Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2015


Cute social network lets kids log books and connect with other readers

Common Sense Says:
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1-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Social networking features, badges, and recommended books will delight and engage young readers.

Cons: The interface might feel a bit juvenile for the middle school set.

Bottom Line: Kids-only social network gives students a safe space to connect, allows students to showcase and share their reading progress.

Use Bookopolis to set up a safe, private social network for your students' free reading or in-class reading assignments. Assign book reports to students and have them submit their responses, then comment on your students' reading logs, reports, and reviews. Recommend books to your students individually or as a class. Keep track of your students' reading as a group or as individuals, including the number of minutes they've read and the number of pages they've completed.

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Bookopolis is a social reading site (and Chrome app) that allows students to log, rate, and review books they’ve read. With a parent's help, students create an account, choose an avatar, and create lists of books they’d like to read, books they're currently reading, and books they've already read. Kids can browse built-in book lists including curated lists by award winners, Common Core-aligned books, and read-alike ("if you liked this, try this") lists. These built-in lists are available for early readers (grades 1-3), older readers (grades 3-6), and middle school readers (grades 6-8). There's also a Fun & Games section where students can engage in word games, trivia, and puzzles. Students earn points and badges by logging their reading and recording their progress, and their friends, parents, and teachers can view their updates.

Teacher accounts have more extensive features that let teachers create classes, monitor reading progress, recommend books to kids, and create assignments linked to specific books. Kids can then submit book reports directly from the site. Keep in mind that users can link directly to vendor sites where books are for sale; there's an alert that lets kids know they're leaving the site, but it might not prevent purchases.

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Bookopolis also offers a great way for students to find new books to read and to reflect on their reading in a fun, safe environment. It's nice that kids can't create an account without their parent's email address and approval; it's a good way to keep adult supervision a key component of kids' use of the site. Bookopolis is like a Goodreads just for kids; it lets students create a record of what they've read, and the more they read, the more rewards they'll receive. Writing reviews lets students practice their communication and writing skills in a safe space where they can concentrate more on their words than on who'll read them. Badges and points may serve as good motivators for reluctant readers, and the charming animated design may keep kids coming back.

Bookopolis's social features would be even better if they let kids engage with their classmates in conversation rather than just in comments. For example, it would be great if kids could respond to their friends’ reading progress and book ratings, allowing for a discussion. Teachers can respond, but it would be neat to have an option for students to dialogue about books in this online setting. It would also be great if the included games promoted learning more explicitly or linked more explicitly to certain books; as it is, they're neat, but they seem like more of an afterthought to keep kids on the site than a meaningful learning extension.

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Overall Rating

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

The colorful interface and motivating badges are terrific. Kids will love browsing their friends' reading lists and playing games in the visually impressive Fun & Games section.

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

Reading books and writing reviews can transfer into knowledge and discussion in the classroom; more robust collaboration features would solidify these skills.

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 Mayor of Bookopolis has a nice blog, and helpful YouTube videos launch on login to get users started. Extensive FAQ section enables users to quickly find answers.

Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

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