Call Me Ishmael

Website review by
Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Media
Call Me Ishmael Website Poster Image
Audio way for readers to enjoy stories; not all for kids.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn that Call Me Ishmael offers a unique way for users to share books they’ve read and to see experiences other readers have had with novels. They can simply call into Call Me Ishmael's voice mail and leave a story or an experience they've had because of a book they've read. One thing to note is that if a user submits a voice mail or responds to an all-call challenge, it's not guaranteed that her story will be shared on the site. But the ability to share her perspective on her favorite book or a story she's just read provides readers with an active role in discussing and exploring these stories, as well as the emotional impacts written tales can have. Call Me Ishmael places a new interactive spin on discovering meaning in every single book.

Positive Messages

Teens who love books will be enthralled hearing others' experiences with books. Though many messages are positive, some may not be appropriate for kids under 14.


Store provides branded Ishmael content, calling cards to promote ideas for the site.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Call Me Ishmael is a site for readers to share their love of books with listeners. Users dial a number and leave a voice mail about a book they loved or had a deep connection to, providing other listeners with their perspectives on their favorite books or stories. There's no content within the site that's inappropriate for kids, although there's a limited number of books that actually are written for teens.

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What's it about?

CALL ME ISHMAEL is a site created to celebrate and discover great books. Users dial a cell phone number (774-325-0503) and leave a voice-mail message about a book they loved or had a deep connection to. The creator of the site then uses a typewriter and types out the person’s story about that book, turning it into a YouTube video on his website. The site also has untranscribed calls, along with prompts to help callers think of what to say when they call.

Is it any good?

Call Me Ishmael has highly engaging stories that grab kids' attention right from the start. The site is a great way to connect kids who are readers to other readers' stories and experiences with books. Teens can learn about others' experiences with literature, find new literature to read, or submit their own literary experience to the site. It’s worth noting that the site is geared mainly toward adults, so not all the books are appropriate for all age levels (think Fifty Shades of Grey), so parents may need to guide their children through making positive video choices. But if you're looking for a way to introduce kids to books in a way that could engage them better than a simple written recommendation, Call Me Ishmael could be the best site around.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about age-level appropriateness of books. Since very few of the books on this site are for teens, should there be more to attract younger readers?

  • Families can talk about privacy when submitting something online. Why should you not use last names or locations when you're submitting things online?

Website details

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