A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn details about works of literature and learn to read more closely for multiple layers of meaning as they refer to SparkNotes' analyses of different titles. Parents may want to make sure teens are fully reading their assignments rather than relying on ideas presented in SparkNotes rather than developing their own or actually understanding the themes of the works. SparkNotes shouldn't be used as a replacement for fully reading literature, but it can certainly be used as a learning supplement.
Ease of Play
The options are clearly labeled and easy to follow. Downloading additional (free) titles for offline access is easy as well.
Violence & Scariness
Some of the works of literature summarized and analyzed by SparkNotes include violent scenes, which are graphically described.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some of the works of literature summarized and analyzed by SparkNotes include sexual themes, including violent sexual acts.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Some of the works of literature summarized and analyzed by SparkNotes include harsh language.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Kids will see clickable banner ads across the bottom of the screen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some of the works included feature drinking, drug use, and smoking.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the SparkNotes app features study guides for lots of required reading books. Their summaries include details from classic literature that may be inappropriate for young kids, though teens should be able to discuss the issues in the contexts of the works. Some works include violent or disturbing themes (such as Night by Elie Wiesel or Beloved by Toni Morrison). Others include sexual themes (Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx) or explicit language (such as The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger). As long as you're sure your kids are using SparkNotes as a supplement, not a replacement, it's a great resource for high school-age kids. Under the CCPA law you have the right to protect your personal information. Make a Do Not Sell request to Sparknotes.
Is It Any Good?
Though teachers and parents generally frown on kids using study aids such as SparkNotes without reading the full text, used well these particular resources can help teens better understand and analyze the literature after reading it. The SparkNotes library is extensive, with hundreds of titles available, and includes most high school and college reading lists. Parents may appreciate using the app as a way to refresh their memories of the works their kids are currently reading (or to get an idea of the work if they've not read it themselves). If you're concerned about kids using the app instead of reading an assigned book, keep in mind that sometimes, when kids have a preliminary understanding of a text's plot and characters, they're more easily able to understand the original text, especially in cases where the language and text complexity prove to be challenging. Students may even find inspiration in some of the ideas they read, bringing their own insights into class discussions and analytical writing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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