While its name is an acronym for arts and sciences for kids, ASK’s comfort zone includes just about any topic that might arouse the curiosity of young readers.
Contents of each ad-free issue are largely relevant to the cover story without giving readers the feeling they’re conceptually stuck. The July/August 2018 issue, “Fantastic Feathers”, wasn’t totally for the birds, for instance. Besides stories you might expect, such as “Guide to Feathers” and “Glamor Birds”, others explored the history of feathers as writing tools, and using feathers in fashion. The April 2018 issue, whose “Perfect Poison” cover photo shows a venomous snake about to strike, barely explores snakes at all and instead includes stories about poisonous plants, killer fungi, poisonous snails, and deadly spiders, as well as nature’s poisons turned into life-saving medicines.
Most issues start with science before moving to stories in social science and the arts. One recent exception was the topical cover asking, “What’s News?” The issue answered that question with features about how people got their news before cell phones and television; how a news photographer in the early 1900s changed labor practices with his photos; and how newspapers and news sites provide different kinds of stories.
Departments at the front and back of the magazine detour from the main topics with newsy shorts (from tree lobsters to monkeys brushing their teeth), contests, readers’ letters, and cartoons. ASK is sneaky good at connecting science to the arts and history.
Subscriptions are auto-renewed, though the publisher guarantees they can be cancelled at any time.
Don Oldenburg ©2019 Parents’ Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of “The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion” (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.