Jen Kraemer-Smith began working at TIME for Kids magazine in 1995, the year it was founded. The original idea was to adapt TIME content to teach elementary school students about current events. The challenge for the editors was obvious: How can stories written for adults be interesting, understandable, and appropriate for young children?
A key to the answer lay in design. Jen was among those who established the look and feel of TIME for Kids. She understood from the outset that a layout needs to engage a child before he or she has read a single word. She brought complex concepts to life, page after page, week after week, for 22 years.
As Jen poured her talent onto the pages of TIME for Kids, she rose through the ranks to become its Creative Director. During that time, she also became a mother to three children. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, early into her pregnancy with her third child. She fiercely fought cancer for the next seven years. For five of them, she continued working at TFK.
My lifelong insomnia and her anxious, sleepless nights became a bonding time for me and Jen. In the early hours, we dreamt up a product to help people with cancer cope and communicate. There wasn’t much we could control, but we found comfort in creating The Cancer Conversation, a boxed set of talking prompts, and it energized Jen to hear from people who found it helpful.
Jen was deeply devoted to her work. Her talent and imagination impacted the many millions of kids who read TIME for Kids for those 22 years, grabbing their attention and opening their eyes to the world beyond their backyards. She had a spirit we won’t forget and a standard we work to uphold.
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