KidSpirit is a new magazine that dares to tackle “The Big Questions.” The approach is novel: if you want to understand what matters to 11-15 year olds, ask someone that age. Let them question. Let them answer. Let them learn and share.
The current issue, Science and Spirit, asks “Is there a limit to what we should know?” Kid editor Rebecca Brudner dares to answer. The question sprung from a 2008 astrophysics experiment meant to simulate conditions in the universe before the Big Bang. Some people opposed this experiment, even worried that the Large Hadron Collider might end life on Earth.
Rebecca notes other examples where morality and scientific advancement have collided. Atomic bombs were dropped on Japanese civilians during WWII. Today there is plenty of controversy around genetic engineering. Rebecca does not dismiss the concerns, but she concludes:
“just because these issues create conflict does not mean that we cannot continue to progress. It is possible to have faith or spirituality and still encourage scientific development. Spirituality and science can both be used in an ethical way.”
Rebecca Brudner (center) is in ninth grade.
What I liked best about KidSpirit was that the big questions don’t have one answer. In one section called “Listen Up” kids polled other kids. On the topic of "Animal Testing" two respondents show the range of opinion:
“I strongly hate any abuse towards animals. But about animal testing, animals don’t have the same reactions to things as humans and they can’t say “NO!” So why not test everything on other humans? If they say no then people will know how animals feel, which is not an option for animals.” –Sami Fisch
“I believe humans are superior to animals. Therefore, even if tests caused pain to animals it would only be right to conduct those tests to relieve pain of humans. Laws of nature and just common sense say that superior beings can do whatever they like. It is not even known if animals feel pain like we do and any kind of statement that suggests they feel pain like humans is inaccurate. Bottom line: if it can help humans, animal testing is not a problem. –Ted Kim
Do these responses make you uncomfortable? Do they make you think? KidSpirit works.
The editors (some above) are actively looking for submissions from children aged 11-15 including writing, art and poetry. They work for cookies. My eleven-year-old daughter contributed the baby squirrel photo (below) to the Science and Spirit issue, and she has a poem about our sabbatical in England in The Change and Loss issue due out in June.
When I was about my daughter’s age, I submitted a poem to a kids’ horse magazine, and it won second prize. Jump ahead two decades, and I started writing a novel which led me to my literary agent. I wouldn’t have believed it possible without that early experience of seeing my work in print.
We found out about KidSpirit from my friend, Marika Josephson (above on right of me, photo by my son.) Yes, the Marika I almost drowned in Maine. She has worked in publishing and is currently doing a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research while working as an editorial assistant for KidSpirit. She’s one of the few adults doing the busy work behind the magazine.
In addition to selecting and editing articles for the magazine, the kids on the editorial board (pictured above) select the magazine's theme and content. Editor-in-chief Elizabeth Dabney Hochman (and mother of one of the editors) founded KidSpirit four years ago. Here’s an interesting clip from Neighborhood Beat that shows how the magazine works:
KidSpirit on Brooklyn Independent Television’s Neighborhood Beat: Brooklyn Heights
(reproduced with permission)
(reproduced with permission)
Encourage your kids/grandkids/students to contribute and/or subscribe. The magazine has no advertisements and relies on subscriptions ($25 per year) and charitable donations. It’s a great cause, educational and fun.
I’ve been blogging quite a bit recently about young adult topics. This year my daughter decided she was too old for bedtime stories, but I still like to stay connected with her through favorite books. It’s been a welcome surprise discovering fabulous novels and magazines designed for kids her age. I wish I’d have more of that growing up, but I’m enjoying it now as an adult. We were all once children too.
Next week (April 15) I’ll be back to more adult topics. I’ll be reviewing Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book during the week of Passover. Brooks won a Pullitzer for her last novel, March. People of the Book is currently #6 on the NYT bestseller paperback list. Read along with me, and we can discuss this fascinating novel that follows a 500-year-old haggadah through times of persecution against the Jews and their artifacts. The protagonist is a rare book restorer. It’s a book lover’s book.
Blog Watch: My April 1st post was no joke but a review and author interview of a young adult novel, The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy. A bunch of you tricked me. Prairie Rose’s Garden is growing most unusual plants. Troutbirder was welcoming spring in Minnesota. Just A Plane Ride Away in England said she was moving back to Texas as opposed to the Netherlands. Ha!
Happy Passover and Easter!
Images reproduced with permission from KidSpirit Magazine.