Ranger Rick Goes High TechMy kids know that I write for Ranger Rick magazine and, I am sorry to say, they are not all that impressed. Don’t get me wrong. They love the magazine. But when asked about what I do, they say that my job is to “sit at a computer and type all day.” In their world, this is not nearly as cool as, say, fighting ninjas or scuba-diving for a living. (They have a point. Then again, those jobs are very hard to find.)
But I finally found a way to wow my two toughest critics. I brought home an iPad loaded with Ranger Rick’s Tree House, a brand new interactive version of Ranger Rick magazine. And, according to my kids, it is really, really cool.
Open the app, and you find yourself inside Ranger Rick’s cozy tree house. With a tap of a finger, you can move to a video screening room to watch leopards run and dolphins dive. You can read articles, complete with gorgeous photos and fun pop-ups, and follow the comic adventures of Rick, Scarlett, and the rest of the gang. Or play games and catch up on animal riddles and jokes. At the end, you can take a quiz to earn a badge.
My kids are 5 and 3—technically a little young for the Tree House, which is aimed at children ages 7-12. But they love scrolling through the pages of the articles as I read along. They watch the videos with rapt attention (and ask a million questions). And they don’t seem to mind that their little fingers can’t quite master the games yet—they are fascinated anyway.
I grew up reading Ranger Rick, and I am proud that the magazine is just as well done as it was almost 30 years ago. I’m also glad that it is adapting to its readership. Kids still read print magazines, thank goodness. But e-readers, smart phones, and tablets aren’t going anywhere, and I think that’s probably a good thing. Kids will still read that leopards can drag a whole antelope up into a tree (it’s true!). But now they can also watch it happen—plus hear the leopard roar. Isn’t that what we want: something that encourages our kids to explore and be curious?
That’s what I want. Well, that—and for them to realize just how cool my job is. And thanks to Ranger Rick’s Tree House, now they do.
Ranger Rick’s Tree House is available by subscription for $14.99 per year or by the single issue for $4.99.