Children and Teen Magazines Of 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 7 Part 1.

May 24, 2021

Children and Teen Magazines … is the 7th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter seven, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five and six in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Life was very different for children and teens in 1953 than it is for today’s youth. Of course, there was no Internet, no cell phones, no digital devices at all, and television was in its infancy. The effects of World War II could still be felt throughout the nation in some ways. For instance, many goods were still being rationed in the early 1950s. Sugar was rationed until 1953 and meat only came off ration a year later. So the life of a child or teen in 1953 could be viewed as rather difficult by the youth of today; if not difficult, definitely different. But for kids in 1953, it was their golden age. Rock and roll was just around the corner; crusin’ with your best girl/guy, headed for the drive-in in your parents Cadillac was on its way; and most little ones had their favorite toy, and magazines were everywhere. 

With nothing else really to entertain the youth of that era, magazines were certainly a part of their lives. Children had magazines like Highlights for ChildrenJack and Jill,  Child Life and Wee Wisdom, among others, and teens had SeventeenThe Girl Friend and the Boy Friend and Movie Teen, with many more to select from. Magazines were an integral part of young people’s lives, with education and fun activities a major part of each title’s contents. It was a time of fun, yet practicality; education, but also whimsy and interesting stories. 

In March 1953, children and teens had a rich array of magazines to choose from. Let’s take a look, shall we.


From 1917 until 1979 Girl Scouts published a monthly magazine, originally called The Rally (1917–1920) and then The American Girl, with “The” later dropped  (not to be confused with the American Girl Dolls magazine which began publishing in 1992). During one point of its long history, this magazine had the largest circulation of any magazine aimed at teen-aged girls. 

The March 1953 issue of the magazine had a very impeccably dressed young teen, complete with hat and gloves, on its cover, displaying what every American teen girl wanted to look like and wear for Easter 1953. The tagline was “For All Girls” and the content ranged from fiction, nonfiction to fashion and good looks. It was a mixture of recipes, patterns and sharp-dressed young ladies promoting and selling many designer’s clothes. 


Boys’ Life is the monthly magazine of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with its target readers boys between the ages of 6 and 18. The magazine was founded and first-published in 1911 and at that time there were three major competing Scouting organizations: the American Boy Scouts, New England Boy Scouts, and Boy Scouts of America (BSA). 

The content could be geared toward older boys, but not always (hence the tagline: For All Boys) and included special features, adventure stories, Bank Street Classics, entertainment, environmental issues, history, sports, and Codemaster. Pedro was a fictional burro that was created as a mascot for the magazine.

The March 1953 issue’s cover was one of New Englanders, Ohioans and other maple sugar producers, doing what they do best: making maple sugar. The contents of this issue were many special features on scouting, gifts and gimmicks, and discus throwing, so it was a varied and diversely topical magazine. There were articles and photo features, plus many fun stories. And the magazine is still around today for boys of all ages to enjoy. 


Child Life is a children’s magazine begun in 1922. A little something for everyone in this magazine…stories, projects , crafts, puzzles, history , advertisements, the magazine was published monthly (except in July and August) and is notable due to its very vivid stories and poetry. 

The March 1953 cover featured good-old Johnny Appleseed himself  and his colorful story. It’s fun and whimsical, two things children would notice right away. Poetry such as “The Wind is a Witch,” and stories like “Aunt Dorothy’s Mailbox” and “Guessing Games” surely provided endless reading fun and excitement. 


Then president, Harry L. Wells writes in the March 1953 issue of the magazine: Children…our greatest asset, our greatest opportunity. Since the conception of Children’s Activities some 20 years before 1953, the Child Training Association, publishers of the magazine, believed that children were our greatest asset, our country’s greatest opportunity. And who could argue with that, even today. 

The magazine featured vivid illustrations, stories, and activities parents could enjoy together with their children. The March 1953 issue had cover work by an eminent photographer, Rie Gaddis, who held a degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa. According to the “About the Cover” segment, the image was a completely new look for the magazine, featuring a brother and sister who were on their way to a vacant lot with their homemade kite ready for flight. 

The magazine was filled with all kinds of activities and stories and poetry that would keep children entertained for hours. It was an educational title, but created in a way that no child would ever suspect that not only were they being mesmerized by tales and fun activities, they were also learning something at the same time. 


From Parents’ MagazineChildren’s Digest was a children’s magazine published in the United States from October 1950 to May/June 2009, after which it was merged with Jack and Jill from the same publisher. Parents Magazine Press began publishing the magazine in digest format in its early years (hence the name) until 1980 when it was sold to The Saturday Evening Post Society. 

The original idea was that it would be the Reader’s Digest for children, so it republished stories, comics and other features from magazines across the globe. The 1953 issue had an illustration of Pinocchio and his creator on the cover to accompany the story inside the magazine’s pages. There was also a story about Abraham Lincoln, a how-to on devising one’s own secret code, and a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. The magazine was filled with amazing stories, colorful comics and everything a child might dream about in the throes of kid-dom. 

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Children and Teen magazines of March 1953 up next….

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