers things more in little blurbs while this magazine has more articles. This is geared toward kids 9 – 14. There is a hands-on activity in each issue. I like that the activity is directly related to the topic. There is also a comic, artwork & letters from other kids. If your boy is interested in archaeology this is a must have, but other boys will find it very appealing as well. High quality magazine. 9 issues a year. The only advertising is for titles of their other magazines. Recommended.
Make : Technology on Your Time This wonderful magazine could be an education in and of itself. Yup, I love it. One thing that I really like about it is that I *always* learn something every time I read this magazine. New words, new things people are working on, new technology, new, new, new. This is a serious magazine all about making and includes everything from woodworking to homegrown drones. There are some expensive items that you may need to build some of the projects but some can be done on the cheap and this magazine is all about doing. This would be an absolute must for the boy who loved to take apart your clocks and phones at age 3 and has been tinkering ever since. I would say it is for kids 11/12 and up with help, but geared toward teens and adults. They recently changed from a small format magazine to a larger size. Projects and info galore! 6 issues per year and it looks like right now digital copies are included with the paper subscription.
More Magazines For Boys:
You could consider these the runner-ups. They are loosely in order from best reviewed down but what one boy may enjoy another may not. You know your son and he knows what he likes, so have him help you pick the perfect magazine for him. Also good to keep in mind is that some of these publications are very specific to a certain topic such as horses, or cooking. Their more limited appeal may have put them lower on the list.
Kids Discover: Each issue is about one specific topic. This is great if your boy is really into the topic that is selected but not so great if he has no interest in say, cells which was the topic of one of the issues I reviewed. What I like about this magazine is that it is a great for reference on many topics. The issues are on everything from cells to volcanos to ancient Egypt or simple machines. I was impressed with the quality of the information and photography in the issues I reviewed. The writing style is quite factual and some of it reads like a textbook. Info is covered in little blurbs as opposed to articles and that can appeal to some boys. If your boy is really into facts he might like this title. I get this one from the library because it is kind of pricey and my son won’t be interested in some of the topics. For another magazine similar to this see Dig. For ages 6 – 12. It is ad free except for ads for other publications. 12 issues per year.
Zoobooks, Zootles, Zoobies: A lot of boys I know really like Zoobooks. We don’t subscribe but do pick them up from the library on occasion. There are a lot of photographs which will appeal to visual learners. The quality of the photos is pretty good, some are great and some just so-so. There is a tear-out activity sheet in each issue of the word search/maze variety. The only ads were for their publications. My favorite part of this magazine is when they cover a specific animal and they show a drawing of the inside of the animal with muscles and with skeleton. They also show close-ups of bones, feathers etc. and tell how they work. There is a lot of information in each issue but not so much that it is overwhelming. I reviewed issues on Penguins (really neat!)and Animal Champions. I also reviewed Zootles issues on Bears and Backyard Birds. The images are great and there is a nice balance between words and pictures. The writing is bigger making it nice for those who are beginning to read. Zoobooks is for ages 6 – 12, Zootles is for ages 3 – 6 and Zoobies is for ages 0 – 3. Zoobooks has 10 issues per year; Zootles and Zoobies each have 6 issues per year.
Stone Soup: The Magazine by Young Writers & Artists: This magazine has been around since 1973. The magazine is published 6 times a year. By seeing other children’s work in the magazine the publishers hoped to encourage more children to read and write. Boys, 13 and younger, can submit their stories, artwork, poems and book reviews to the publication. This publication is quite wonderful and a great opportunity for boys to share their writing with others. It is a small format publication and is on nice paper. The artwork created by children is in color. Overall very good and recommended for boys who enjoy creative writing and/or drawing.
Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr.: Ranger Rick has been around for a long time. A newer version for younger kids has been released. According the National Wildlife Federation who is the publisher of these magazines, Ranger Rick is for ages 7 – 12, and Ranger Rick Jr. is for ages 4 – 7. If your boy is a nature lover then he will likely enjoy a subscription to Ranger Rick. They have photo contests, short and long articles, great pictures, comics, activities, and puzzle games. There were ads for Ranger Rick apps and the magazine. A great value and very nicely done. I was glad to see that Ranger Rick is still a great magazine. Each has 10 issues per year.
Boys’ Life: Put out by The Boy Scouts of America this magazine has a lot of information that will appeal, according to the publisher, to boys from 7 – 17, though I think 17 is pushing it quite a bit and would say more like 13/14. There are stories, comics, features and more. Many articles focus on being active. though much is geared toward Boy Scouts—Scouts in Action, Scouting Around, Jamboree, Scout Camp, Merit Badges etc. if you have an adventurous boy he might enjoy the magazine even if he is not in scouts. There is a building project in each issue. Boys’ Life does have advertising and is somewhat commercial though not too bad. It contains more content than ads. Note that the issues I reviewed did have weapons in them including guns. 12 issues per year.
Highlights For Children, High Five and Hello: This magazine was around when I was young—ahem . . .quite some time ago J I am not sure it has changed all that much. Highlights is for ages 6 – 12 but I can say that older boys would likely not enjoy this as much as younger boys would. It is a bit youngish. High Five is for kids ages 2 – 6 and Hello is for ages 0 – 2. The pages are filled with activities, stories, articles, puzzles and a few crafts. The Timbertoes cartoon is still in there—remember them? All in all it is an old-fashioned magazine. This is kind of refreshing to see. They call is wholesome and I would agree. The only advertising I saw was for other publications and products put out by Highlights but they do push them. It is just as I remember it. Boys who like puzzles and enjoy reading a variety of different stories will enjoy this mag. Each has 12 issues per year.
Spider: After Babybug and Ladybug comes Spider for ages 6 – 9. Spider starts with Doodlebug (brother) and Dandeline (sister) and has a generally amusing but a bit girly storyline. There are still things that boys will like here. There are stories, poems, a puzzle game or two, a recipe, and a couple of activities at the back. They have a non-fiction article as well. I wish they had a few more of those in here as many boys this age really enjoy non-fiction. Still, it is really well done with a wide variety of art styles. We still have copies of this and look back on them on occasion. 9 issues per year. The only advertising is for other publications.
Iguana: This is a magazine written entirely in Spanish. I was not able to do a full review because I don’t speak or read Spanish J However, I can give you a brief overview. This would be great for those learning the language or for boys who already speak Spanish. It includes articles, poetry, stories, comics and an activity. There are no ads. Since this publication is put out by Cricket I would say that it is likely of high quality but you might want to ask around. 6 issues per year. For ages 7 -12.
National Geographic Kids: We used to get this magazine and one thing that I really didn’t like was how many ads were in it. I got newer issues as it has been a while since I have seen it and not much has changed. There are quite a few ads here in comparison with other children’s magazines. Not quite as many as Blaze (horse mag) but some are full page so a bit more in your face. That aside, it is a fun magazine with a lot of bits and pieces of info in it. There is not a lot of in-depth content here but in a way that is what makes it neat. Each issue is very loosely based on a topic. I reviewed Real Animal Heroes, Life in a Lion Pride and Funny Photos. There was info on each of those topics but there were a lot of other non-related items as well. You will find articles, games, jokes, quizzes and a funny fill-in which is like MadLibs. We always did the fill-in. They also have an art zone where they feature drawings from children. If you don’t mind the ads this is a decent magazine with a good variety of information that boys will find enjoyable. For kids 6+, 10 issues per year.
Jack and Jill: The issue I grabbed which was Jan/Feb 2013 said 75 years of Jack and Jill on the cover. Wow, 75 years! I did not have any experience with this magazine but since it had been around for so long I decided to check it out. It started out with a neat full color hidden object (like Ispy) game and also included stories, articles, other puzzles and things to do, a section of jokes etc. There are photographs as well as cartoon illustrations (just ok). It has a lot of interesting tidbits and looks like it would be fun for boys to read. The paper is a bit cheap. Not what I would consider a high quality magazine (writing, layout and overall content is pretty basic.) I think it would be a fun one to throw in the car while traveling if you can get it cheap or free. Listed for ages 6 – 12 but I would say that it is more like 6 – 9 or so. No ads. 6 issues per year. Turtle (preschool) and Humpty Dumpty (ages 2-6) are also available but I couldn’t get copies yet to review them.
Sports Illustrated for Kids: Great for those kinethetic learners who love sports and don’t really like to sit still to read a whole book. The articles are short. I thought there would be a ton of ads in this magazine but really it wasn’t too bad. I saw a big ad for Hall of Game Awards and then one for football camp, a “review” that was more like an ad for Nintendo Wii U and some games, and a bit of product placement here and there. There are a lot of short articles about all different types of sports. The issue I reviewed had NASCAR, basketball, football, tennis, running, baseball etc. It also had sport cards, quizzes, trivia, and a picture puzzle. Might be great for boys who live and breathe sports but it did occur to me that this is the lead in to Sports Illustrated Magazine and then I thought about the swimsuit issue . . . hmm. 12 issues per year, ages 8 – 15.
Muse: The Magazine of Life, The Universe and Pie Throwing: Ok they had me at the title. They also had the boys in my boys’ book club at the title too. They were so surprised at the pie throwing part! This magazine is a bit odd—on purpose J It has comics, random facts, in-depth articles on a variety of unusual topics (the one I read was on fake meat,) and photographs. They also have contests which give your boy a chance to get his work (writing/photograph) in a national magazine. They advertise other magazines from same publisher. No other advertising or commercial placement was found. Overall a unique magazine that boys might really enjoy. Even though it was quirky and I thought my son would enjoy it he gave it a rating of only 2 out of 5—he didn’t like it much at all. They say ages 9+ and I generally agree that the topics were a bit older. 9 issues a year.
Faces: People, Places, and Cultures: This magazine focuses on a how other cultures live. It covers different countries or regions in each issue. The articles are interesting and vary in size. There are pictures of children from other cultures and they go into depth on how they live. There is a question and answer section, a contest, and puzzles. The main focus is articles. Listed for grades 5 – 9. Includes ads for other publications, but no other advertising. If your boy is social or really enjoys learning about others he will like this interesting magazine. 9 issues per year.
Nature Friend Magazine: I have one old copy of this magazine that we still look at from time to time. I think I got it free somewhere. Their description says that they don’t get involved in creation vs evolution but present things from the perspective of “God’s Word” and “the creatures he has created.” It Includes puzzles, stories, informational articles, art sent in by kids, photographs, activities etc. My issue has nice photos and art and is very family friendly. I was unable to obtain a recent copy and the sample copies they have on their site are older as well (2009.) I would image it is very similar in nature now (sorry J ) to what has been presented in the past. Overall, a decent religious magazine on nature.
Odyssey: Adventures in Science: So . . . obviously about science. It covers physics, biology and environmental science (with a particular lean.) There are contests here and those can be a lot of fun for boys to enter and a good learning experience as well. It tries to be more interactive that some magazines and does a pretty good job of it. They ask questions and you can respond via e-mail or snail mail. I reviewed issues on Spies and Cats & Dogs. Listed for ages 9 – 14. The articles are longer and may not appeal to boys who don’t like to read a lot of information at once but they are interspersed with shorter articles that have more visual appeal—overall a pretty good balance. Again, one topic per magazine so if it is something they love they will be happy, if it is a topic they know little about they might find something new to read about or just leave it lay. 9 issues a year and ads are for their own publication.
Cricket: After Babybug, Ladybug and Spider comes Cricket. Cricket has the tagline: The Realm of Imagination. Geared toward ages 9 – 14. The stories are longer and more complex but there is also quite a big change in content and style. There are more cultural stories and the artwork is older and darker (in color and style) in nature. Maybe it is trying too hard to appeal more to the 14-year-olds. We tried it when my son was around 8/9 and he didn’t care for it. Because of the increased length of some of the stories they are published in several parts so that you have to wait for the next issue or two to finish the story. 9 issues a year. Not the same quality as the magazines by this publisher for younger children. The only advertising is for other publications.
Skipping Stones: This is a “Multicultural and Literary Magazine for Today’s Youth.” Basically it is a magazine about diversity, cooperation and celebration of cultures. The magazine is ad free and is geared toward teens. It features original art and writing from their readers. If your boy is interested in getting published this may be a good option for him. Other than the covers the magazine is black and white. Because of the lack of color and main focus on writing, it may be a bit dry for some boys. It includes articles, poetry, drawings, short book recommendations and encourages youth to be active and be voices for change. Your family’s viewpoint should be considered before subscribing. 5 issues published per year during the school year.
Blaze: A magazine for horse crazy kids ages. You get one back issue plus 4 more issues when you subscribe—a bit of an odd arrangement. You also get Blaze News which is a 4-page activity newsletter, the copy I reviewed had the newsletter in the center, it had true/false, word search, a maze, and more. They don’t give ages but say it is for “youth.” There is advertising in this magazine for things like camps, associations, shops, gatherings, plus product placement from their sponsors. This magazine had more advertising in it than any other kids magazine I reviewed. The magazine covers different breeds, horse care, a story, poems, and artwork by kids. Since it is so niche specific I think it might be worth getting for a boy who is in love with horses. I personally had a hard time getting past all the ads but it has some decent content.
Calliope: Exploring World History. This one kind of threw me off. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on what they were trying to do. Maybe it was the issue I had which was about oil but I couldn’t really get into it. The magazine covers history and information on a specific topic. My son labeled it “boring.” Perhaps it would appeal to other boys—such as those who find world history fascinating. Calliope is full of articles on the topic at hand, covers different areas of the world, has a glossary type section covering the main words used, and features “Ask Calliope” where kids can write in with questions that get answered in this column. Might be useful for families who homeschool and want to add something to their history studies. Ages 9 – 14. 9 issues a year. No ads other than for other publications by same publisher.
Boys Quest: This is a small format magazine for elementary age boys. It is cartoony and we love cartoons and comics but the style didn’t really appeal (at all!) to me or my son. There are puzzles, articles, and a workshop activity. Each issue is on a specific topic. I read one on “freedom” and one on “fun with my sister.” They were o.k. I wanted to like the magazine but I am pretty much stuck at just o.k. I did like the science section which has a small experiment. This magazine is published 6 times a year. Ages 8 – 12.
Appleseeds: It took me a while to figure this magazine out. It has one topic per issue. I ended up going to the website as I couldn’t really figure out how to describe it. They say it is “a unique you-are-there perspective on culture, history, inventions, the lives of children around the world: I guess we will just go with that 🙂 The issue I reviewed was about clothing. Not very interesting to my son so he didn’t really like this. However, perhaps that was only because of the topic. There are good photographs and the articles are short. The magazine is for boys and girls but is not very boyish in general. They have this magazine listed as for ages 6 – 9 and 7 – 10 on their website. Not a title I am too fond of but perhaps you have a boy who enjoys this one—leave a comment below . 9 issues a year. UPDATE: I did end up taking a look at their issue on dogs and that was somewhat better but I am not all that impressed.
Scroll back up to view our top picks on the best magazines for boys. There are some excellent ones there.
Everything in this post was accurate at the time it was written. Things change . . . publications change format, features within the magazine change, prices vary etc. I will do my best to keep this up-to-date. If you see something that needs attention, please let me know by leaving a comment below.
Magazines can be an interesting and widely varied source for boys to learn from. Getting a hard copy in the mail is pretty exciting for most boys. Digital versions are being included free with some subscriptions but with others you have to pay extra—at this time we are not paying extra for digital!
I hope you find a magazine for your boy to try. Did I miss any magazines for boys that your boy really likes? Do leave a comment below with the magazines that your family enjoys, I would love to hear what you are reading.
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