Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Q-files Website Poster Image
Encyclopedia entries give brief but useful info on topics.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about social studies, science from short entries on space, technology, geography, other topics. Sections feature information on prehistoric life, historical happenings, astronomy or related space subjects. Kids can also read about the human body, animals, plants. A culture portion covers art, film, literature, religion. It's an encyclopedia, so they'll need to use other resources if they want a lot of detail. Visual items are included to help explain concepts. In general, site provides a solid introduction to a number of topics.

Violence & Scariness

Some references to war and violence, but nothing especially detailed or gory.

Sexy Stuff

Kids won't see plugs for the publisher's books, but they'll need to subscribe to view more than sample items on a page. An individual/family subscription is $54 a year; the site also offers a free 14-day trial.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Q-files is a U.K.-based site that offers kid-friendly introductions to history, culture, geography, space, and other topics. The tone is appropriate for independent reading or classroom reference, and kids can click on the U.S. flag at the top of the screen to see a version without British spelling, which could throw some readers off. They may see information about battles or war but won't find anything too violent or otherwise inappropriate, and users can't post anything, so the site provides a safe experience. Kids can partake in a 14-day free trial that doesn't require parents to enter any payment information; for ongoing use, they'll need a paid yearly subscription.

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What's it about?

Q-FILES is an online encyclopedia created by U.K.-based publisher Orpheus Books Limited. The content, which Orpheus says is updated weekly, focuses on social studies and science. It's also geared toward Key Stage 2 and 3 (or grades 3 to 8 in the U.S.). Entries feature images, links to other entries, and a short description. Some also include brief fun fact items, and kids can view answers to related questions in Q-&-A items. A paid yearly subscription is required to see more than one item per page, but kids can test the site out with a 14-day free trial.

Is it any good?

This reference website provides an easy-to-understand, informative look at numerous topics, even if the listings on this site don't dive especially deep. Q-Files has an impressively diverse range of entries, including items on famous leaders such as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of the republic of Turkey, and Charlemagne. It also covers world population growth, the solar system, and more. Whimsical fare, such as which elements were often included in castles built in the Middle Ages, are featured along with more serious subjects, such as World War II and ecosystems. Kids will also see extensive listings on dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, and other items. The technology and science sections provide great diagrams and illustrations to show kids how electricity, plate tectonics, and other concepts work. The Q-news, Q-facts, and Q-&-A items offer additional information on some subjects.

That being said, this is an encyclopedia, so the entries aren't suitable as citation-worthy resources for a research paper, and kids won't get a comprehensive look at each topic. Overall, though, the site is a great reference tool: It can help kids quickly find out about unfamiliar concepts, inspire kids to learn more about them, and introduce kids to new subjects.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about news and media literacy. How do you know which websites to trust? What do those websites look like? 

  • This "encyclopedia" looks different from the older multivolume, hardcover ones, but why are encyclopedias useful, and what are their limitations?

Website details

  • Subjects: Science: animals, astronomy, biology, chemistry, ecosystems and the environment, electricity, energy, plants
    Social Studies: cultural understanding, events, geography, historical figures, history
    Arts: dance, film, music
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, asking questions, investigation, thinking critically
    Self-Direction: academic development, personal growth
  • Genre: Educational
  • Topics: Dinosaurs, History, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
  • Price: An individual/family subscription is $54 a year. Schools can subscribe for $125 for up to 250 learners, plus $0.50 for each additional student.
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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