Resource on Trial: Kids Alive!
Children’s workers put resources through their paces.
Produced by The Salvation Army. A weekly publication 25p per issue when retailed to churches (cover price 50p) or £25 for an annual
subscription (51 issues).
Finding a resource for children that stands the test of time is never easy. Kids Alive! has got the time tested part sorted, as it has existed in one form or another since 1881. Initially a children’s newspaper more suited for adults to read to the young people they worked with, it is now a Christian magazine for kids.
The age range that Kids Alive! works for is pretty wide. I have three children of my own - and from a three year-old who likes all the pictures and cartoons, to a ten year-old who absorbs all of the content, they all love it (and I have to admit to cracking a wry smile at the cartoon strips excellently illustrated by the likes of Andy Robb and the jokes page.) In terms of the humour level of said jokes page - if you’re a fan of Harry Hill, you’ll enjoy the wholesome puns.
There are regular comic strips that cover stories from scripture, which is a helpful additional tool when trying to explain a story in more detail. They are written and illustrated well and don’t suffer from coming across as cheesy. These tend to also have a small section close by that might unpack the information for older children. The ‘newsier’ pieces which tend to lead on the cover story are a healthy break up in the spiritually-led material. It delivers the right message in terms of allowing young people to start a pattern for life of reading both the spiritual and the secular in good measure. Not to mention it can at times mean a free superhero poster or something similar.
If you are a parent with young children or in a position in your church where you are able to do more one-to-one or smaller group work, the style and layout are an easy introduction for teaching how to read through a story in full or work through a crossword, and just have fun together. The competitions run in Kids Alive! are surprisingly good in terms of the actual prizes (and this is coming from someone who’s only ever competition win is a Beano bookmark!), including DVDs of recent releases, science kits and board games.
There is a readers section for the young people to submit their own contributions, such as what might be happening at their church, or to send in their profile with a picture of themselves, their likes / dislikes, favourite football team etc. This is a good way of making the readers more aware of the larger family they are part of.
Lloyd Kinsley is the art director of Premier Childrenswork
Main Weakness The size: I know a few children (and adults!) who wouldn’t complain if it had even more pages of cartoons and activities.
Main Strength Variety: there are a lot of different elements in each issue.
The Verdict 5 stars