great website for parents

July 13, 2009

While looking for information on a book I was reviewing the other day, I came across a really great website called commonsense media.

It provides reviews for movies, books, TV, games, and websites. Unlike some sites that just contain reviews that any one with a computer could have written, these also contain a review by one of the site's editors.

Here is what they say about their reviews:

"Common Sense Media's book reviews and ratings for all ages are based on child development principles. We give you trustworthy information so you can pick what's best for your family. We may know media, but you're the expert on your kids."

I searched through the site a bit--only in the book section so far (big surprise)--and found a lot of helpful information. Here's what I liked:

  • You can choose an age category to search in--I stayed in the Ages 2-4 section and found a lot of titles that we were familiar with, but also a lot of books we have never read.

  • You can limit your search according to reading level--we stayed in the picture book category.

  • The books are clearly labeled as "on" "iffy" or "off" so it is easy to see which ones to perhaps avoid because of content issues.

  • Each book has a "what parents need to know" section that clearly explains why the editor rated it a certain way. It also has a "parents can talk about" section that provides different topic suggestions that complement the themes and content of the story.

  • There is also a place for members to add their own review to the site--you can read what other parents have to say about the books and see how they rated it using a 5 star system. As a member, you can also add your own reviews.

  • My favorite thing about the site is that you can click on various lists such as "Best Dr. Seuss" or "Summer Reading" or "Best Read Aloud Books." These lists are completely addictive to me and I'm sure will provide countless hours of inspiration for my own 'best of" lists on this blog.

  • You can personalize the site for your kids by creating a free account and putting in their ages. I did this for juliet and it took less than a minute to set it up.
If you haven't already noticed, I only review books that I love on this blog--I really don't have time to write about things I don't like--but I found the negative reviews just as helpful as the positive ones.

Just for kicks, I clicked the search settings to show only books labeled "off". I was really curious to see what the editors thought was inappropriate for a two year old. What I found made me laugh out loud and instead of driving me away from the book, actually made me want to go out, get the book, and see it for myself.

Here's what it said about one book "Parents need to know that illustrations of scary and drunk spiders may frighten young children and the story, with its theme of seduction, is inappropriate."

Sounds like a great read to me. :)

Anyways, I think this is a great tool for parents and I thought I would share it with you today. I hope it helps!

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