Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2012

Start with a Book

Solid summer reading resource good for all seasons

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
K-6 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The lesson plans are detailed and support all reading levels.

Cons: There's nothing on the site for kids; it's mostly a spot for adults to find books that appeal to kids.

Bottom Line: The site has almost too much information on books for kids, but the choices it offers are great.

This is a great tool to share with parents who aren't sure how to keep up their kids' reading momentum during the summer. However, it's also full of advice and lesson plans that you can use all year long. It's very well-organized, so you should be able to find appropriate books and activities for even the pickiest readers. It may also be empowering for students to choose their own subjects for a summer reading list; the 24 reading themes are nice and varied.

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Start with a Book gives practical suggestions to parents and teachers who want to foster a love of reading in kids grades K-5. Users can choose a topic from a long list of subjects -- art, animals, nature, dinosaurs, and more. Then, they can purchase the books directly from Amazon or print a book list for the library. The site also lists ideas for extended learning activities, including related apps and websites, and it provides information from many sources on teaching reading and reading comprehension.

By providing topic-centric book choices and extended learning tools -- including recommending related websites and apps -- kids learn by reading, asking questions, discussing the book, and trying new activities related to the books and the books' topics. The teaching reading tips can help kids become better readers and listeners. 

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Kids can learn how reading about a topic of interest to them can enrich their lives and their education. Kids also can learn how to ask relevant questions and discuss with others what they're reading. While it's not user-friendly for young kids, adults are provided many excellent resources to help kids learn to love reading.

This site is a powerfully comprehensive resource for teachers who want to find great books in the topics that typically interest kids, and who want to teach reading skills. There's so much info here that it's almost overwhelming. It may be best at first to start with a single interest and gradually fan out on the site from there. It would be great if site creators would add a section just for kids; right now the site is generally for adults to find books, activities, and reading tips for kids, but not so much for kids themselves. 

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

A powerfully comprehensive resource for parents, teachers, and librarians who want to find great books, activities, and reading tips in the topics that typically interest kids. There's so much information here that it's almost overwhelming.

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

Kids will learn by reading, asking questions, discussing the book with their parent or teacher, and trying new activities related to the books and the books' topics.

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

Users can purchase books directly from Amazon.com or print a book list for the library. The site has ideas for extended activities, including related apps and websites, and provides information from many sources on teaching reading.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Melanie G. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Forestbrook Middle School
Myrtle Beach, SC
4
Great site for teachers with a wealth of information!

If you are a teacher or parent looking for a wealth of recommendations for reading books and student-friendly resources, this is the tool to use! I really like the way that the resources are grouped and I think that the resources are great. The reason that I could not give the highest possible rating is that it is not the type of resource that can be used as an independent tool in the classroom. It is not student user friendly but as a teacher resource, this is not one to miss.

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