New online magazine – written for kids, by kids during lockdown
Two sisters in North London take advantage of lockdown to enter the world of digital publishing. Isla McGuckin reports.
Constructive, creative and collaborative
While so many grown-ups have struggled to remain motivated and productive during lockdown, two young North London sisters have taken full advantage of the opportunity to launch an online magazine with the goal of entertaining their peers.
Like children the world over, with their school – the North London Collegiate School (NLCS) – closed, the girls had some unexpected spare time on their hands. Eliana Elton, aged 10, and Elysia Elton, aged 9, were determined to do something constructive, creative and collaborative with their time. It was important – for both of them – to have a project that they could work on together, though. And so, after just a little bit of brainstorming, the sisters came up with the idea for Magnolia – a digital magazine, created especially for children.
The magazine’s name, Magnolia, was inspired by a neighbour’s tree, whose beautiful pink and white blossoms, at this time of the year, spill into the girls’ garden. The digital publication is packed full of features with everything from puzzles and poetry to outdoor activities and cookery. The girls even allocate a page in the magazine so that their 6-year-old brother, Raphael, can make his own contribution, too.
After coming up with a broad concept for Magnolia, the girls quickly set to work, keen to transform their idea into a reality. The pair planned out the entire magazine – using paper and pens, initially. And then, using Powerpoint, they created a super simple, digital publication to which they added video and audio clips.
Determined to have a more professional looking finished product – and to get their magazine online, interactive and shareable – the girls asked their parents to undertake some research into the best digital publishing platform for them to use. After a little bit of Google Searching, the family discovered 3D Issue, a software company based in a small town in Co. Donegal in the north-west of Ireland.
“At this really difficult time of self-isolation and social distancing, we wanted to share the wonderful things around us with our friends,” say Magnolia’s young editors. “We chose 3D Issue’s flipbooks format for Magnolia to get the look and feel of a magazine. Because it’s online, we can share it with children around the UK and even around the world. In fact, we’ve already had feedback from friends here in the UK, in the US, Ireland and Israel!”
Using the company’s software, the finished version of the girls’ Magnolia magazine is, indeed, highly interactive. The publication is packed full of snazzy features to keep young readers both engaged and entertained.
“It was great to be able to build in these special features”, say the girls, “and we learned a lot about how a proper digital magazine works”
With the help of the people at 3D Issue, they learned how to link the topic headings in the magazine’s contents section to the relevant pages so that the reader can jump straight to the section of interest. Riddle solutions are revealed at the click of a button, and there are audio clips of book reviews.
The girls have included weblinks to a selection of puzzles and craft activities that they have discovered online. There’s even a video tutorial demonstrating how to bake their grandma’s signature apple pie.
According to Paul McNulty, the Founder and CEO of 3D Issue, “The girls were simply amazing. From Day One, they had an impressively clear vision of the type of publication that they wanted to achieve, they strived for digital publishing perfection – making super creative use of things like our flipbooks’ audio, video and web link features.”
With each issue of the magazine, the girls will choose a different charity to promote and support. For their launch issue, the girls chose Smile Aid, a charity that – by constructing hand pumps, tube wells, and water filter plants – provides clean running water in places affected by water shortages.
Magnolia will be published regularly, throughout the year, and the girls are already busy with their strategic planning and creative thinking for issue number two.