High Fives for Highlights High Five

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

My mom bought a Highlights High Five sub­scrip­tion for Abraham a few years ago. He loves it, and I make sure to leave it in the mail­box for his re­trieval each time a new is­sue ar­rives. Reading to Abraham is al­ways great fun, but I am quite con­scious of how dif­fi­cult it is to find books that fea­ture father/​child in­ter­ac­tion. The per­cent­age is ter­ri­bly small rel­a­tive to books with moms in them. Once upon a time I Asked Metafilter for rec­om­men­da­tions of books with heav­ily fea­tured fa­thers, and re­ceived quite a few great ti­tles that I’ve since added to our li­brary.

In the two years Abraham has had his High Five sub­scrip­tion, I no­ticed a sim­i­lar trend and fi­nally de­cided to write a let­ter to the ed­i­tor about it. It went much bet­ter than I ex­pected. Our ex­change is be­low, shared with her per­mis­sion.


My 4 year old son and I look for­ward with great an­tic­i­pa­tion to re­ceiv­ing our monthly sub­scrip­tion to High Five. He im­me­di­ately tears out all of the lit­tle ads just like I did with my Highlights sub­scrip­tion when I was his age. At first his fa­vorite sec­tion was the hid­den pic­tures (again, just like me), but now as he’s start­ing to read a bit, he en­joys Tex and Indi the most.

Your mag­a­zine helps provide a lot of fun, ed­u­ca­tional, qual­ity time with my boy. As a sin­gle par­ent, I try to max­i­mize those at­trib­utes when we play to­gether. Thank you so much for the ex­cel­lent work you and your staff do each month.

There’s only one as­pect of the magazine’s con­tent that both­ers me: the dis­tinct lack of in­volved dads in most is­sues. In the most cur­rent is­sue (October 2012) there are only two pages (12, 16) with a fa­ther present. In con­trast, moth­ers and fe­male fig­ures are in­volved in much of the rest of this is­sue (pp. 2, 4, 7 – 8, 13, 20, 22 – 23, 26, 30) and most oth­ers. I make a dis­tinc­tion be­tween “pres­ence” and “in­volve­ment” here, be­cause when fa­thers ap­pear in your mag­a­zine, they’re of­ten not ac­tively en­gaged with car­ing and learn­ing with the chil­dren. For ex­am­ple, in the cur­rent is­sue, the Papa squir­rel on page 16 is just be­ing watched by the child squir­rel, they aren’t bury­ing nuts to­gether.

This is not an is­sue that af­fects your mag­a­zine alone; I have a heck of a time find­ing children’s books that fea­ture father/​child in­ter­ac­tion as well.

I think if you be­gin to in­clude more in­volved dads in your mag­a­zine you will provide an ex­am­ple to all chil­dren that dads can be in­volved in their kid’s lives. Additionally, you will be teach­ing lit­tle boys that they can and should be in­volved with their own chil­dren one day.

It might be nice to start with Tex and Indi’s dad. I as­sumed their mom was a sin­gle par­ent for quite a few is­sues un­til dad made a brief ap­pear­ance.

I’d be happy to cor­re­spond with you fur­ther in this re­gard and the boy and I are al­ready ea­gerly await­ing the November is­sue.


Adam Harvey

A few days later I re­ceived this re­sponse:

Dear Adam,

Thank you so much for writ­ing. I’m pleased to hear that you and your son are en­joy­ing High Five. And I’m sorry that since you’ve been sub­scrib­ing, you’ve no­ticed a lack of fa­thers in our sto­ries.

I can tell you that in November, Dad helps Tex and Indi make the Thanksgiving stuff­ing, and in the verse a mom and a dad and their son help make a pump­kin pie. Then, in December, in the English/​Spanish story, a lit­tle girl goes out in the snow with her Dad. There’s no in­di­ca­tion that there is a Mom in that story. We also pub­lish sto­ries about Bert and Beth who live with their grand­fa­ther. We do try to make sure that all kids see them­selves re­flected in the pages of our mag­a­zine, and that in­cludes dif­fer­ent types of fam­i­lies.

But I’m also very glad to have heard from you. Your let­ter prompted me to swap out a Mom and re­place her with a Dad in a story that will ap­pear in early spring. It’s al­ways good to be re­minded — so thanks for tak­ing the time to write.



What a great re­sponse! I half-ex­pected some sort of form let­ter, but in­stead I re­ceived thought­ful­ness, un­der­stand­ing, and speci­fic ex­am­ples ad­dress­ing my is­sue. And the ic­ing on the cake is a lit­tle bit more “dad” in the mag­a­zine. It’s nice to know that Highlights still has the best in­ter­ests of chil­dren at heart. This re­sponse even mit­i­gates the nearly un­for­giv­able fact that they never did pub­lish my Ram Bo Jackson draw­ing that I sent in when I was 8.