Butternut is a print and digital magazine that encourages reading literacy and food literacy for young readers ages 3-6.
In short, butternut is a cross between a magazine and a book—a bookazine. The best parts of each are combined to create something new and (we think) sorta delightful. With a story and single topic, butternut is like a book. Because it comes in the mail and has seasonal topics, it is like a magazine. We're the cronut of the publishing world, if you will.
A butternut subscription includes 6 issues per year. Parents told us that the optimal number of issues is not monthly. Parents explained that with the demands of busy family life, issues could stack up quickly without their full value being excavated. So, we went to work designing something that could be relevant and useful over several weeks.
What's inside? 32 digest-sized pages that are perfect for small hands, the issues are substantive enough to provide hours of learning and fun. Butternut is proudly ad-free, so every bit of content in the magazine supports and reinforces early learning uninfluenced by advertising messages. Filled with color photographs, Butternut helps young children understand conceptual ideas about food—what it is, where it comes from, how to eat it—using photo essays and vignettes. Each issue focuses on a central idea, such as a specific food or method for growing or cooking a food.
Now with 100% more smartletude. Ok, so we made up that word, but we mean that the content is very deliberately created with best practices for educating a preschool audience. Butternut is influenced by the formats of books made especially for emerging readers. Unlike other magazines for kids, it includes a visual glossary, symbols and icons to aid preliterate and emerging readers in understanding concepts. Cognitively appropriate comprehension strategies (for example, self-questioning and monitoring) are built into the text. Deliberate use of these types of strategies reveals gains in comprehension and abstract and critical thinking. Puzzles prompt readers to activate prior knowledge, make inferences and visualize.
Bonus for grownups, especially teachers. Find activities and teaching suggestions that create a related unit that can fit right into an existing curricula (yep, your unit plan is ready for ya!). Also, find additional resources online to enhance your experience of the magazine.
We’re different. And not for everyone. People have strong opinions about food and media and kids. Butternut does not have an overt public health agenda. The language is educational without being prescriptive. We feel that children can learn about a food without being compelled to eat it. Our philosophy is based on research that we find compelling about best feeding practices that promote both eating competence and peace at meal and snack times.
Low-tech, high-value educational tools. Butternut can best be described as thoughtful, smart and simple. We believe that children’s media does not need to be extreme in design or content to captivate readers’ interest. Our children’s media heroes are Fred Rogers, Linda Ellerbee and Raffi—all who show deep respect for children as intelligent individuals and who use substance and thoughtfulness to create compelling content rather than flashy gimmicks.
Is your child for sale? We also believe in providing an ad-free experience; this does increase our costs, as advertising operates as a subsidy to retail cost. We believe like-minded people will pay more to guard children against exploitive influences of advertising.
Why bother with a magazine for kids about food? Aren’t kids picky?
We see a need for butternut. While there are magazines on the market for younger readers, most cultivate curiosity in topics that are interesting and important like dinosaurs and baby animals, but are not directly relevant to a child’s daily life. As food education in the home and school has diminished due to time constraints and other competing demands, and as the rate of childhood obesity has increased over the past decades, a tool that educates and entertains children and empowers them with the ability to make choices.
Consider a telling moment in Chef Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk where he showed a clip from his Jamie’s Revolution television program. He asked a group of young students to identify tomatoes, cauliflower and beets. They couldn’t. Kids are less inclined to try foods that are foreign to them. A greater fund of knowledge to pull from will make them more fearless eaters and cooks. Research supports that knowledge is power, indeed.
Subscribe now. Put something mentally nutritious in your mailbox.