"Grab them while they're young" appears to be a philosophy gaining favor among periodicals these days. One of a slew of new newspapers and magazines written both by and for children is Kids Magazine, which made its debut last March. Based in Mountain View, Calif., it is a full-color glossy monthly that covers a wide range of topics, both educational and entertaining, designed to appeal to 6- to 15-year-olds. Kids Magazine addresses its readership of 100,000 on their own terms by relying on a staff of cub reporters, photographers, and editors who are almost exclusively in the same age group as the readers.

Founder Larry Spiler, age 41, decided the most practical strategy was to offer his magazine for free and rely on advertising for revenues, and on schools and family-oriented retailers like Burger King and Kids-R-Us for distribution. Spiler hopes to recoup his initial $600,000 investment within six months, in part by wooing sponsors for a program that offers prizes to children for reading a certain number of books. But, he admits, the program is a hard sell. "Anyone looking at influencing our readership is willing to listen," he says. "Getting them to write a check is another matter."

-- Allesandra Bianchi