Read to Know Family

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Read to Know Family Website Poster Image
Concise, kid-friendly news coverage -- but it isn't free.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Current events, news coverage, a variety of places and people. From articles on local U.S. laws to items about endangered species and medical advancements, kids will be exposed to a wide array of history, civics, geographical, other topics; may also encounter new vocabulary words. They'll get ample reading experience, and some stories tie issues into bigger context. With kid-centric tone, can be an excellent way to introduce kids to new concepts, potentially inspire them to seek out more information.

Positive Messages

Kids are encouraged to understand both sides of issues and be inquisitive about the world around them.

Violence

Some articles touch on famous murders and other crimes, such as the Lizzie Borden case, but they don't include graphic pictures or many gory details.

Sex

Although a few items mention events that involved rape, the topic is handled respectfully; nothing salacious is published on the site.

Language
Consumerism

Requires a paid subscription, but kids won't see any ads.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Items that mention prescription drug abuse or other substance-related topics are handled in an investigatory, not exploitive manner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Read to Know Family is an online current events site focused on providing content that's appropriate for kids. There's a cost to access the articles posted on the site -- a year's subscription is $35. While some topics might mention unsavory topics like murder, rape, or substance-related topics, these are handled in a respectful, authoritative manner. Kids won't see anything inappropriate, and images are clearly acceptable for all ages. Users also can't comment on news items, which helps ensure the language used on the site is fine and that they won't come in contact with strangers.

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What's it about?

READ TO KNOW FAMILY is an online current events magazine for kids in fifth grade or above. Its publisher, Knowledge Unlimited, also offers NewsCurrents, a site that provides guides that educators can use in weekly student discussions. Each Read to Know issue has a half-dozen or so articles that include quizzes to help with comprehension. Regular features highlight countries and historical events that occurred that week; kids can also guess a country or person's identity using clues. Updates are published 48 weeks a year.

Is it any good?

This news-based site offers a weekly dose of trending topics that should appeal to everyone, from celebrities who recently passed away to Supreme Court changes. The articles on Read to Know Family, while brief, do a good job of explaining each subject; in addition to more hard-hitting current events items, kids will also see a few just-for-fun pieces mixed in, which helps keep the site from feeling too serious.

Reading about recent events can provide a number of benefits. Kids get a better understanding of the world around them, as well as how power structures and countries are connected; they may also discover some new terms in articles. The site developers have made an effort to include quizzes and thought-provoking questions, which can help kids feel involved in the learning process, and a few printable activities and other resources are also available to enhance comprehension. Unfortunately, the site design isn't quite as strong as it could be; the layout would benefit from more images and a more updated style. Also, because news sites are, by nature, somewhat word-intensive, the mix of different fonts and font sizes can look a little messy, which can make knowing what to look at first on some pages unclear. That said, the content is well-written and informative, which really is more important. Even without any design changes, kids should have a positive experience using Read to Know Family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how kids can tell if a site is a valid news source or not. How can you tell whether information has come from a validated person or organization, such as a respected news outlet? What are signs that indicate a false or unvalidated outlet?

  • How can reporting on a story in a fair and impartial way affect the way you read the news -- and the way you act when you disagree with someone?

  • If you're upset when reading the news, what can you do to make a difference? Do you know the best ways to volunteer or get involved in the community?

Website details

  • Subjects: Language & Reading: discussion, forming arguments, reading, reading comprehension
  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid (Parents pay $35 for 48 weekly issues. Kids can also sign up to receive a free three-week trial.)

For kids who love news

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