Learning with Highlights Magazine for Kids- 3 Best Options for Ages and Stages

I remember the feeling of receiving my first piece of mail as a child.  Something delivered to the house with my name on it.  What a rush it was to know somebody sent something just for me. And on those days, I felt special, and had new pages to explore. You see, my mother got me a subscription to Highlights magazine for kids, and I looked forward to it every month. 

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By that time, last month’s issue was read many times and dog eared.  I didn’t destroy my magazines, but they were sometimes were well worn and well loved.  Just learning to read, I poured over the stories.  Usually only a few pages each, I enjoyed finding familiar words I knew as well as the challenge of discovering new words I hadn’t seen before.

I reveled in finding hidden objects in photos, or double checking to find the difference between two similar scenes.

I enjoy doing those same things today, just from a different perspective watching my son.  See, my mom bought him a subscription too, and now he gets stories, puzzles, and games delivered to the door every month.  He gets to feel special when he gets a “surprise” in the mail. (The good kind, not a surprise bill or jury duty summons like most of us get.)

What Does Highlights magazine have to do with STEM?

Sure, you’re not going to find hard core math or engineering material in the pages of a kids publication like Highlights, but that’s not the intent or age group. Highlights magazines are foundational.

Highlights for me was an introduction to puzzles and problem solving, and these are the features I think back on most fondly.  It was a fun gateway to reading and learning.  I realize that now more than ever watching my son as he reads through his magazines.  I see how proud he is of himself because he found a hidden apple or fork in the picture.  I see him making connections – and *that* is what STEM is all about.

Highlights for Kids Today

The production values have improved quite a bit since I was a kid (we won’t count back how long, but they only printed in a few colors; usually black, white, and green.)

Looking at the magazine through an adult lens, it still has all of the enjoyable elements I remember along with some upgrades.  The drawings and production have been updated and modernized. 

The characters are diverse and give everyone something to identify with. Stories often include families form different cultures or parts of the world. (Some would argue they’ve become too diverse. After being accused of homophobia, Highlights pivoted and has both come under fire and been applauded for including representation for same sex couples in families.)

Different Magazines for Different Ages

When I was growing up, there was only one Highlights magazine.  Now, there are three different options that are age appropriate:

Subscriptions are available directly, or through our links to Amazon (affiliate links – thanks if you click through!) Subscriptions come with a free trial period, so there is no risk if you or your child don’t resonate with the magazine or publications.

Highlights Hello

Highlights Hello

Ages 0-2
Highlights Hello is the latest edition in the lineup. Each issue has a theme, focused on subjects like sounds, food, or Farm Animals to name a few.

Stories are short to suit the attention span of young children. The images and illustrations are bright and colorful to grab attention.

Each issue is about 16 pages, which are tear resistant and made of a washable material to withstand the chewing, drooling, and spilling babies and toddlers are likely to dish out.

With safety in mind, the corners are rounded and the binding is stitched instead of stapled.

Highlights High Five

Ages 2-6
High Five age is appropriate for preschool or kindergarten and is designed to encourage curiosity and development. Both our boys are in this age range, so this is the one we’re reading together now. They love the puzzles and picking out site words in the stories.

Highlights High Five

Each issue of High Five is about 36 pages and features:

  • Hidden Pictures scenes
  • Matching games & puzzles
  • Easy recipes and crafts give kids self-confidence
  • Hands on Crafts and Recipes
  • Rhymes & Stories
  • Introduction to customs and cultures from around the world

High Five also comes in a bilingual English/Spanish version called Highlights High Five Bilingue. Like High Five, the bilingual edition is for preschoolers or kindergartners ages 2-6. Stories are printed in Both English and Spanish so reading and translation is easy for both kids and parents alike.

Highlights for Children

Highlights for Children

Ages 6-12
This is the “classic” highlights magazine that has entertained and taught generations of young readers. Subtitled “Fun with a Purpose,” Highlights is fun to read and kids are developing thinking skills, reading skills, and learning values at the turn each page.

Each issue is 40 pages and includes:

  • Stories
  • Games
  • Puzzles
  • Science Experiments
  • Craft projects
  • Activities

One thing worth noting: Highlights publications are free of advertisements, so you know the pages are filled with content, not ads.

Highlights of Highlights:

Highlights has evolved over the years, making changes to better serve its readership and build a recognizable brand. Here is a timeline highlighting the milestones of Highlights:

  • 1946 Founded in June 1946, the first issue of “Highlights for Children” sees print.
  • 1957  The smiling H logo and branding that we recognize to this day was first introduced
  • 1973 “Check and Double Check” is introduced, showing two similar pictures where kids need to spot the differences
  • 1981 Highlights gets front covers with more colorful illustrations and back covers with “What’s Wrong” puzzles
  • 1996 Highlights website launches
  • 2007 High Five magazine introduced for children ages 2 through 6
  • 2013 Highlights Hello comes out for babies and toddlers, featuring chew and drool proof pages

Isn’t Print Dead? Who Actually Reads Magazines?

To some there is still magic in feeling the heft of a book and turning physical pages.  Print media isn’t dying, it’s thriving, but is certainly sharing the stage with digital media.  Highlights is keeping pace by giving you and your child the option to enjoy online through the Highlights Every Day app. They can spend some of their screen time learning with a brand that has been educating and entertaining children for over 70 years.

Still, there is something to be said about having a piece of mail arrive with your name on it, especially for kids. It gives them a sense of importance, and makes them feel included. Just to make sure our son isn’t left out, I offer to share some of my bills or junk mail, though he wisely declines.

Childhood is precious, and he’ll have bills of his own before we know it. For now, he prefers to just wait for his magazine to arrive he can do some puzzles and we can read together.

Related Post: Check out Highlights and more publications in our post on best magazines for kids!


Howie Miller is as dedicated to fatherhood as he is to life long learning. Musician, Photographer, Educator, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Blogger, and founder of STEMtropolis, where you can share his adventures in STEM and STEAM with his family.

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