What does it mean to raise a Texan? It’s a critical question but one that’s not so easy to answer. We know it’s much more complex than a family trip to the Alamo or a well-taught seventh-grade Texas history class. And we know that it means different things to different people, that there are as many ways to raise a Texan as there are kinds of Texans. And yet, it’s also evident that some common denominator binds us all together. For most of us, that shared identity begins in childhood, when an understanding of the unique character of this place we call home begins to dawn.

Our forthcoming September issue includes a very special report on the subject of how to raise a Texan. Every feature story in the magazine is dedicated to answering this question, from a variety of angles. Starting at the moment of birth, and progressing all the way through the many stages of Lone Star Parenthood until the kids leave home, we asked a diverse group of writers to weigh in on what it means to bring their kids up with a sense of Texan identity. The results span all the way from John Phillip Santos’ exploration of his infant daughter’s nascent world and Skip Hollandsworth’s madcap Texas road trip with his fifteen-year-old and her friends to Sterry Butcher’s dispatch from the magical world of the Dipper Ranch in far West Texas, where three boys live a life untouched by the modern world.

Those stories and a whole lot more will be on newsstands and online next week. But we couldn’t wait any longer to share the cover of this special issue. It showcases a few of the little ones from the next generation of Texans, all in their boots. In order to get this shot, we had to corral dozens more kids than we would ultimately need, and this behind-the-scenes video from the cover shoot gives a sense of what a hilarious job that turned out to be. The photographer is longtime TEXAS MONTHLY contributor Randal Ford. The video was shot and edited by Matthew Lemke:

Those cute kids represent the next generation of Texans. And the September issue represents the next generation of TEXAS MONTHLY. It’s the debut of a top-to-bottom redesign of our pages, by creative director T.J. Tucker. Not only did we tweak our logo, increase the font size, and revamp the whole look of the magazine; we also dramatically overhauled the pages themselves, rolling out a number of brand new features, from associate editor Jordan Breal’s new travel page to Matthew Diffee’s monthly illustration of a Texas critter, and a whole lot more. We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on, so we’ll be rolling out select pages over the next week on our Tumblr, and on Facebook and Twitter. But for the full experience, pick up a copy of the magazine, which goes on sale August 23.