Common Sense Review
Updated July 2012

Start with a Book

Solid summer reading resource good for all seasons
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • You'll find a plethora of summer reading ideas here.
  • There's a nice focus on reading aloud and fluency.
  • Activity packets are available for a handful of books.
  • Books and activities are organized by theme.
  • Most content is for grown-ups to review, then implement with kids.
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.
Polly Conway
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense 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.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

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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What's It Like?

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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Is It Good For Learning?

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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