Week 3: Virtual Library Magazines

Do your elementary students check out magazines? Magazine circulation fluctuates greatly from class to class. A few teachers (mainly in primary grades) ask that their students not check out magazines. Other times, one student will check out a magazine and share with friends, and then that particular title will become a class favorite. 

I don’t subscribe to a large number of magazines, but I think putting in magazines in the hands of my students helped boost our circulation and the tie-in to our Virtual Library unit helped students see even more reasons why they might be interested in reading magazines online and in print form.


Today we’re going to look at magazines in paper form and through Virtual Library, so each table had a stack of magazines on it, and students need to grab a magazine as they find a seat in the LC.

  • How many of you regularly read magazines? Almost none.
  • How are magazines different from books? A few responses, not totally sure.

Demonstration / Exploration – Print Magazines

Share how we read a magazine differently from how we read books. Hand out magazines to every one or two students and let them explore. Share at your tables what you notice about magazines.

  • Share out together and be sure to point out:
    • Cover / cover stories
    • Table of contents
    • You can read out of order and it makes sense
    • Look at pictures / headings to see what articles you might be interested in
    • Other things kids notice or want to mention

Demonstration / Exploration – Digital Magazines

Students then need to go to the magazines section of Virtual Library and compare how the digital versions are similar / different from paper magazines.

Go through the same features as above and compare similar titles in print and online form (Boys Life is good for this). And share how the online magazine includes video / interviews, and extended features of the print form of the magazine.


Provide time for students to share out something they didn’t realize about magazines, and reason why someone might enjoy reading a magazine. Encourage students to check out a magazine in addition to books during checkout today.


This lesson was far more engaging than the databases lesson the week before. It also greatly increased my magazine circulation. I don’t love my gender-specific titles (Boy’s Life and American Girl), while I do love some of the content. I just wish they would rename them to be Outdoor Adventures for Kids and Social Skills and Crafts instead.

I feel like this lesson was a great use of time, and reinforced nonfiction text features addressed within classroom ELA curriculum. I need to do more research and find more high interest magazine titles for the upcoming year’s subscriptions. Any suggestions?


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