in which Highlights for Children is discussed at great length

Last night, on the way home from dinner, I asked Anne, "Do you remember Highlights for Children?"

"Of course I do," she said, "I remember how I hated going to the doctor when I was a kid, until I started reading Highlights in the waiting room."

"Turn right at this intersection," I said, "and Trader Joe's will be on the left in a block. She turned right, and I realized that Trader Joe's was actually to the left. "Oh, my bad. It's actually back there."

As we drove under the freeway to a place where we could make a U turn, I said, "Did anyone ever read Highlights in someplace that wasn't the doctor's or dentist's office?"

"The library at my school had a subscription, so we'd read it there," she said. 

We got to the next intersection, which featured a nice big NO U TURNS sign.

"Well, this quick stop at Trader Joe's is turning into quite an adventure," I said as we waited at the red light.

We were quiet for a second, and I said, "I bet seeing Highlights in someone's house would have been like seeing your teacher at the grocery store, you know? Like it was something familiar, but totally out of context so you wouldn't know what to do."

The light turned green and we made a left onto a dark, industrial street.

"You know what I always hated about Highlights?" Anne said, "some idiot kid had always circled the hidden pictures."

"Seriously!" I said, "fuck that kid, man. That kid's a dick."

"And what kind of parent gives their kid a pen to draw all over a magazine that's obviously intended for more than one kid to read?"

"Asshole parents," I said, "it's called Highlights for Children, you jerk, not Highlights for your Children."

"Because doctor's offices don't exactly have pens just lying around," she said. She pulled into a driveway about halfway down the street and turned around. 

"Yeah, some mom had to go into her purse, dig around the used Kleenex and that giant checkbook/wallet thing moms carry, and find the pen." We turned back toward Trader Joe's. I raised my hands over my head as we went through the freeway underpass. "Wheee!" I put my hands back in my lap. "I mean, that's a lot of time for her to think, 'Hey, maybe I shouldn't be giving little Johnny Snotface this pen to ruin the magazine for all the other children.'"

We turned into the tiny Trader Joe's parking lot and parked the car. As we got out and walked in, I said, "Highlights should have done a Goofus and Gallant about that, man."

"You've spent a lot of time thinking about this," Anne said.

"It's what I do," I said. I pulled a cart out of the stall and pushed it into the store. It had a wobbly wheel and pulled to the right.

I silently cursed the shopping cart gods, and caught up to Anne in the produce section.

96 thoughts on “in which Highlights for Children is discussed at great length”

  1. You know, one could get a high off those scratch and sniff sticker things that always came with that book. It’s kind of like the “Where’s Waldo” books….someone always circled when they found him….bad enough I was on pins and needles waiting for the dentist and his bad news….then to find out Waldo had been found.

  2. I loved Highlights when I was a kid. I still do now. When I go to my doctors office, I skip over issues of Time or Newsweek and go straight for the Highlights. The first thing I look for in Highlights is Goofus and Gallant. I always thought they should do a movie based on Goofus and Gallant.
    In fact I think we could do one better and do a two man show at the Pasadena playhouse. Just imaging, Wil Wheaton and Jim Parsons as Goofus and Gallant in Goofus and Gallant: Highlights of a Life!
    I think the tickets would sell like Tomacco juice!

  3. You sound pretty upset about this… LOL
    I atcually try to avoid anything that reminds me of the Doctor’s Office or the Hospital.
    The dentist office not so much.

  4. I’m neither old enough or American enough to feel nostalgia about this, but I do have a question:
    What’s the story with your spelling of ‘mum’? Yesterday it was ‘mum’, now it’s ‘mom’.
    Do you just use them interchangeably, or is there some deeper reason?

  5. We had a subscription.
    We also got Games Magazine. I think there might have even been a Games Magazine for Kids subscription at one point (or maybe that was just Highlights).

  6. I can’t wait until my kids are ready for Highlights! I loved it, along with Cricket.
    Right now my daughter gets the Highlights Puzzle Buzz publication, which is, you guessed it, all puzzles! Hidden pictures and sticker puzzles etc. It is so cool for the pre-reader. She loves it!

  7. We never had Highlights in the house growing up. Loved it at the dentists office. The receptionist was the dentist’s wife and she had a very strict “no writing in the magazines” policy.
    Now, for home reading: Dynamite!

  8. Never really got into Highlights mag. I know, but I was from a *different* generation.
    My thrill back then … MAD magazine and Dynamite!
    Yeah, I’m a 70′s hippie kid. What of it? :)

  9. We used to be able to pick a copy of Dynamite as our free book from RIF! The ones with the Bay City Rollers were especially prized.
    I actually got a subscription to Highlights for my daughter. She seems to like it although I’ve also introduced her to the joy of book series so she’s not reading very many magazines these days.

  10. I had a subscription to Highlights for Children growing up, it was (and still is) one of the best things to have for your kids. Of course, now that I’m in my 30s I don’t read as much as I used to (outside of various websites), I need to change that stat!

  11. My (ex) stepmother got me a Highlights subscription one year. I was 12. I scoffed at such a baby-ish subscription… then I went and did the puzzles anyway. By then, I preferred Games Magazine.

  12. I had a story of mine published in Highlights when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. It was easily one of the highlights (see what I did there?) of my childhood.
    It was titled “Dawn in the Land of the Unicorns.” Unfortunately, years later I now know that it was actually as lame as it sounds…lol

  13. my school library had a subscription. i can’t recall if the one in town did.
    and yes, i hated the little snot who circled the hidden pictures & the one who drew mustaches goofus and gallant. which was probably the same kid.

  14. OH WOW – hadn’t thought of Highlights for several years. Grandma always got us a subscription. There were 3 of us so no one was allowed to write in it. My other Grandma had a stack of Jack and Jill magazines that had been my mothers that we loved to look through too – those had stories in them as I recall.

  15. I don’t remember having Highlights in my doctor’s office, but your post reminded me of my first trip to Toronto Comic Expo. My wife and I met some friends there, who were running one of the comic dealer booths, and when we were all riding down the escalator, my wife and I threw up our hands and went “Weeee”. :)

  16. Ok, I feel like I am the only one who focused on the story-telling of this post. Oh sure, Highlights was important ‘n all that stuff (my mom was a teacher, we got the subscription) but it was the whole action of the story that intrigued me, almost as if the topic of conversation could have been about anything, such as, um, plungers.
    We turned back toward Trader Joe’s. I raised my hands over my head as we went through the freeway underpass. “Wheee!” I put my hands back in my lap.
    Ah, too funny. I thoroughly enjoyed the overt subtlety of this post.

  17. I had a subscription to Highlights as well. Even as a kid (from about age 7 or so) I was already a budding astronomy geek so my favorite articles were on that subject. I distinctly remember one called “Mars: Now’s The Time To See It” and I think one about supernovae? Also I remember being supremely disappointed that “Science Letters” wasn’t in every issue.

  18. Just thinking about Highlights gives me a kind of queasy feeling, like eating a big bowl of sugar-free Jello vanilla pudding and then watching Teletubbies.
    The bland, cheery illustration style and the “Goofus and Gallant” social programming content have convinced me that Highlights is the Watchtower of some sick extraterrestrial cult.
    The fact that the only time I ever saw copies of Highlights was in a doctor’s or dentist’s office just before I was poked, probed, injected or drilled has nothing to do with it.

  19. My wife has had some pretty nifty illustration credits for children’s books and stuff, but the few illustrations she did for Highlights should give her some clout. (They don’t, actually, mind you… but they SHOULD…)

  20. My great aunt bought me subscriptions to Highlights until I was way too old. I think I was 14 or 15 when I finally told her I was too old for it. She seemed sad about that for some reason.

  21. haha! always loved highlights! got that at home for a few years and even attempted one of those “Write your own endings” for one of the stories they had when i was 8. didn’t make it, but i tried! now my daughter has a highlights subscription – she doesn’t quite get how cool it is – YET. She will though… i mean, she’s ONLY 5! she’s got time :D

  22. I need to confess that when my kids were younger I subscribed to Highlights for them. Interestingly they never circled the hidden pictures even though we owned the copies.

  23. I’m in the UK and have no idea what Highlights magazine is.
    However, in other magazine-related news, I got my subscription copy of SFX yesterday and there is a two-page article on Wil – one page interview, one page full colour photo of the fez/moustache portrait from JoCo Cruise Crazy. This would be suitable for framing, if that is your thing. Or glue it to cardboard to make a Wil face mask.

  24. Are you sure? I also subscribe, and while I don’t read it as faithfully as my daughter, I think they still have Goofus and Gallant. Timbertoes is her favorite.

  25. I also had a subscription to Highlights when I was a kid, as well as National Geographic World. It was so exciting to get stuff in the mail, and I still remember some of the stories I read in there. My fiancee and I bonded over a shared memory of one particular story that talked about a ‘corduroy road.’ Weird what sticks with you through the years…
    And the slidy wire bead things are, indeed, just little roller coasters in disguise. :)

  26. I didn’t have a Highlights subscription as a kid, but the library I work at has Highlights and High Five. We also have Cricket, Ladybug and Spider, Zoobooks, National Geographic Kids (used to be World), Ranger Rick and a host of others.
    But really, no love around here for 3-2-1 Contact magazine, or Electric Company magazine? I loved those dearly (and EC was my earliest introduction to comic books).

  27. I loved my highlight subscription while it lasted, but discovered that another magazine very similar in nature was doing more Empire Strikes Back parody material. Any guesses as to which magazine it was?

  28. When we go out, I usually drive, because I’d rather be in my car than his truck (more comfy, better gas mileage, the speakers don’t suck), and while he will and does drive my car, he’s more comfortable riding in it than driving it (he’s tall, my car is better made for those not long of limb).
    Plus I like driving my car. Unless we have to drive on the freeway. Then he has to drive. Because I’m all weird like that.
    But yes, there are times when, as a 21st century woman, I enjoy being driven by hubby as well. And having doors opened. Though I also do plenty of door opening too.
    P.S.(We’re in our early 40s).
    P.P.S. This was all far too much information than you wanted, probably. Sorry. ::g::

  29. Why wouldn’t she be driving? Besides, they’d probably die in an accident when Wil did things like pretending he’s on a rollercoaster. My husband does this often, too, and hence why I’m often the one driving instead. ;)

  30. My daughter is three, and they now make a Highlights Hidden Pictures ONLY mag. which she LOVES. Some have stickers you place on the hidden pictures…

  31. Cricket totally ruled. What a great way to introduce kids to really cool fiction writing. Can’t wait until my kids can read and I can get a subscription to Cricket. That and National Geographic World were my two subscriptions as a kid.

  32. We have a subscription to Highlights High Five, the little kids version, and my son LOVES it. He’ll be getting regular Highlights when he can read well enough, as well as Cricket. No National Geographic Kids though, the ads are simply too obnoxious and the content is dumbed down way below what it was when it was National Geographic World when I was a kid. Dear National Geographic: I would gladly pay more for a subscription to your kids’ magazine in order to get rid of the obnoxious ads for video games, bad movies, and whatever other crap is in there. Also, you’ll have to step up your content just a bit.

  33. My Dad was the doctor. I used to sneak into the waiting room of his office on Saturday mornings in order to read Highlights. The puzzles were all solved and the pages were sometimes soiled by the runny noses, but I read every page.

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