Great apps for kids: Magic Town
Feature writer Mags tells us how to make reading books interactive and fun for kids.
- What is Magic Town?
- How to access Magic Town
- Exploring Magic Town
- Reading Modes
- A parent and child’s experience
I was very excited when I first heard about Magic Town as I knew it would offer something very unique and special to children and their parents. Magic Town is a virtual world where you will find houses containing well known children’s books, along with games to play and characters to meet and interact with. The graphics in Magic Town are superb and will instantly appeal to kids, while the narration is professional and well suited to each book. It is aimed at children aged 2 to 6+ years.
Magic Town can be accessed from any computer with the internet or by downloading the free iPad App. There is a certain amount of content available for free with full access to all content if you subscribe. When you first log in you will be prompted to set up a profile for your child where you can add your child’s name and age to help tailor the Magic Town experience. You have the option of adding up to four different profiles. Once set up, you are ready to enter Magic Town where you will be greeted by Max and Izzy, the guides who will help show you around.
In Magic Town you will find different houses, some shaped like castles, others rockets, helicopters and giant cakes. Each of these houses contain three books, all of which are popular kids stories including titles such as the Aliens Love Underpants series by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by David McKee and The Superfairies by Janey Louise Jones. There are also games to choose from.
Every day there is a new free book which can be revealed by finding Louis the Storyteller,
a wise old lion who travelled the world collecting stories and arrived in Magic Town where he planted his staff causing a tree bearing stories to grow. I think the whole background story of Louis really adds to the ‘magic’ in Magic Town.
There are four reading modes to choose from for each live book which are as follows:
Explore – interactive tasks and questions are built into the narrative. This mirrors the way a teacher shares stories with students.
Read Together – where you can read to your child or if your child is able they can read themselves.
Watch – where the story auto-plays and is narrated.
Play – also narrated, but has interactive touch points.
Since my son, Ben, and I started using Magic Town we have read more books than ever before. It really has inspired a love of books in Ben which is, perhaps, due to the different dimension that reading books in this way adds. One thing is for certain, each book we read definitely seems to have a very significant effect on him. He talks about characters and retells stories long after we are finished reading them.
Ben and I mostly use the Read Together mode which is great for sharing reading time. However, I also find the Play mode very useful when using the iPad app, especially in situations such as long car journey. One tip though, make sure you download a selection of books to your library before you leave so they will be ready and available to read.
As a parent, the thing that I find great about Magic Town is the accessibility and choice. It really is just like having a library at your finger tips. Reading books with your child is one of the best things you can do educationally, however it is also very rewarding and makes for wonderful parent-child bonding time.
Author Disclaimer: I do some freelance work for Mindshapes and Magic Town, but the views expressed in this review are my own.