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LitCharts

App review by
Ana Beltran, Common Sense Media
LitCharts App Poster Image
Comprehensive, free literary resource; watch for cheating.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

LitCharts aims to help kids understand complex themes and ideas in literature and can help kids improve understanding of a book, but it's important for parents to make sure kids are actually reading assigned books and using the app as a supplementary tool. 

Ease of Play

Navigating LitCharts is extremely simple, the information is organized in a clear manner, and the color coded theme tracker makes it easy to see how authors develops key points.  

Violence

Some literary titles included in LitCharts describe violent scenes and address themes associated with violence. 

Sex

Some literary titles included in LitCharts describe sexual content and address themes associated with sex. 

Language

Explicit or harsh language is present in some literary titles included in LitCharts.  

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some literary titles included in LitCharts describe scenes and themes that deal with drinking, smoking, and/or drugs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that LitCharts is an educational app that offers free literature guides. Embracing the same mission as SparkNotes, a resource many students turn to for help with assignments, LitCharts offers easy access to information on over 400 books. LitCharts also provides summaries of each chapter with a side-by-side analysis and explanation of themes. The “Quotes” tab organizes key quotes by location, character, and theme. Of course, resources like this can lead to cheating if kids decide to read the summaries instead of the book, so parents need to monitor use. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.  

User Reviews

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What's it about?

LITCHARTS is a digital platform that provides access to key information on over 400 titles with the goal of helping kids develop a better understanding of literary texts, supplement their analysis, and support them in completing academic assignments. The launch page lists book titles alphabetically, allowing kids to scroll to find the title they want to explore. Navigate the app by scrolling to explore different titles or by typing the book you’re looking for in the search box. The “Intro” tab provides historical context for the books and information about the author along with other key facts and extra credit ideas. The “Plot Summary” and “Characters” tabs gives readers big picture information, while the “Themes” and “Symbols” tabs provide a deeper analysis of the title. A color-coded theme tracker allows kids to easily identify quotes or chapters that address certain themes and see how themes develop throughout the book. A “How to Cite” tab shares how to cite each title when using LitCharts as a resource for academic reports or papers, explicitly providing MLA citation, Chicago Manual citation, and APA formats. Kids can contact LitCharts directly through the app; communication categories include requesting a title, providing feedback, or reporting errors.  

 

 

Is it any good?

Kids will find this free study guide to be a visually engaging, easy to navigate, tool that supports understanding and analysis, but it's important to use it wisely. Understandably, parents and educators may be concerned that LitCharts will be used to replace reading the actual text; however, it's a concern parents can address by showing kids how to use the tool as a support and by reinforcing the value of developing their own ideas and making personal connections to literature. Considering the demands students often face, LitCharts, as a supplementary tool may help kids understand books and themes with greater depth. Quotes can be sorted by chapter, character, or theme, which supports students writing academic papers and in need of quotes to support their arguments. The app’s features, such as the color-coded theme tracker and side-by-side presentation of summary, analysis, and theme, make for easy navigation and allow kids to see how themes and critical points develop throughout the book. All of the information offered by the app is actually free, and there are no ads, which makes it even more appealing. Overall, LitCharts offers a solid, on-screen experience that can help kids with literature analysis when used appropriately.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to use LitCharts as a resource to support understanding and analysis of a variety of books. It's meant to supplement the understanding of great literature, so talk about when it’s appropriate to use LitCharts and the value of reading the actual book in order to develop personal ideas and opinions.   

  • Talk about plagiarism and the importance of citing resources, including LitCharts, when writing reports or papers.  

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: forming arguments, reading, reading comprehension, text analysis, using supporting evidence, vocabulary
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, making conclusions, thinking critically
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: March 11, 2016
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 66.80 MB
  • Publisher: LitCharts LLC
  • Version: 2.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up

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