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Scholastic's The Stacks
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that THE STACKS is a well-organized and well-moderated tween site created by Scholastic to promote its books and book series (like Harry Potter) created for kids ages 8-13. Tweens can come here to find out more about their favorite books and authors, practice their writing skills, chat with other readers on message boards, play games, get news about their favorite book series and upcoming releases, and watch videos. The site contains lots of ads both for related and non-related products, some of which might be difficult for tweens to identify as commercial.
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Is it any good?
THE STACKS is Scholastic's official spot online for kids ages 8-13. Scholastic's main website and catalogs have oodles of material for parents, teachers, and kids of various ages to sort through, so it's nice that The Stacks is the place just for tweens. While at The Stacks (still in beta), kids can communicate on moderated message boards with other kids about the books they love and issues that are important to them; they can play games, learn about their favorite authors and celebrities, and practice their writing skills. The video section is fairly celebrity heavy; It would be nice to see more authors, teachers, and "real kids" featured. There are also a lot of ads here, a definite downside, but overall this is an excellent site for young independent readers to be affirmed for reading, one of the healthiest habits young people can cultivate.
Online interaction: The message boards are monitored by moderators who actually respond to kids' individual posts. This helps to create a positive atmosphere where kids are heard and, therefore, tend to make more meaningful and respectful comments.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways this site advertises to kids in ways that are more subtle than traditional advertisements. Read Common Sense Media's Selling to Kids parent advice.
Ask your tween how he or she can communicate thoughts about a book on the message boards respectfully, even if they are different than those of other kids who are posting.
This site offers a great opportunity for parents to get to know more about their tweens' reading preferences. Discuss what books bring them to the site and learn more about the characters so you can enter into their reading world. Check out Common Sense Media's How to Raise a Reader.