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Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2013

Bookboard

Librarian-curated book collection motivates kids to read

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Grades
K-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Gives kids choices -- but not too many -- and focuses on their book interests with increasing accuracy.

Cons: No comprehension questions or suggestions for end-of-book extension activities.

Bottom Line: Bookboard is an innovative way to get kids reading books tailored to their interests.

At the time of this review, Bookboard's developers are testing how teachers and libraries can best use this app as a reading resource. There is no current subscription designed for school use. Presumably, teachers could now use one subscription for up to four student accounts, and monitor those student's progress individually via the progress report for each user, which includes the number of books and pages read, time spent reading, and more.

Or, teachers could use it with just one, class-wide account for providing a constant stream of new, genre or subject-specific books without taking up any more classroom space. The class could set reading goals and view the one user report to see everyone's progress throughout the year for listening to teacher-read books. 

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Editor's Note: Bookboard has been shut down and is no longer available.

Bookboard is a subscription-based book app that includes hundreds of books curated by a children's librarian and has a unique reward system. The app sorts books for each user's age, reading level, and subject. Most books run about 30 pages, but some books for older, independent readers are much longer. 

Teachers can register for a free trial or purchase a subscription to unlock all content. Up to four students can have user accounts on one subscription. To begin, teachers or kids choose a book from a sample of 25 on the screen's rotator. Users can see the cover and a basic synopsis for the book, the category it fits -- adventure, animals, bedtime, classics, humor, learning, mystery, people, and sports -- and the number of pages. Once you choose a book, simply swipe the page or tap the edge of the screen to turn the page. Whether they've finished a book or not, students can tap the "x" when they want to close it or star a book to save for later. The app rewards kids by letting them choose one of many on-screen treasure chests containing a book to unlock.  

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Nothing builds reading fluency like reading more books. Kids can also increase vocabulary and storytelling skills as they read the books on Bookboard. The selected books offer engaging illustrations and interesting stories. A few are audio (read-to-me) books, but you can't get those in trial mode. Bookboard's reward system is based on the idea that giving kids carefully limited reading choices and rewarding kids for reading by giving them more books increases reading engagement. It's a great way to steer kids toward books they'll love.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Highly engaging, and it becomes even more so as the app suggests books based on each kid's reading habits, interests, and preferred subject categories. The books are varied and easy to navigate in both traditional and audio formats.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Reading, reading, and more reading is the focus here. Books are geared to a kids' individual preferences. Reading books to unlock more books encourages and empowers kids. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Good introductory explainer and excellent reporting on how much and how long kids are reading are useful for both kids and parents. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher