A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
The site not only promotes summer reading, but also encourages kids to work together to set a world record for most hours read by a group. The summer reading program centers around a system where time spent reading equates to money donated to the Save the Children U.S. program.
Violence & Scariness
Very little violence, however during the quiz to choose which summer reading team a user will be on, a question asks what type of "heist" you would commit and one of the answers is, in effect, "I would tell you but I would have to kill you afterward."
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Products & Purchases
This site is part of Scholastic's larger "Stacks" Web site, which is a tween interactive reading community. There are promos all over the site for Scholastic books and a click of an ad will take you to Scholastic's online store. Additionally, users can earn "points" for reading, which can then be redeemed via the Web site SmartyCard for both real and virtual prizes.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this site has a very noble goal to inspire kids to read more over the summer, there is still a lot of commercial footnotes to this story. The site is run by Scholastic, which uses the program to promote its books and authors, and there are even convenient links to purchase titles. The program is partnered with SmartyCard to offer prize incentives to kids. SmartyCard is a pay site where parents purchase the rewards that are awarded to kids for playing education games on the site.
Is It Any Good?
The most useful aspect of the Summer Challenge is that it provides a simple, effortless way for kids, and parents for that matter, to keep track of summer reading time. Although the community forums and literary games might capture the imagination of avid readers, they also distract from the actual purpose of the program, which is to read more. The commercial tie-ins are numerous, so it's good to be wary, but overall this site takes safety precautions and offers kids multiple incentives to make this summer a literary one.
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