Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Highlights 67th Anniversary Issue!

Today is Throwback Thursday, and I am pleased to bring to you, a super-throwback, the 67th Anniversary issue of the beloved children's magazine, Highlights!

If you grew up in the United States, it was hard to escape Highlights magazine. From the dentist's office to free sample issues that came in the mail (free stickers, anyone?), Highlights was simply part of childhood.

Now, as a writer for children, it's fun to look at how far Highlights has come through a (lovingly) critical lens.

The issue in question (June, 1946) can be accessed here. (I'm not sure when the folks at Highlights plan to take this down, as this link was posted on their Twitter account a few days ago.)

On to the fun part!

My very first impression of this issue was how simple it was in design. Yellow cover, black and white inside. Lots of text. Then I became aware of two things: children back then (1946) probably had a greater attention span than our iPad-addicted darlings of today. Printing in colored ink was probably costly as well. Still, as a typography junkie, I love love love the cover, and how the "f" of the word "fun" elegantly curves from top to bottom.

The "Editor's Note" by the first Highlights editor, Garry Cleveland Meyers almost made me cry. It was addressed to the readers, the children of America. It's pretty evident he believed in the children of America:

To us who are much older than you are, you seem to grow so fast. We know it won't be long before you are men and women. Soon you will take our places. We believe you will be useful men and women. We believe that other persons will look up to you and speak well of you when you are as old as we are now.
And he went on for a few more heartwarming paragraphs about the children of America growing up to be good citizens, but also having useful fun with the magazine. He also reminded the readers not to forget to read their Bible and attend Sunday school, which surprised me at first. But of course, America was a very different place in in 1946.

There were many stories and activities, but most of them only a couple pages in length. My favorites were: the very first "Hidden Pictures"(pg. 25), "Animals No One Has Seen Before" (pg. 37) which features animals from the readers' imaginations, "A Little Log Cabin to Build on the Ground" (pg. 38) a piece on how to build a log cabin, complete with diagram! There were a couple of pieces that had a Mexican character, "Over the Cliff", and a Native American family, "Plant Trappers"--which surprised me, considering the time period in America. (Of course, the "Plant Trappers" story was a thinly-veiled science story and the father of the family was wearing a headful of feathers--but still, I appreciate the attempt at diversity, considering again, the time period.)

I highly recommend checking out this piece of American history. It's amazing to see how much has changed, but also how much has stayed the same.

Happy Birthday, Highlights! We (still) love having fun with a purpose!


  1. Maureen, I was so surprised to see an actual first issue, sitting on the counter at the realty office in Boyd's Mills that used to be the general store! Several of us there for a workshop at the Barn had our photos taken holding it. Very interesting to see that it contained Bible verses, and a portion of the Declaration of Independence.

    1. Wowowowow! Holding the original version must have felt like finding the Holy Grail of children's lit!