Being a kid was different back when the church introduced a story magazine just for them.
Sixty years ago, astronauts didn’t exist and neither did personal computers. Barbie dolls hadn’t been invented yet. There may not have been as many toys, but there was one thing that you could find—kids. Children were everywhere. Lots of babies were being born and the classrooms were full. They were part of a “baby boom” that happened after World War II.
When the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church looked around and saw all these children, they decided to make a magazine just for them. The first thing they had to do was come up with a name. The Review and Herald Publishing Association, that planned to print the magazine, thought that maybe kids could help find a name, so they announced a contest. Adventist children got excited about a chance to win $10 and submitted 1,600 suggestions. The strange thing was that 225 of them submitted the same name—Junior Guide!
In October 1953, the first issue of Junior Guide arrived in churches. Jane Thayer, now an associate professor at Andrews University, remembers that day well. “There had been a lot of promotion, and so those of us in the target age group were quite eager to see the real magazine. When the day finally came and the Sabbath school teacher handed them out, I looked through it in awe. A magazine made just for my age group! And, somehow—magically—someone really knew what we liked!”
What did kids like about Guide? They liked the stories and there were lots of them in each issue. Young readers found stories about inventors, about animals, about danger, and about the adventures of missionaries.
“I used many, many mission stories for at least two reasons,” says Lawrence Maxwell, the first editor. “They were so interesting. And I wanted the children to know that the world did not end at the Atlantic seaboard. There are no borders in the Adventist church.”
Anything that was fun for kids showed up in Guide (the name was shortened after several years). There were craft projects for the girls and gadget projects for the boys. One issue even had a photo feature on the strange shapes you can make with your hair if you lather it up with shampoo!
As the years went by, Guide became more colorful. It added more puzzles and games. Now, the magazine that began before anyone had even heard of personal computers, has a Web site that thousands of children visit from their homes around the world.
“Guide is proof that our church really cares about our kids,” says current editor Randy Fishell. “No other denomination has invested in a weekly magazine for its juniors and earliteens.”
Guide has been a gift that the church gave to its children 60 years ago. And every week, kids open it up like a shiny new present, full of stories that point to Jesus.
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