24/05/2012 15:38 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Stephen Fry Backs 'Magic' Virtual World For Kids' Favourite Storybook Characters

Magic Town

Children's books' classic characters have been transformed for the modern age - in a virtual world.

Favourites like Elmer, Winnie the Witch and Little Princess have been brought to cyber-life online to encourage youngsters' literary skills. encourages kids to visit their well-known picture book characters in their vividly illustrated online homes – and the initiative has been given the backing of one of the nation's most famous wordsmiths.

Celebrity Stephen Fry is so enamoured that he Tweeted MagicTown to his enormous army of 4 million-plus followers.

It has also impressed the Literacy Trust. While Professor Paul Harris, from the respected Harvard Graduate School of Education, said: "We've known for a long time that reading stories to children is one of the very best ways to enrich their language and stimulate their imagination.

"Magic Town gives parents a tool that can help them to engage children in an inspiring world of stories, a world that will expand as children grow and explore." is the first interactive world based on picture book characters. It provides young children with a single destination for high quality, animated and interactive stories.

It has signed up 70 popular picture book titles, including more than 20 free stories, with plans to add 10-15 new titles every month.

Mindshapes – the company behind it has a mission to "enhance the way children and adults learn through interactive gameplay".

Here's how it works: in Magic Town, children meet Max and Izzy, animated guides who show them around a vibrant landscape of uniquely illustrated houses.

Each house is inhabited by famous picture book characters and holds interactive stories and related games.

There are houses devoted to fairy tales, original titles, and well-known series such as Aliens Love Underpants, Winnie the Witch, Elmer, Little Princess and World of Happy.

Each story is presented as a Livebook, the company's interactive storytelling format. There are several modes for reading each Livebook.

A child can listen to a narrator; read with an adult; or answer interactive questions related to the story.

David Begg, Mindshapes CEO said: "Magic Town is a ground-breaking way for families to share story time.

"As a father, I was searching for quality digital content for my kids, but nothing met the mark.

"So we set out to build what we couldn't find. Parents can feel confident that Magic Town is based on sound educational principles and can inspire children to develop a lifelong passion for reading and learning through play."

There are 20 free stories available at launch and prices start from £7.99 for a month's subscription to £49.99 for the whole year.