COLUMBUS (WCMH) – You might have read them at home, school, or even in the waiting rooms at doctors’ offices… Highlights magazines are a childhood staple for many people.
This month, the Columbus-based children’s magazine celebrates its 75th anniversary.
“Sometimes I say I did everything I could to not work at the family business, but then I failed at that,” said Kent Johnson, CEO of Highlights for Children.
As the great-grandson of the creators of Highlights for Children, Johnson remains dedicated to expanding the family’s core belief that “children are the world’s most important people.”
“We receive a lot of letters from kids, and we read them all and we answer to all of them, and that’s one of the many ways we try to stay in touch with children to keep our product relative and engaging and inspiring for kids,” he said.
Founded by child psychologist Dr. Garry Myers and his wife Caroline, Highlights magazine published its first issue in June 1946.
“They had already committed to a retirement home, so they actually retired to northeast Pennsylvania, but opened a business office here in Columbus to be near a printer and to start a salesforce,” Johnson said.
A team of sales representatives who went door to door, selling just 20,000 copies of the first edition.
“You’re starting a new company right after World War II, you’ve got paper shortages, supply chain, you’ve got to be near your printer, so they opened in Columbus because that’s where they found a printer,” Johnson said.
Since then, the legacy company has grown rapidly. Highlights now produces a family of products including games, websites, school skills practice books, and multiple book clubs.
“There’s really no secret,” Johnson said. “We have an incredibly talented team in our editorial and product-development staff that spend all their waking hours thinking about kids, about the issues that are important to kids.”
As the magazine celebrates its 75th year with a special edition birthday cover, Highlights products and content reach more than 10 million children in more than 40 countries worldwide.
“So, we are trying to use this as a launching point to build continued sustainability and that’s all about making a difference in kids’ lives,” Johnson said.