Being well-read means more than just curling up with the latest Jane Austen thriller. It’s about consuming a wide-range of written content and incorporating it into your life. The words can come from a variety of sources, including books, blog posts, and if my first-year college English professor was telling the truth, even print advertising.
One major source of diverse content comes through magazines, a key source of modern writing in America since they rose to popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. It’s becoming a tough market, with journals depending more and more on electronic sales, and the complete abandonment of the print market by Newsweek last October. You can still find news racks, though, and while passing by one recently I came across Exploring History, a special issue of National Geographic‘s regular magazine.
This Winter 2012 edition, the “Innovators Issue,” includes biographies of some of the most famous inventors and explorers of the last several centuries: Ben Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Amelia Earhart, Martin Luther King, Jr., and ending with Alexander Graham Bell, the second president of the National Geographic Society and one of its founders.
The biographies are entry level, but interesting, covering the basics you hope your high school student would be able to include for an A-grade. Beyond this history issue, National Geographic produces regular special editions that cover topics as diverse as scientific discoveries and scenic drives. And unlike the main magazine in its heyday, the special releases appear to be safe for giggling junior high boys.