With the start of a brand new year, the Church's children's publication the Friend is adding several new features for its readers. The new features provide creative and fun ways to support Church curriculum and help strengthen children's testimonies of the gospel.
In addition to new content that supports Church curriculum, the Friend also plans new content each year relevant to what children are experiencing in today's world. Jennifer Maddy, senior editor for the Friend, said, "While we hope the new features are fresh and exciting, they don't replace any of the regular content that children are familiar with and look forward to every month."
One of the most popular new features in the Friend is the "I Can Play It!" series. It features a simplified large-note version of a song from the Children's Songbook. Chad Phares, senior editor for the Friend, said, "We have already received a lot of positive feedback from parents and piano teachers who are anxious to use this music to help children learn to play something inspiring and uplifting. We have also heard from some adults who are using this simplified sheet music as they attempt to learn to play the piano themselves."
"'For older kids' is a new four-page section for older children. This age group has been on our mind for a long time," said Sister Maddy. "We know that they have busy and sometimes stressful lives and that they are preparing to transition into Young Men and Young Women. This section will focus on more challenging topics, as well as helping children build testimonies and preparing them to move on from Primary."
"Question Corner" is a new section that developed out of questions children wrote in letters to the Friend. Brother Phares said, "We received a letter from a girl asking us if there was something wrong because she wasn't feeling the Holy Ghost like she thought she should. Rather than just answering these questions ourselves, we decided to let other children share their experiences and insight. Who better to understand a child's questions and concerns than another child? The responses we have received have shown us that the Church is full of thoughtful and spiritual children who are more than capable of strengthening their peers."
In the past, the Friend has published several flannel board scripture art pieces, but this is the first time that the magazine has correlated the publishing of the figures with Primary lessons. In the new scripture figures section, full-color Book of Mormon scripture figures will appear on the inside back cover ready to be cut out and attached to ice cream sticks, posters or bulletin boards.
"The Friend always takes into consideration feedback from our readers," said Sister Maddy. "We often hear how they would like more music, activities and content from children in the magazine. We hope the new music, scripture figures and question corner features are a reflection of what our readers are looking for and will help them learn and live the gospel in fun and interactive ways."
A couple of things to watch for as the year goes on is a series of special sections featuring stories about the life of President Monson beginning in August and several issues focusing on specific topics: April — My Gospel Standards; June — service; October — transitioning into Young Men and Young Women.