The Friend! I seldom read it as a kid, though I have blurry memories of a “Friend Lady” coming to Primary to shill for it, I think. I also didn’t like Primary. The point is, I’m not a reliable source on Primary-age activities of the 1980s and early 1990s.
To the task at hand, the Church has announced a few changes to the Friend for 2017, all designed to help increasingly distracted kids get more out of the magazine and improve their discipleship.
1. Child-Friendly Paper
This is not to assume that the previous paper was unfriendly or even dangerous to children. Instead, the Friend will be printed on thicker paper that is more friendly to crayons. Ever used crayons on a traditional magazine? Torn pages for days. This seeks to rectify that and let kids have more fun with the activities in the magazine.
2. “Share A Heart”
This is pretty cool. Each issue of the Friend will feature the story of a child doing some good, whether it be donating items to the poor or working to help refugees. Children will be encouraged to send in a paper heart about their experiences, along with a photo. The winner gets massive street cred.
3. Monthly CTR Challenges
“Choose the Right” is the Primary theme for 2017, and each issue of the Friend will have a CTR-related story, coupled with a challenge card. Gotta catch ’em all.
4. Reading Chart and Church History Figures
In my inexperience, I assume every year has something along these lines; this iteration just happens to be focused on church history and the Doctrine and Covenants. They are what they sound like: a reading chart to hep families study scriptures together and monthly cutout figures of prominent folks in church history.
5. Bigger Preteen Section
This one is vital. The Church is keenly aware that preteens are vulnerable to all sorts of negative influences. As such the “For Older Kids” section has been expanded from four pages to eight, with a better focus on the needs of older primary-age kids.