“Highlights for Children” magazine, a popular children’s publication known for its puzzles and fun, kid-friendly activities, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The celebration brings with it a lot of nostalgia for several generations. For some, it’s remembering the excitement of having the magazine delivered to their home. For others, it was a welcome site at the pediatrician’s office.
Three generations are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the magazine that has been enjoyed by grandparents and grandchildren who shared a common childhood experience of reading “Highlights for Children.”
A lot has changed in our world since 1946 when the first edition was published. But one thing remains constant: the vision and values behind “Highlights,” which today is delivered to 2 million mailboxes.
Started by teachers
“Highlights for Children” was the brainchild of husband-and-wife educators, Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and Caroline Clark Myers. The magazine has been full of encouragement and guidance for children since it began.
The original tagline was “Fun with a Purpose,” and the magazine was at first intended for children from ages 2 to 12. Now the publication is geared toward ages 6 to 12 with a tagline, “Children are the world’s most important people.” It focuses on issues, such as conflicts with friends and today’s digital overload.
Of course, the puzzles, games, hidden pictures, brainteasers, and trivia have long been reasons children love this magazine. And that is still a big part of the magazine’s appeal.
Growing Bolder producer, Lynne Mixson, 56, said, “I loved ‘Highlights’ as a kid, and I currently give subscriptions to two of my great nephews. They love it, too!”
The Myerses believed children became their best selves by using their creativity and imagination. After decades as teachers, the couple, who became lecturers and nationally recognized leaders in education and child development, used their philosophy to create experiences to engage, delight and foster joyful learning.
What many don’t know was that the magazine and the family who started it were rocked by a horrific tragedy a little more than a decade into their venture. Garry Cleveland, Jr., son of the the co-founders, was in a plane crash along with his wife, Mary, and the vice president of the company. All three were killed in a mid-air collision with another plane in 1960.
The five surviving children went to live with an uncle in Texas while their grandparents, then in their 70s, returned to guide the magazine. One of the children who went to Texas, Pat Mikelson, eventually became a historian and archivist for “Highlights.”
In a documentary film about the magazine, titled “44 Pages,” Mikelson said, “My grandparents just decided they were going to go forward. ‘Highlights’ survived. As a family, it was very difficult, and it was for many years. But we all made it through.”
Today, the magazine remains in the family. Kent Johnson, the great-grandson of Garry and Caroline Myers is only the third CEO in the company’s history.
In honor of the 75th anniversary, Christine French Cully, the editor-in-chief, released a book titled, “Dear Highlights: What Adults Can Learn from 75 Years of Letters and Conversations with Kids.” In it, Cully shares some of the letters the magazine has received from children about their families and friends, their fears and hopes for the future, and how world events have shaped them.
“What we have learned is that all kids want to be heard,” Cully said. “They want us to be present and assure them that they are loved and safe.”
She continued, “This book is intended to help adults foster deeper understanding with the children in their lives.”
Here are a few fun facts you may not know about “Highlights:”
- Since 1946, the magazine has received more than 2 million submissions from readers, and every letter received from a child gets a personal response.
- Every poem or story ever submitted to “Highlights” is in an archive at Ohio State University. If you sent a letter or drawing that was never published, it’s likely you’ll find it at the Buckeye school in Columbus.
- “Highlights” now has subscription packages starting at newborn in addition to special additions that focus on their most popular puzzles.
If you are looking for holiday or birthday gift ideas for your grandchildren, “Highlights” is running a special anniversary sale.