Timbuktu Magazine has been touted as the first iPad magazine for kids. And since I’m not a kid, I gave my iPad to my 6 year old daughter Grace and had her give it a try while I observed and took notes.
First off, there were definitely some barriers to entry for my little girl, such as the reading level. I’d say that it’d be a couple of years before my daughter could pick this up and read much of what’s written — and she reads at a Grade One level. I had to read much of the text to her throughout the magazine. She was, however, able to connect some of the pages I’d read to her to things referenced throughout the magazine. If you download Timbuktu Magazine for your child and they are of a younger age, you’re going to be reading it to them.
The navigation is similar to other iPad magazines; you can flip either left to right or (in some cases) up and down) to scroll through pages and sections of Timbuktu Magazine. You can return to the table of contents by touching the top left corner of the screen. After being taught how to navigate the iPad, my daughter was well on her way to making her way through the magazine.
The thing that my daughter enjoyed most about the app was the media integration — the audio interviews with the different animals and many of the videos (although we she tired very quickly of the one describing the ice machine). She watched the animated walrus video and listened to the animal interviews a couple of times, so the real treat for kids in Timbuktu Magazine is in how it uses rich media within the app’s pages.
The imagery is fun and playful, which was very appealing to my daughter. Navigation was smooth and the app’s ability to exploit the iPad’s audio and video functionality is what really made me daughter smile.
After she was done going through the issue a few times, I asked her some questions about what she thought of Timbuktu Magazine:
Me: What did you like the best?
Grace: The videos and talking stuff.
Me: What didn’t you like?
Grace: The stuff that I couldn’t read. All the words were boring for me.
Me: If you could spend some of your allowance on it, would you buy it? (Note: I couldn’t tell her how much future issues would be because there isn’t any in-app indication nor is there any on the devleoper’s website.)
Grace: I only liked some parts. If I liked all of it, I would buy it.
Timbuktu Magazine is available as a free download in The App Store.