ASK is a nonfiction magazine for children 7–10 years old who are curious about science and the world they live in. Each edition of ASK is built around a central theme on some question or concept in the natural, physical, or social sciences, technology, mathematics, history, or the arts. ASK introduces kids to the joys of thinking, writing, and observing scientifically, and presumes them to be active participants in the ongoing search for better knowledge about the world.
ASK articles should read as engaging nonfiction, not like school textbook or encyclopedia material. Intended to be accessible and appealing to newly independent readers (grades 2–5), the ideal ASK article should also be interesting to any general adult reader. ASK looks for articles that are concrete, specific, and relevant to this age group. They should tell a good story, with an emphasis on ideas rather than just facts. ASK encourages the use of humor as a teaching strategy, and believes that no topic is beyond the grasp of an intelligent young person if explained well in plain terms.
ASK encourages writers to stretch the boundaries of topic themes and come up with interesting perspectives and unexpected connections. For example, for an edition on size, good articles topics might include “Why do we stop growing?” or “How do clothing makers decide how many of each size pants to make?” But we would not be interested in a worlds-records style list of biggest and smallest insects, animals, etc., with no discussion of why they are that size.
All articles in ASK are commissioned; ASK welcomes queries for articles for upcoming themes (see table below). Queries should give an overview of the proposed article, including scope and treatment, resources, and a draft opening paragraph. Writers new to ASK should also provide a resume and two writing samples, including at least 200 words of unedited copy on any nonfiction topic.
Authors are expected to ensure that all content is scientifically correct in both conception and detail, and drafts should include a full list of references and sources consulted. Authors wishing to write for ASK should consult any past copy to get a sense of the tone, style, and range of articles. (Sample copies are available for viewing at the Cricket Media Store, where you can also purchase a current issue.) Issues are also available at many local libraries.
- Feature Articles (1200–1600 words, with sidebars)
- Photo Essays (400–600 words)
- Humor Pieces (200–400 words)
- Short Profiles of People, Inventions, Events, or the Arts (200–400 words)
- Theme-appropriate experiments
Commissioned articles should be submitted on the Submittable page you're currently on, or emailed to email@example.com. We do not accept hard-copy submissions or queries. Submittable accepts international submissions.
- Articles previously unpublished: Rights vary, with option for authors to retain copyright.
- Articles previously published: ASK purchases second publication rights.
Queries and Questions
Queries and questions should be submitted through our Submittable page. Pitches can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Authors are also encouraged to check the ASK author’s page for current edition status, needs, and updates from the editor.
See our submission guidelines for artists
2018 Issue Themes
Everyone loves noodles—what’s their story?
Possible topics: farm-to-table; history of noodles; noodles around the
world; what goes on in a noodle factory; long noodles for Lunar New Year;
science of gluten; making noodles out of other stuff (wheat, soy, squid ink);
etiquette of noodle eating
Queries by: Apr 30 2017
February: Rivers Run
Where do rivers start, and
where are they going?
Possible topics: What is a river system; dam building (and un-building); volunteer
group working to clean up a river; profile of an important river; surfing tidal
bores; why are cities built near rivers; reversing the Chicago River
Queries by: June 1 2017
March: Getting the News
Every day, there’s new news. But who makes it? And what makes it
Possible topics: Profile of modern reporter; a day at a newspaper; rules for reporters;
Nellie Bly; what happens when everyone shares news on their phones; How did
people long ago hear about news?; historical events that would have been
different if someone had gotten the news; how to tell the difference between
news and opinion; how to spot fake news; start your own newspaper
Queries by: Jul 1 2017
Why are plants and animals full of poison?
Possible topics: Evolutionary arms race; profile of poisonous plant or venomous
animal; venom in medicine; fungi; snakes and antivenom; ordinary plants that
used to be or are poisonous (apples, almonds); dose makes the poison
Queries by: Aug 1 2017
May/June: Making Metal
How did we figure out how to get metal out of rock? And how did
it get in there?
Possible topics: History of metalworking; what is a metal; how to get metal
out of rock; swordmaking; the right metal for the job; different metals used
for coins; life of a can, recycling metals; visit to a modern metal mine or
smelter; cosmic origin of metals (stars, supernovae)
Queries by: Sep 1 2017
July/August: Fantastic Feathers
Feathers—hair for birds, and so much more.
Possible topics: How many kinds of feathers does a bird have, and what is
each for; evolution of feathers; dinosaur feathers; how feathers get their
color; feather art and costume; birds of paradise; making fake down; how to
waterproof feathers; fractal patterns
Queries by: Oct 1 2017
Can we build ourselves better bodies?
Possible topics: New developments in robotic prosthetics; growing new organs;
robot suits; artificial hearts; cochlear implants; augmented eyes; are running
blades an unfair advantage in sports; quest for artificial pancreas
Queries by: Dec 15 2017
Possible topics: Slime molds; hagfish and other slimers of the deep; saliva
and spit; biofilms; psychology of disgust, why we don’t like slime; the right
grease (importance of slipperiness in engineering); extra slippery coatings for
bottles and ships so nothing sticks to them
Queries by: Feb 1 2018
Small is beautiful.
Possible topics: Bonsais; fancy dollhouses; votary models in tombs;
making dioramas for museums; how scale models are used in engineering and
architecture; wind-tunnel testing; theatre maquettes; orreries; carving
toothpicks and other extremely small art; how sculptors use small models to
make huge statues
Queries by: Mar 15 2018