Writing for Children's Magazines
An Ezine

       Interview with Kathleen Andersen,
Associate Editor of Babybug and Ladybug



We are so pleased to have Kathleen Andersen here this month to give us some information and tips about Babybug and Ladybug.

Welcome, Kathleen! Would you please begin by sharing a little about yourself with us and how long you've been with Babybug and Ladybug?

I started editing Babybug and Ladybug in 2011, and since I grew up checking the mailbox for Cricket, their counterpart for older kids, Iíve felt connected to the magazines even longer. Reading and writing have always been important parts of my life, and I love storytelling for young childrenóa perceptive, curious audience!

What do you love most about your editor job? What do you find challenging about it?

The most satisfying and challenging parts of my job tend to overlap. Finding and editing imaginative and absorbing writing for children under the age of six is a lucky challenge. I certainly love working with authors, thinking through the ideas behind their work and pressing on the language one last time to make sure it sings.

For those who might not be familiar with Babybug and Ladybug, tell us a bit about them. How did they get their start? What sets them apart from other children's magazines?

Babybug and Ladybug grew out of Cricket, which launched in 1973 as a magazine for children of all ages. Over time, readers expressed interest in magazines with more focused age ranges, and Ladybug was started as a literary magazine for children under six in 1990. Babybug, a look-and-listen magazine for babies and toddlers, followed in 1994. Cricket Media has continued to grow and now publishes eleven magazines for children of all ages, with interests as wide-ranging as literature, science, history, and world cultures.

Babybug is set in the babyís world, with simple and immediate stories and poems as well as more whimsical selections. It has an exuberant tone. Ladybug is joyful and gentle, and celebrates the childís ability to explore the wider world. Because of the childrenís ages, the magazines are usually read aloud by adults.

When I plan issues with the art team, we try to make them warm, interactive, and fun. I think this focus on the very young childís experience makes the magazines unique. We want to present a wide variety of literary styles and illustration, so there is a lot for children to hear and see. Along with prose and poetry, Ladybug offers activities, songs, and action rhymes, giving energetic preschoolers a chance to get up and move. Babybug includes action rhymes for toddlers, too. We hope that very young children who have thoughtful, beautiful, and fun magazines and books will develop a love of literature and the arts that threads through their lives.

What sorts of things in a submission get you excited?

For Babybug, I love stories and poems that are simple, yet carefully crafted for read-aloud time. Right now, I especially need bouncy, playful action rhymes for Babybug. Iím also looking for poems and stories about shapes, colors, and patterns; city sights and sounds; and that perennial favoriteóanimal noises!

For Ladybug, Iím always delighted to see a story thatís simple enough for the very young, but has the characteristics of good writing for people of any age: humor and heart, a lively style, strong characters, and a satisfying conclusion. I especially like anything that might encourage young children to explore their own creativity and express themselves. Right now, Iím also seeking action rhymes, rebus stories, original songs (lyrics and melody line), and short narrative nonfiction for Ladybug.

Most Babybug and Ladybug readers live in the US, and I like to share work that reflects our countryís diversity with them, as well as sensitive depictions of other cultures.

What things turn you off to a submission? Any pet peeves?

Children are complex and intelligent, and I donít care for work that talks down to them, or idealizes them. While clear language is important in writing for young children, it should also be expressive and carry the narratorís perspective.

Any tips for writers who might want to break into Babybug and Ladybug? Suggestions that will increase their chances of acceptance?

Small children like to hear stories and poems again and again. Before submitting, read your manuscript out loud a few times to make sure you enjoy hearing it more than once.

Please sign up for the mailing list on our Submittable page to receive the calls for submission we broadcast every few months. And remember, while these calls will tell you about current needs, weíre always looking for good writing on any topic with kid appeal. Surprise us!

Youíve heard this before, but it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the magazines before submitting. Sample issues of Babybug and Ladybug can be found on our website, and we sell individual back issues online. Many public libraries carry our magazines. If Babybug and Ladybug donít fit your voice, you might like another of Cricket Mediaís magazines. We are always looking for new contributors!

If at first you donít succeed. . . . Manuscripts are rejected for many reasons. I sometimes have to turn down strong work because I just accepted or published something similar. Authors are always welcome to try us again.

Any other information about Babybug and Ladybug youíd like to share with us?

Babybug and Ladybug authors keep their copyrights, and can publish their work elsewhere after it appears with us. (We do retain rights to reprint the work and license it to third parties.) We always welcome new perspectives and enjoy getting to know new authors. If youíve been thinking about submitting, please try us!

Thank you so much, Kathleen, for taking the time to share all this helpful information with us and for being a part of creating such wonderful magazines for kids.

For you writers who are now inspired to submit something to Babybug or Ladybug, the guidelines are here and here. This is a paying market.

Writing for Children's Magazines, November 2017


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