Ranger RickAs the newest editor on the Ranger Rick staff, I can take exactly none of the credit for the magazine’s most recent big award: Earlier this month, Ranger Rick was named a gold-medal winner in the 2011 Parent’s Choice Awards.

Parents’ Choice is a highly respected foundation that gives parents information on quality children’s media and toys. Two other NWF magazines, Your Big Backyard and Just for Fun, also received gold awards; our other magazine—my 2-year-old daughter’s favorite, Wild Animal Baby—brought home the silver.

There are many reasons I was excited to be hired as an editor at Ranger Rick a few months ago, including my own 25-year-old memories of lying in bed, devouring the magazine. (Particularly the jokes:  What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot!). But now that I’m a mom to two young kids, the best perk was one I never really considered: I get to bring home a really great kids’ magazine each month and tell my children that I helped make it.

While I bask in the secondhand glory, I can already see the everyday, behind-the-scenes work that makes these magazines so extraordinary. Just a few examples:

Parents' Choice Award Gold Medal
Congratulations to Ranger Rick! The magazine was named a 2011 Gold Award winner by Parents' Choice.
  • Poring over hundreds of gorgeous photos for each story—then going back and looking at dozens more to illustrate some strange-but-interesting animal behavior (perhaps a black bear picking berries with its lips? A leopard dragging a whole antelope into a tree?).
  • Debating the finer points of potty humor, including whether two issues in one year could contain a news item on plants used as toilets by wild animals (answer: no, but let’s save one for next year).
  • Making daily judgment calls on what a 9-year-old kid—not a grownup editor—wants from our magazine: Would our readers rather see a bear catching a fish (exciting!) or cuddling with cubs in a den (adorable!)?
  • Always, always keeping in mind what will be interesting and relevant for our readers. This means that every day, my colleagues and I stretch our brains, reaching back to remember (or imagine) what it felt like to be a kid clutching a fresh copy of Ranger Rick. What would we want to see? What would make us want to pay more attention to the natural world and protect the environment? Okay, and what would crack us up? Well, speaking from past experience: Q: What newspaper do sheep like to read? A: The Wool Street Journal! (Thanks, Lucia B. of South Carolina!)

Congratulations again to Ranger Rick and the other NWF kids’ magazines!

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Published: March 25, 2011