ASK® Submission Guidelines
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 or question.
ASK introduces kids to the joys of thinking and questioning scientifically, and presumes them to be active members of the international community of knowledge-seekers. The ideal ASK article is an engaging nonfiction story (or cartoon) that is concrete, specific, and appealing to newly independent readers (grades 3–5), but that an adult reader might also find interesting. Above all, it should tell a good story, with an emphasis on ideas and problem-solving rather than just facts. ASK encourages humor, and believes that no topic is beyond the grasp of an intelligent young person if explained well in lively terms.
ASK encourages writers to stretch the boundaries of topic themes and look for interesting perspectives and unexpected connections. We also love science cartoons.
Cricket Media is committed to a diverse literary culture, and we welcome works by writers from underrepresented groups (people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQAI+ folks, and other marginalized peoples).
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. For cartoons, please provide a rough script, sketches for the first few panels, and one finished panel or a link to your finished work. 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 (400–1200 words, with sidebars)
- Photo Essays (400–800 words)
- Humor Pieces (200–400 words)
- Profiles/Interviews of Scientists, Inventors, Engineers, Artists (200–1000 words)
- Theme-appropriate experiments
- Science panel cartoons (2-6 pages)
- Articles previously unpublished: Rights vary, with option for authors to retain copyright.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 Authors’ Page for current edition status, needs, and updates from the editor.
See our submission guidelines for artists.
2023 Issue Theme Chart
JANUARY: Secret Codes
General direction: Can you keep a secret?
Possible stories: History of secret codes, how to do some; unusual languages used as codes in wartime; spy techniques, how to hide messages; computer binary code; captchas; bitcoin
Queries by: April 30, 2022
General direction: What makes volcanoes explode?
Possible stories: What are volcanoes and why do they erupt; legend of Pele; underwater volcanoes, vents, seamounts; volcanic succession, birth of a new volcanic island and how it changes over time; volcanic mini biomes (pockets isolated by lava flow); exploring a lava tube cave; geothermal power stations
General direction: May 15, 2022
MARCH: Face It
General direction: Why do we have faces?
Possible stories: Biology of faces, how they evolved and what purpose they serve; making faces for robots, uncanny valley; pareidoilia; forensic anthropology, reconstructing faces of ancient people for museums; masks; disguises
Queries by: June 15, 2022
General direction: It might not be polite to mention underwear and toilets, but where would we be without them?
Possible stories: History of underwear; history of toilets; how do astronauts go to the bathroom?; chemical uses of urea; inventing environmentally friendly toilets for everyone
Queries by: July 15, 2022
MAY/JUNE: Sky at Play (Clouds/Wind)
General direction: Where do clouds come from? And what do they mean?
Possible stories: How clouds form; types of clouds; Luke Howard and cloud atlas; Bernhard Smilde, artist who makes clouds in rooms; Cloud forests; Space clouds (nebulae); drones that explore hurricanes; tornado clouds; layers of the air; Beaufort Scale
Queries by: August 15, 2022
JULY/AUGUST: Big Teeth Club
General direction: Why do animals eat such weird things?
Possible stories: Why are some animals picky, and some eat anything?; How snakes can eat a whole animal; the truth about sharks; why elephants eat rocks and rabbits eat poo; challenges of feeding animals in zoos
Queries by: September 15, 2022
SEPTEMBER: Buried Treasure
General direction: Is there treasure waiting underground?
Possible stories: Stories about particular amazing finds, how they were found and what they revealed about the people who buried them; how gemstones form in the earth; why are diamonds rare; search for a lost city; How a metal detector works; Mythical treasures that probably never existed
Queries by: November 30, 2022
General direction: Does everyone have a skeleton inside?
Possible stories: How bones grow; know your bones; how do you paleontologists know what they’re looking at; exoskeleton vs. inner skeleton; what bones reveal about ancient people’s lives; creatures without bones
Queries by: January 15, 2023
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER: Fairy Tale Science
General direction: Can modern inventors make magic come true?
Possible stories: Modern inventions that seem magic (talking over long distances, invisibility rings, talk to animals, etc); could dragons exist?; profile of scientist working on “magical” new invention or anything with connection to fairy tales (invisibility cloak, poison in apples, etc.); story of a real invention or discovery inspired by science fiction
Queries by: February 30, 2023