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- Articles previously unpublished: Rights vary, with option for authors to retain copyright.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.
2021 Issue Theme Chart
February 2021: Making Better Games
General direction: Why do we love games, and what makes a good one?
Possible topics: How to make sports more fair; profile of an athlete using VR to train; instant replay or other tech innovations that are changing how games are played and refereed; Olympics then and now; That’s cheating!–inventions to get an edge that prompted changes in the rules (cork bats, big tennis rackets, etc); what makes a good rule; inventing a new sport; innovations to make sports more accessible
Queries by: May 20, 2020
March 2021: Pole to Pole (Arctic/Antarctic)
General direction: What is life like at the top and bottom of the earth?
Possible topics: Similarities and differences between North and South Poles (geology, animals, climate); living in the dark; South Pole Telescope; First to reach the North/South Poles, why was the North first?; how to survive in arctic conditions; pole-to-pole migration of arctic terns or other species; magnetic vs. geographic poles; the quest for the Northwest Passage; how what happens at the poles gives us our weather
Queries by: June 15, 2020
April 2021: Small but Mighty
General direction: Each one is tiny—but together, what can they do?
Possible topics: How to split an atom; diatoms and plankton in the ocean food web; ants, bees; mouse models for human medicine; microbiome; nanoengineering, swarms of tiny robots to do big jobs
Queries by: July 15, 2020
May/June 2021: Building Rome
General direction: What did the ancient Romans know?
Possible topics: uses for cement; water engineering; city life (apartment buildings, take-out food, street life, etc.); day in the life of a soldier-engineer; how to put up a town in a week; building the Colosseum; excavating layers under modern Rome built up over the centuries; Roman ruins under other modern cities; making swords; shopping in Rome (trade networks)
Queries by: August 15, 2020
July/August 2021: Shell, Sweet Shell
General direction: What’s it like inside a shell?
Possible topics: Why is the ocean full of shelled animals? Why do birds lay eggs that are hard to get out of? How (and why) did cephalopods lose their shells? different kinds of shells and who grows them; how to grow a shell; humans using shells; hermit crab house swapping
Queries by: September 30, 2020
September 2021: Plants in Love
General direction: If they’re stuck in the dirt, how do plants get together?
Possible topics: A pollinator for every plant; the first flowers; the oddness of apples; Darwin’s moth; Sneaky plant tricks, how plants get animals to spread their seeds; Boy, girl, or clone? How to tell if a tree is male or female, or both, or neither; genetic engineering for better plants; plants that need humans (how does the corn grow?)
Queries by: November 15, 2020
October 2021: Making Musical Instruments
General direction: What shapes your sound?
Possible topics: Profile of how an instrument maker makes an instrument (any kind); Evolution of the shape of (trumpet, violin?); secrets of a Stradivarius; variations on a theme across the world (blowing into a tube or plucking strings); not for me (why do some people find bagpipes or organ music a delight or torment?); unusual orchestras (vegetables, trash, one-man bands)
Queries by: January 15, 2021
November/December 2021: Collecting Collections
General direction: Why do we love to collect things? And who has the best?
Possible topics: Museum collections: Why do you need 30,000 beetles?; Darwin’s collections; stories of particular odd or interesting collections (e.g., collection of old cars rented out to films that need a vintage car); collector who went to extremes to complete a collection?; things not on display in museums; online museums; how many ways to organize your collection?
Queries by: February 15, 2021