Submission Guidelines for ASK magazine for children ages 7-10

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.

Writing for ASK

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. Feature articles are usually 1200-1600 words, with sidebars. ASK also occasionally commissions photo essays (400-600 words), humor pieces (200-400 words), short profiles of people, inventions, events, or the arts (200-400 words), and theme-appropriate experiments.

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.

Queries and questions

Queries and questions should be submitted through our Submittable page. Pitches can also be directed to:

Editor, ASK Magazine
Carus Publishing
70 East Lake Street
Suite 800
Chicago, IL 60601

Or by e-mail to

Authors are also encouraged to check the ASK author’s page at for current edition status, needs, and updates from the editor.

2015 Issue Theme General Direction Possible Topics Queries By

Catching Fire

What is fire? Who discovered it? And how has it changed us?

The “Explain Flame” Challenge, judged by kids; first fire-users; why cook?; faking fire in film; fighting fires (but not too scary)

May 1

Between the Tides

Exploring the soggy world of shorelines and tidepools, between land and water.

Vernal pools; profile of a shore ecosystem; making beaches; wetlands; riverbanks; animals that live wet and dry

June 1

Other Earths

Are there other habitable planets out there?

Exoplanet hunting, Kepler telescope and beyond; what do we mean by “life”? What might life on an alien world look like? And could we ever get there? What about moons like Europa or Enceladus?

July 1

Funny Business

How do you make people laugh? And why do we do it?

Great historical practical jokers/pranksters; world’s oldest jokes (are they still funny?); clown school; April Fool’s Day; Do animals prank each other? Do they laugh? Why do we?

August 1

Animal Buffet

What’s for lunch? Rocks? Rotting flesh? Old tin cans? Mmmm.

Odd animal eating habits, and why they do it; how to eat grass; one animal’s treat is another’s poison; dirt and rock eating; coprophagia; things found in sharks; animals that don’t eat very often

Sept 1 2014


What treasures are lurking in the deep?

Excavating an underwater wreck; ancient shipwrecks (Antikythera, elusive triremes); real castaways; Marie Celeste; how to make ships that don’t sink; shipwreck ecosystems; wood eaters

Oct 1 2014

What are the Chances?

If you know the odds, you’ve got an edge.

Probability of various catastrophes; probability in games; John Kerrich flipping coins; tricks for test-taking; finding gold by averages in leaves

Dec 15 2014


Bloooood—what does it do for us?

What is blood? What does it do, and why do we have it? circulation; transfusions and artificial blood; vampire bats; fake blood for movies; blue blooded crabs; whale’s super blood

Feb 1 2015

Making Stuff

Long ago, people made everything they needed. Why not give it a try?

Pioneer skills; living history town or farm; 3d printers; how to make soap, cloth, other item; Plastic from milk; DIY cell phone; Makerspaces; making stuff from recycled material

Mar 15 2015

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