Thursday, 6 April 2017

I was given a set of four magazines by for review purposes and this post records my opinion of three of them.

Age Group: 8+

Storytime is a monthly publication by Luma Works in London and is an exclusive partner of the publication. The issue I received contained eight familiar stories, including The Wizard of Oz, The Gingerbread Man and The Lion and the Mouse.

The magazine is like a treasury of stories, except that it is much thinner. We own a number of story treasuries, but I often think twice about bringing those out of the house as they are very heavy. However, I found it very convenient to pop Storytime into my bag and it came in handy on car rides and when waiting for food. I had an enraptured audience of two as I read aloud.

Besides stories, there are activities at the back of the magazines. There is also a word bank containing the definitions of difficult words. What I like most is the Story Magic page. It encourages creativity and thinking. An example of a task on that page is to think up a mnemonic to help remember the points of a compass.

Although marketed for children 8 and above, I think the stories can be read to preschool children and they will be captivated as well. Three-and-a-half-year-old Little An is an example of a young 'reader', who asked for Gingerbread Man to be read a number of times.

Age: 10+

The I magazine covers a range of topics, which includes Chow Down (Yum!), Sports and Games and Dance, Music and Drama.

It was interesting to read about how Roti John was created and how its name came about. I also drooled at the picture of the said dish and made up my mind to whip up the dish myself soon as the article made cooking it sound so simple.

I was also motivated enough to attempt the Tease Your Brain section of Chow Down. I did not believe that there was only one possible answer at first and spent time considering other options, only to be convinced that the answer given was the sole solution.

Each section also contained a composition-like article. As a former primary school English teacher, I must say that there were quite a number of good words and phrases used in the articles, and the usage of extensive vocabulary seems to sit well with composition markers in Singapore. The meanings of these words and phrases are given in the word bank. However, my qualm is that the plots of the 'compositions' seem predictable and I did not have to read the whole pieces to know how they ended. Don't trust my opinion though! Do grab a copy of the magazine to see if you agree with me. :)

Another feature of this magazine that amazed me was the inclusion of materials for oral exams. I have not checked out the video stimulus, but it sounds like good material for Chinese oral practice.

I also enjoyed the rebus puzzles at the end and thought that the advice given to instil confidence were sound, unlike those given by agony aunts of trashy magazines.

I Think
Age: 14+

I was most excited when I saw that the I Think magazine invites readers to send in their essays and selected essays are paid for. I used to send in essays and book reviews that my students wrote to a now defunct magazine and I was always very happy for them whenever their writing was published.

Aside, I Think includes thought-provoking opinion pieces and invites readers to critically think about the issues raised. In the example below, the writer opined that while there are pop singers like Selena Gomez who supports charitable organisations, the majority of pop artistes propagate undesirable themes in their choice of songs or even run into trouble with the law. The reader is asked if they agree with the opinion and not to simply accept what has been written.

I was glad for the choice of the above article. Personally, I have never been into pop music, but as I have joined an exercise class which uses such music, I became acquainted with some pop songs. Upon listening closely to the lyrics, I have been horrified and embarrassed at the themes that are being crooned. It is good to make teenagers think about their choice of music. 

There was also a mention of Singapore's Teng Ensemble, a cool group of musicians who play an eclectic mix of instruments. I chanced upon a YouTube video of the group playing Disney pieces previously and thought they were innovative and interesting. This is certainly music that is wholesome, in contrast to some songs that top charts today. 

At the end of the magazine, there are some worksheets based on the articles, which the diligent student may find useful. 

I enjoyed reading all three of the magazines and will be recommending some of the articles to my son to read. I think he will be interested in the puzzles in I and the word banks in the various magazines will be helpful to him.

Do visit for more information or to get your copy today. 

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