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

Builda the Re-Bicycler

Thoughtful storybook with good ethics on reducing and recycling

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication & Collaboration
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Interactivity and discussion questions help engage kids in the story and the solution, and the story features a strong female protagonist.

Cons: Music on the first few pages is hectic and can't be turned off without also turning off narration.

Bottom Line: This adorably illustrated book app makes it easy for students to learn about a complex topic.

Overall, Builda the Re-Bicycler is a great way to introduce young kids to reusing. It also presents a great role model for young girls, as Builda is an engineer and business owner. As part of a print and digital book series called Tales from Midlandia, the book is set in the same imaginary community as the others in the series, all of which deal with "universal concepts and social situations." Builda the Re-Bicycler gently introduces young kids to the idea of reusing and remind us all of its importance.


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Editor's Note: Builda the Re-Bicycler has closed and is no longer available.

Builda the Re-Bicycler is an interactive book that teaches young kids the importance of reducing, recycling, and especially reusing. Perfect for lessons about Earth Day or any science or social studies lesson on environmental stewardship, the story centers on Builda, who owns a bike factory. Citizens were throwing bikes away, even if there was only one broken part or they simply wanted a new bike of a different color. Builda starts to reuse the parts from previously discarded bikes to fix other bikes rather than throwing them away. Through the story, kids learn that reusing keeps stuff out of landfills and reduces the need for new things. In addition to its environmental lessons, Builda can also facilitate early reading skills in read-to-me mode, where each word of the story is highlighted as it’s read. Three discussion questions at the end of the book help spark classroom discussion and encourage reader reflection.

First, choose a story mode for Builda the Re-Bicycler: auto-play, read-to-me, or read-by-myself. If the book is read by a narrator in auto-play or read-to-me modes, simply use the arrows to turn pages and view the words as they’re highlighted when spoken. Tap, swipe, or shake each page's interactive elements, and tap on the hidden "Inks" to find all seven. The menu bar at the bottom can be accessed on each page. Three discussion questions at the end of the book help parents further the lesson.

While the message of a wasteful culture harming the environment may be serious, the story's cute illustrations keep it light. Still, this 14-page story isn't a quick read; some younger kids may have difficulty remaining engaged the entire time, even with the interactive elements. The only (small) irritant on this app is the music on the first few pages, which is hectic and seems out of place with the illustrations. Fortunately, the music settles down on subsequent pages.

Overall Rating

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

Engaging story with a compelling problem-solving idea and Earth-friendly message. As kids listen to or read the story, they are searching each page for interactive elements to tap and seven little creatures hidden throughout the story. 

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

Kids learn by reading or listening to the story as it is narrated. Kids also learn by thinking about the recycling ideas and issues presented in the story and answering the discussion questions verbally with a parent or teacher.

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

The info tab on the main menu bar provides written instructions. The page-by-page icons also found on the main menu bar helps kids pinpoint and return to specific pages.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

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