I'm always looking for ways to help my children develop a love of reading, but after a hard day at school they tend to back away if offered anything that looks too overtly educational.
However, when I showed them the range of Bayard Magazines, which are designed to support schoolwork, my children practically snatched them out of my hand and couldn't get enough of them.
The magazines' producers say that the range was born out of the desire to excite and engage children and create the perfect environment for learning and discovery. Bayard Magazines pay close attention to the National Literacy Strategy and while their main objective is to encourage children to read for enjoyment, there are also things to make, do and experiment with.
The collection consists of three titles – StoryBox (for 3 to 6-year-olds), AdventureBox (for 6 to 9-year-olds) and DiscoveryBox (for 9 to 12-year-olds).
This range is really a cross between a magazine and a book. At the front of each issue is a longer story, and the mag continues with puzzles, quizzes and fun games to play. So what you get is more like a small softback book with a durable glossy cover - very different from the typical child's comic.
The issues we looked at included content on wildlife, science, sport, geography and the chance to learn a few words of Polish. The colours and content are fairly unisex, and clearly designed to appeal to both boys and girls, meaning that you could easily use them as a learning resource for a number of children
Most of the children's magazines around today are based around TV characters, but these beautifully illustrated publications are a world away from all that. It's educational without being stuffy, in a similar vein to Anorak Magazine.
The range of Bayard Magazines are available on subscription via the website, starting at £9.75 per quarter, with 10 magazines published per year. There's currently a special offer for UK subscribers who get 10% off.
As a magazine it's not cheap, but think of it like a mini book that will build up into a proper library, and you'll see that there's a lot more value to be had. A subscription would make a great birthday gift for any child – even those who aren't keen on schoolwork will fall for this range.