A unique, inside look at American childhood through the conversations between Highlights magazine and its young readers and a call to grown-ups to make time to actively listen to the children in their lives.
Every year, tens of thousands of children write to Highlights magazine, sharing their hopes and dreams, worries and concerns, as if they were writing to a trusted friend. From the beginning, the editors at Highlights have answered every child individually. Longtime editor in chief Christine French Cully has curated a collection of this remarkable correspondence (letters, emails, drawings, and poems) in Dear Highlights--revealing an intimate and inspiring 75-year conversation between America’s children and its leading children’s magazine. From the timeless, everyday concerns of friendship, family, and school, to the deeper issues of identity, sexuality, divorce, and grief, here is a unique time capsule of American childhood in the voices--and the very handwriting--of children themselves. The book captures a child's-eye view of some of the most important events of the past 75 years: the COVID-19 pandemic, 9/11, the Challenger Disaster, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cully’s insightful narrative becomes a call to action for adults to lean in and listen to children, to make sure our kids know that they matter and what they think matters, and to assure them that they have the power to become people who change the world.
By turns funny, heartbreaking, moving, and enlightening, Dear Highlights will cause readers to reflect, to listen, and to embrace the children in their lives.
From the foreword by nationally syndicated columnist Amy Dickinson:
“In times of great stress or trouble, Mr. Rogers advised children: ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ That’s exactly what children writing to ‘Dear Highlights’ find when they put pen to paper: helpers whose open-minded trust and kindness surely has made our world a better place.”
About the Author
An outspoken and trusted voice on issues that impact children and their well-being, Christine French Cully is dedicated to helping raise curious, creative, caring, and confident children, and to championing Highlights' belief that children are the most important people on earth. A writer, advocate for children, and longtime editor in chief of Highlights magazine, she is a frequent speaker at writers' and educators' conferences and the host of the Dear Highlights podcast. Cully is sought-after for guidance on how to talk to kids about challenging topics, providing thoughtful advice not only to parents and families but to kids directly. She has personally answered thousands of their letters received at Highlights over the years and continues to do so every week. She compiled dozens of these letters in Dear Highlights, bestowing indispensable insight on kids' hopes, dreams, fears, and aspirations to the grown-ups in their lives. Cully is the mother of two grown children. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Dear Highlights” reminds us of the importance of listening to and learning from children. There has never been a more important time to amplify the voices of children; they have the wisdom, insight, and perspective that all adults can learn from to ensure that we’re raising kids who care.”
―Mark K. Shriver, Chief Strategy Officer, Save the Children
“Dear Highlights” brings us the real, true voices and the profound questions asked by children as they seek to figure out their world. By elevating—and carefully answering—those voices and those questions, Highlights has consistently kept faith with its readers and now offers us a collected correspondence that honors children’s voices, children’s lives, and the power and potential of reading and writing.
―Perri Klass, MD, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University, and author of A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future
“We adults like to romanticize childhood as a simpler, less challenging time. . . . These letters not only remind us that children embody the complexities that all humans contain—but also that they need insightful, caring, and thoughtfully listening adults to sensitively respond and ensure they know they’ve been heard.”
―Dipesh Navsaria, MD, MPH, MSLIS, children’s librarian, and Vice-Chair, Board of Directors of Reach Out and Read
“A touching glimpse into the minds of children. Their heartfelt words and drawings vividly illustrate the joys and challenges of growing up. . . . This book is a must for anyone who genuinely wants to understand children.”
―Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, psychologist, and co-author of Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends
“The patient, sensible Highlights responses communicate an entire worldview of optimism and acceptance. They say over and over again: you belong; you matter; we hear you; we’re here.”
―Catherine Newman, columnist and editor, and author of the Ben & Birdy blog and several books for adults and children, including How to Be a Person
“Highlights and children. It’s a bond that has entertained and comforted generations of kids and provided material for this heart-touching book of letters and replies.”
―Eileen and Jerry Spinelli, award-winning, best-selling authors of many books for children, including Maniac Magee
“Essential reading for parents, caretakers, and educators––in short, anyone who wishes to better understand the fears, wonders, anxieties, and dreams of children.”
―Carmen Agra Deedy, author of the New York Times best seller 14 Cows for America
“A powerful collection of life’s most intimate questions from the voices of children, with equally insightful advice from the experts of Highlights. As a mother, grandmother, and business owner, I laughed, I cried, and I learned while reading the charming and inspiring questions from our most precious gift, our children. This collection of wisdom has challenged me to commit to leaning in and listening to our future generation with a new lens of love.”
―Jane Grote Abell, Chairwoman of the Board, Donatos Pizza
“The letters in Dear Highlights reveal the complex inner workings of children’s minds and remind us that they are people with agency. . . . [who] should be listened to: by their parents, their friends, their teachers, their leaders.”
―Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus on Children—a child advocacy agency
“By amplifying kids’ questions and treating them with seriousness and respect, Dear Highlights is providing a valuable resource . . .”
―Adora Svitak, author of Speak Up!: Speeches by young people to empower and inspire