HONESDALE — Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or a magazine, for that matter.
Stately, serious, four gray walls on Church Street in Honesdale actually contain and awful lot of color, the bright reds, yellows, greens and blues that can make a child’s imagination run wild.
“People are often very surprised that we are here. We are an international publishing company. We keep a low profile but we are delighted. This is a wonderful place to put out a magazine like Highlights for Children,” said editor-in-chief Christine French Cully.
Highlights for Children was the brainchild of Carolyn Clark Myers and Dr. Gary Cleveland Myers who started the magazine in Carolyn’s hometown of Honesdale in 1946.
Since then, the century-old house on Church Street has cranked out monthly issues of Highlights for generations of young readers all over the U.S. and the world.
Some of those young readers grew into the adult writers now responsible for putting together the magazine they loved as children.
“I grew up in Rhode Island and I got a subscription to Highlights. I never would have imagined that I would be working here,” said senior editor Joelle Dujardin.
Dujardin says it’s hard to have a bad day at work when your daily tasks entail tales of dragons, magic, and good manners; one of the many steps that go into making each issue months in advance.
“I remember staring at the illustrations intently, and just analyzing everything about it. When this opportunity came I was very excited about it because of that fact, because I remember this brand,” said art director Patrick Greenish.
Greenish is a former reader turned employee at the editorial office for Highlights in Honesdale. He’s working on a layout for the magazine’s September issue.
“Really, it’s like, anything goes with creativity to make it fun for them.”
Of the 75 Highlights employees, most of them are NEPA transplants who didn’t know where the magazine was made when they took the job.
“It’s a really great place to raise a family, and to have this magazine with such good family values to be produced here, it makes total sense, total sense,” Greenish added.
Its values haven’t changed but the process of making the magazine certainly has. Highlights recently added employees in charge of fine-tuning the digital layouts.
“They’re taking the files that the designers and editors have worked so hard to put together, and now they’re kind of finalizing those and getting those files ready for the printer,” said George Brown, manager of asset services.
That’s the final step before the issues go to the printer in Ohio.
Though the work is done mostly from in front of a computer screen, the editors of Highlights say the experience won’t change for the reader, that Goofus and Gallant’s antics are best read on Highlights’ quintessential crayon-friendly paper.
“We don’t think ink on paper is going away anytime soon for kids and there’s something so wonderful about the tactile experience of holding a magazine. Or holding a child on your lap or sitting next to a child and holding a magazine, having the experience of turning the pages,” Cully said.
Many pages have turned in the Highlights story. They now produce books, games, and an iPad app for children of all ages in dozens of countries.
But no matter what the next chapter brings, the magazine’s home will be in Honesdale.