Kids’ magazine takes flight

Ten-year-old Lila launches magazine for children, writes mum Nikki Wilkins

Lila (centre) and other writers at the launch of The Pilot

Lila (centre) and other writers at the launch of The Pilot in the Walthamstow branch of Waterstones

The idea exploded at bedtime, late at night, as all great children’s ideas do.

My ten-year-old daughter Lila, jumping up and down, decided she wanted to start a magazine especially for children in Walthamstow. After an excited, breathless speech on what she wanted to do and what would be in the magazine, I told her how nice that would be and shuffled off in my slippers before collapsing into bed.

I thought that would be the end of it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The idea for a magazine was keeping Lila awake every night. She was buzzing with ideas, repeatedly asking me: “Can I do it mummy?”

She even knew what she wanted to call it: The Pilot. It was her ‘light bulb moment’ which came when she saw the new wall art on the side of International Supermarket by artist Phlegm – a huge furry worm inspired by the first tri-plane which took off from Walthamstow Marshes in 1909.

I began to take it more seriously. As a child of the Seventies, I spent many an evening cutting pictures out of magazines, sticky-taping felt-tip drawings and Biro-scrawled articles on to A4 lined paper, making up magazines which never made it beyond my bedroom. Little did I know back then that I would go on to spend 20 years in the magazine and newspaper business. My rusty expertise would now be put into use as I wanted to do my best to help Lila make The Pilot a reality.

We started by pinning a huge piece of paper to the living room wall and we drew the magazine page thumbnails. Lila started filling them in with no encouragement; fun recipes, travel features, book reviews, film news, funny animals, pet of the month. All the fun stuff, yes, but Lila insisted the magazine should also be challenging. She added philosophy questions, science experiments, and debate ideas. There was no stopping her. I set Lila up with Apple Pages, a very simple layout programme. She would fill in the pages, then I would stay up until 2am tidying it all up.

I then emailed local businesses to see if they could help and to our delight, Waterstones and Walthamstow Empire wanted to meet Lila. They offered prizes, while Stow Brothers kindly agreed to print all of our promotional posters.

Releasing photocopies of The Pilot wasn’t going to be an option any more, and Lila asked if it could be shiny and lovely like a ‘real’ magazine. I looked online and professional printing isn’t cheap so we simply crowdfunded it. It took us about a week to reach our target thanks to the amazing parents of Walthamstow, who believed in the project, and we managed to print 400 copies of the first issue.

Once the official launch was announced on Facebook, heaps of mums, dads, and grandparents contacted us in support and offered up their own little writers. Nicholas, whose greatest passion is nature; Gus, who feels strongly about the environment and animal rights; Evie, and her travels to New Zealand; and Lauren, who loves science experiments.

The Pilot magazine launched on 16th June at Waterstones in Walthamstow, when more than 60 people turned up to hear speeches from Lila and the writers. We have since been offered articles, poems, cartoons, playground craze ideas, and travel features, from kids all over Walthamstow and as far as Chile in South America!

The next quarterly edition of The Pilot will be released at the beginning of September and can be picked up at Waterstones, The Mall and The Mill. If your child is between nine and twelve years’ old and would like to publish their writing, or if you would like to register an interest in advertising so we can raise funds to print the next issue and keep it completely free, please get in touch! Submissions must be in by 15th July.


For more information about The Pilot and to get in touch:

Email [email protected]

Instagram thepilotmagazine

,