UI student literary magazine Snapshots: stories for children

“Snapshots” is a new literary magazine for children. It was created by University of Iowa freshman Josephine Geiger-Lee, Noelle Franzone, and Hannah Cargo. They plan on working closely with the Children’s hospital and the community to involve kids.



Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

A conversation at Freddy’s between three University of Iowa freshmen prompted the creation of an Iowa City children-focused literary magazine.

Josephine Geiger-Lee and Noelle Franzone met on a roommate matching website before living together, and they met Hannah Cargo on a campus scavenger hunt.

As children tend to have less opportunities in the literary town of Iowa City, Geiger-Lee, Franzone, and Cargo are working to balance the scales. Cargo said Snapshots’ purpose is to involve people within Iowa City’s artistic community in creating a magazine accessible for children ages 4-14.

According to the Snapshots mission statement, the magazine strives to make an impact on children’s creative experiences while also giving them a lighthearted and interactive experience.

“The primary goal [is] just to get different kinds of literature and art and everything in between, and get that out to kids in our community,” Cargo said.

Geiger-Lee, Franzone, and Cargo all currently hold executive positions in Snapshots, but only a month ago, they were all strangers to each other and new to the UI campus.

All three students are English and creative writing majors, so they naturally wanted to be involved with student publications. Cargo said the one thing they all noticed is how it’s currently considered smart to write about sad or depressing things.

They wanted to take things in a different direction. After finding that there was already a publication focused around happiness, Horizon, they decided to focus on children. Geiger-Lee said this also opened their eyes to how unexplored children’s literature is.

The three women said starting a literary magazine as first-years was nerve-wracking, but the UI’s literary community was extremely welcoming and made the experience much less stressful.

The name of the literary magazine is also meaningful to the project, as it calls back to how people remember pieces of their childhood.

“All those memories, the good parts of your childhood you can remember, they come in like snapshots,” Franzone said. “They’re not the full moment. You don’t know your full life or like the date or what was going on, but it’s just this snapshot of a good moment.”

The students have their own goals for what children will get out of reading Snapshots. Cargo said she loved to go to the library as a kid and read and doodle in coloring books, and she hopes the magazine will serve as a channel for kids to both be inspired by the stories they see and give them a chance to create something themselves.

Geiger-Lee said she thinks kids will benefit from reading the magazine because it comes from real people in Iowa, as opposed to a Californian author, for example, who a child has never heard of.

Franzone said she had a kid’s magazine growing up that always inspired her to want to write, which she hopes kids will feel as well.

One of Snapshots’ original goals was to be highly involved with the children’s hospital. Geiger-Lee said, because of COVID-19 and new strains of the flu, this objective has shifted, but not disappeared. Community groups and elementary schools will also potentially reap the benefits of the literary magazine.

“We could do something along the lines of a Zoom call where we put up a prompt and we all get to write to the prompt and the children get to share what they wrote out loud,” Geiger-Lee said.

Steps that Geiger-Lee, Cargo, and Franzone took to prepare for opening submissions included developing their Instagram account, creating a team, sending emails to people in the UI literary community, and designing a general idea for what the magazine will look like.

Currently, the first-years are working on creating a website for Snapshots.

Since the magazine is still new, the first release date is tentative, but Franzone said they  aim to have the first issue of Snapshots out in April 2022 — and one day, possibly release issues bi-yearly.

“We started a lit mag and it wasn’t as daunting as you might think,” Geiger-Lee said. “Even if it is scary, you have people who you can reach out to and they’ll always be able to help you.”