As a former Deputy Head and Class Teacher for 22 years teaching children to have a love of learning and a love of books is very important to me as reading  is a vital life skill that I feel very passionate about – because kids who can’t read lack confidence, lack opportunities and are disempowered in all areas of life.

I used to teach Reception aged children for a number of years and still have hugely fond memories of teaching my 35 five year olds to read. There are many ways to make learning fun and my advice is to read plenty of stories to your child from a very young age, sing nursery rhymes with them and ask them open – ended questions about what they see in the pictures as well as what they read, to develop their comprehension, their vocabulary, their critical thinking skills and their imagination.

It’s also important to share stories with your children every day and to read to them. Listening to them read little and often is the best way to develop their skills and their concentration.  15 minutes every day is FAR better than an hour once a week!

Language is the way we communicate with others. It helps us to understand ourselves and to make sense of the world and reading is an important way to learn language and learn about the world.

Reading and story time can be special time for both you and your children. If it is a relaxed and happy time, it helps build good relationships between you and your child and it really helps build a sense of security and self esteem as you spend quality time together reading, talking, listening and sharing. 

 I love sharing a picture book with children –  turning over the pages, absorbing the drawings and chatting about the characters but  I also embrace the new way to enjoy books too.

Times have changed and technology has now firmly entered our children’s lives whether we agree with it or not, and kids of today are constantly bombarded by screens and have become a generation of “screenagers” but it’s all about how we embrace and use this exciting new medium to teach and interact with our children sensibly. 

So to support this literacy journey I have just discovered the very magical world of “MagicTown” a new and exciting alternative to children’s rather inane games that can teach little and are often really just passive electric babysitters. Finally here is a really wholesome and engaging alternative to children’s games on computers that is friendly, welcoming, and a very safe online environment for children from the age of 2-6 years to explore and in the process, discover some of the finest children’s books and authors.

“MagicTown” is bringing something new – a place where children can lose themselves in a world of high quality books and storytelling, and as children take their first steps on their digital journey that will ultimately lead them to the land of social networking, “MagicTown” is a lovely place to start.

“MagicTown” uses a special interactive storytelling format called “Livebook”  and children  can choose from four ways to interact.

The explore mode reads the book aloud with animations, pausing to flash when a child clicks on a character to make it move. Every so often, the story stops and the narrator asks a reading comprehension question which can be answered by selecting from three visual options.

The play mode reads the story aloud and periodically stops to flash so you know to click on things in a scene to move the story forward.

Another option is to simply watch as the story animates and is read aloud.

The last option is to read the book together or for your child to read with no narration but with animation by themselves.

So with these four ways to explore each book, your child can tailor the way they want to interact with the story. 

I particularly like that “Magic Town” offers a new  free story  every day as this is a brilliant  way to encourage and motivate kids to keep exploring stories regularly.

What I particularly like is that “MagicTown” brings families together; inspiring them to share stories. I also like the fact  that the technology was developed with academic input from early childhood development experts and educators, including Professor Paul Harris from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and that it supports children’s early literacy development in a fun, safe, easy to navigate and age appropriate way.

The teacher in me would like to see a version of the story where the words are highlighted as a child reads along with them, to develop the child’s reading fluency and confidence. Also it would be very helpful if a child could click on a word if they are having trouble reading it on their own to ensure self correction.

MagicTown is currently available as an iPad app, and will later be released on iPhone, iPod touch, and other devices.

Remarkably all users have access to a new free story every day but a subscription gives you full access to all the stories in “MagicTown” and the ability to set up profiles for four children.

There are several pricing options:

One Month: £7.99 / $11.99 / €9.99:

Six Months: £39.99 / $59.99 / €44.99

One year: £49.99 / $74.99 / €59.99.

Go and explore ‘Magic Town’ for yourself it’s a fun  place where stories live 🙂  http://www.magictown.com/