A magazine subscription makes a great Christmas gift, one that children can enjoy all year round, but finding inclusive options can be a challenge. Sophie Dauvois, co-founder of OKIDO magazine explains why they’re trying to do something different with their bi-monthly science and art magazine for 3-8 year olds.
Have you seen the state of the current children’s magazine selection out there? One look along the racks of the supermarket shelves or large, multinational news agencies will show the same dismal story of poor quality, gender-specific, plastic-wrapped rubbish.
With young children ourselves, in 2007 my business partner Rachel and I set upon the idea of offering a quality periodical for children of both genders. Something that children and adults alike could be happy to buy and have around their homes. Something that wouldn’t get put directly into the bin.
This was as a direct reaction against the horrible selection that we were being constantly bombarded with each time we went to the high street. It’s the same now… when we look at the sea of magazines at station newsagents or large supermarkets we are faced by a wall of pink junk that is supposed to appeal to little girls. Alongside this is a wall of blue for the boys, with a tiny portion of some yellow in the middle that is home to a couple of craft publications.
Inspiring a love of science and creativity
As a trained scientist and informal learning consultant, I’m keen to communicate scientific reasoning to my own son in a fun and simple manner. Each issue of OKIDO centres around a different theme and contains scientific questions and theories which are answered in the most creative manner… OKIDO believes that children can have fun and learn simultaneously. ”Why does it rain?”, Why does my hair grow?”… all the wonderful questions that fill our children’s heads.
It was a lot of work getting the first couple of issues out but we were lucky enough to receive a grant from the Wellcome Trust. OKIDO is concerned with art and science so Wellcome saw the great potential in offering science as content in a children’s magazine which was both accessible and creative in its approach.
From offering four publications a year in 2007 we are now bi-monthly and continuing to grow in both size and fan base. We no longer receive any grants and are proud to be completely self-funded.
The challenges of staying ad-free
We are a staunchly advert-free publication and will continue to be free from advertising, but this brings with it lots of problems. All those plastic publications that you see in the shops are paying for the privilege of being there. They make their income from advertising so can well afford to pay the big supermarkets and newsagents to sit on their shelves.
It’s a very different story for OKIDO. With no advertising our only income is through magazine sales. We also produce a high quality publication, printed on recycled paper using biodegradable, vegetable inks – none of this comes cheap. We are committed to continuing to create a quality publication, so we are relying on honest increased sales to keep us growing.
We have recently committed to supplying 100 WH Smiths Travel stores – that’s stations and airports to you and me – and have been so excited to see our lovely publication featuring in such prominent places. To stop OKIDO from being engulfed by the larger format plastic publications we have recently added an A4 cardboard game into the centrefold of the magazine. This game can be pulled out to be played or cut out – depending on the activity and ensures that our title can fight it out fairly with all the others. This is a massive step for us, both logistically and financially and we’re all keeping everything crossed here at OKIDO Heights that it proves to be a success.
Inclusive options are out there…
We’re also delighted to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a few other quality, independent publications out there. We’re proud to be spoken about in the same discussion as publications such as: The Phoenix, Aquila, Stew, Eco Kids Planet, The Loop and Anorak. We’re all out there trying to show the retail giants that there IS a new and thriving independent children’s publication market and that they should take notice of us. It’s definitely a growing sector in the UK and we’re really proud to be a part of it.
A magazine for girls and boys
Here at OKIDO we are delighted to be invited by Let Toys Be Toys to join in the debate regarding inclusive and non-stereotyping toys. We are proud that our independent publication is loved by both girls and boys alike. We don’t even try hard to appeal to all children – this just happens organically from within the team. For us it’s the most natural thing in the world to enjoy the same things as the opposite sex and we applaud and encourage all those who think along the same lines.
OKIDO magazine is aimed at children aged 3 – 8. At this age our children should not be making any gender-based decisions and with this in mind OKIDO is produced and printed in South London for all children with creative minds.
OKIDO believes that toys should be toys, the same for girls and boys. So many products out there are gender based and we are guilty in our complicity when we choose to purchase and pass them to our children. Gendered toys are still of great concern to us and many parents and so this subject needs to be discussed more – especially at this time of year.
So many gender issues are socially constructed and most parents react to this social pressure to confirm to what is considered the normal stereotyping for girls and boys. This reaction is learned by children who then take these assumed stereotypes into their older childhood and young adulthood.
It is so important to us at OKIDO that we don’t interfere with the natural path of growth and development of children by influencing them with ideas of what the supposedly normal expectations of their sex should be. For us… normal is treating children alike. No exceptions.
OKIDO believes in promoting equality. Boys and girls are as interested and stimulated by the world around us as each other. They don’t need to be communicated to in different ways.
Offering play activities and reading matter that are not gender-specific is a great way to help children see that they can decide their interests for themselves – we hope that people will continue to choose OKIDO magazine for their children. Let’s give children back their freedom and allow boys and girls to have an equal Christmas this year.
A magazine subscription is a great way of giving a gift that won’t get lost in the rush of Christmas Day. OKIDO Christmas vouchers, bundles, subscriptions and more are available at www.okido.co.uk/shop Order by 4pm on Friday 19 December to receive a copy in time for Christmas Day, later orders will receive their first copy in January.
OKIDO is a bi-monthly science and art magazine aimed at children from 3 to 8 years old. OKIDO has a primary concern in stimulating creativity and inspiring scientific interest. Each issue contains experiments, features, stories, games, recipes, adventures, poems and ideas. Each issue costs £4.00, an annual subscription costs £24.00
“Our children shouldn’t have to choose to be a builder or a fairy!”
Dr, Sophie Dauvois – Editor OKIDO Magazine