This summer I discovered Biblionasium.com, a social network platform for kids centered on the books they read and recommend to others.
It’s thoughtfully designed to safeguard kids online (teachers or parents have to sign up the kids, and monitor them online), and quite kid-friendly, with nice graphics, easy to navigate menus, and helpful tips that pop up (sometimes too much) along the way.
The site is great for librarians and classroom teachers, as well as parents who’d like to start a reading group for their child. It allows kids to identify books they want to read or have read, write and share recommendations, and keep a log of their reading. For parents, there are some helpful tools to help them identify their child’s independent reading level (they use the Lexile system), and you can set up “challenges” for readers and personalize the “rewards” for when kids complete the challenge (personally, I like the reward of spending some quality one-on-one time doing something, rather than a material gift). The site definitely “gamifies” participation – there are badges for when you complete books, logs, make connections – you name it.
The site is less useful if you plan to only use it with one or two children. Yes, you can document reading progress online, but the real motivation that engages kids in the site is the social aspect. Also, if you are a parent, it may be difficult to convince other parents to join in – many are skeptical of online social networks for kids (in many cases, well they should be!). Sometimes it’s easier if the child’s school has already been using the site – then they already have a built-in network, and parents have a greater degree of trust in the site. Finally, the ability for kids to write recommendations is somewhat limited due to a template formula. I wish the site allowed for a bit more flexibility with reviews. They probably limit it due to security concerns.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend Biblionasium as a way to engage and motivate readers. If you know of other apps or sites that work similarly, please share them!
PRO’s of Biblionasium
- Easy, safe, and kid-friendly website.
- Ability to recommend, rate, and write reviews for books for your social network.
- Parents and teachers can monitor the back-end and set up “challenges” to complete.
- Lots of help identifying “best fit” books for kids based on reading level and interest.
- Gamification of site encourages continued engagement.
CON’s of Biblionaisum
- Must have a social network of at least 5 to really engage kids; may be difficult for parents to establish this network.
- Limited ability to customize book reviews.
If you are celebrating Christmas this week, have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday! Keep on reading!