Shelfari

Common Sense Media says

Cozy social book nook, but use privacy settings.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Kids will feel honored that a website would trust them to edit information available to the general public. Shelfari also instills a love and respect for books.

Violence

Dark fantasy, horror, and some comic/manga groups may contain violent or upsetting imagery, but people talk about violence on Shelfari mostly in a literary context, e.g., a discussion group about the ultra-violent novel Battle Royale and whether it promotes violence or not.

Sex

Under the group heading "Sexuality," which contains 560 groups, kids can find some pretty explicit content. Groups like "Wet and Wild" and "Virgin Slaves" don't even discuss any books, but are simply a jumping off point for fantasy sharing. Also, each of these groups is accompanied by a photo, some of which are highly suggestive (no nudity, but very close). On the other hand, some of these groups could prove helpful to exploring teens, like "Gay/Straight Alliances," a place for GLBT and straight people to talk about books in a safe environment.

Language

There are no filters for profanity. Because the site is user-edited, kids may come across some content that's been added for shock value or that has nothing to do with the site. Bored teens have created groups like "Justin Bieber Sucks ass!" and filled them with personal chats that sometimes include profanity like "bitch" and f--k."

Consumerism

All Shelfari pages contain links to Amazon, where users can purchase books, as well as a link to Amazon's Kindle at the bottom of each page. Unlike other book review sites, Shelfari doesn't have sidebar ads, which is nice.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are few references to drugs on Shelfari. Most of the drug-related content is anti-drug, but there are a few groups dedicated to the discussion of medical marijuana.

Privacy & safety

Shelfari is for users over the age of 13 and requires a name and email to register. Default settings are public, so teens will need to adjust privacy settings if they don't want to share all of their Shelfari activity with the world. Teens can make books in their library "private," but their profiles remain public. The default profile includes only a screen name. Teens have the option of adding a profile pic and can decide whether others are able write public notes on their profiles. They can also adjust a setting to require confirmation for friend requests. Teens can connect Shelfari to their Facebook accounts in order to share books and follow friends.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Shelfari is an online gathering place for readers and book lovers to share information about books. Part social network, part crowdsourced encyclopedia, Shelfari's main focus is on reviews, but it also lets users add and share additional information about their favorite books. It's recommended for kids over 13, who should be able to handle the social aspect of sharing opinions and creating appropriate content. Default privacy settings for Shelfari profiles are public, so teens who don't want to share all their activity with the world will need to make adjustments.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • text analysis
  • discussion
  • forming arguments
  • reading

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • making conclusions
  • thinking critically
  • applying information

Self-Direction

  • goal-setting
  • work to achieve goals
  • achieving goals

Communication

  • friendship building
  • conveying messages effectively

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • honoring the community
  • respect for others

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

 

Kids will love the freedom of being able to edit content, getting to fill in the blanks of pre-created sections like "Themes and Symbolism" to "First Sentence." They'll feel like an important part of the process.

Learning Approach

 

Kids collaborate with other users to make up the content available on Shelfari; they review what previous writers have written and decide if any changes should be made.

Support

Shelfari is very easy to use, with simple instruction on how to set up an account and maximize the site's offerings. There isn't a huge amount of guidance available, but it doesn't seem necessary as the site is very intuitive.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • text analysis
  • discussion
  • forming arguments
  • reading

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • making conclusions
  • thinking critically
  • applying information

Self-Direction

  • goal-setting
  • work to achieve goals
  • achieving goals

Communication

  • friendship building
  • conveying messages effectively

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • honoring the community
  • respect for others

Kids can learn to talk about books in a casual way, setting them up for more serious analysis later on in their educational paths. Shelfari will help kids think critically, make decisions, and really reflect on what they loved or hated about a book. They'll learn that literature is capable of bringing people together, and how to find their place in a community of like-minded readers. While not as comprehensive as some of its competitors, Shelfari is a comfortable place for teens to share and make connections with the books they love.

This Learning Rating review was written by Polly Conway

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What's it about?

Shelfari is a website for book lovers that allows users to create a virtual bookshelf, write reviews, and participate in discussion groups. In partnership with retail giant Amazon, Shelfari's mission is \"to enhance the experience of reading by connecting readers in meaningful conversations about the published word.\" Kids can read the entire first chapter of any book featured on Shelfari for free, using Kindle For the Web. It's also a little like Wikipedia in that any user can edit public content about book background, characters, and plot.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Shelfari is a smaller, more intimate community than the sometimes-overwhelming Goodreads. The ads are subtle and unobtrusive, and while the design isn't that exciting, it's simple and easy to navigate around the site. Shelfari also has some neat little touches that set it apart from the rest; for example, while reading the reviews of The Three Musketeers, you can click the "Hide all spoilers" box to make sure there are no ruined endings in your future. The free first chapter is a huge bonus for kids who may be on the fence about buying a book.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about appropriate online behavior, respecting opinions, and keeping conflicts to a minimum. How can you disagree with someone in a respectful way? How should you respond if someone makes a mean comment about you online? Check out our Social Networking Tips for ideas.

  • Families can also talk about favorite books. Why is your favorite book your favorite? Is it the characters, plot, and setting that you like best? What rating would you give it? 

Website details

Genre:Social Networking
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Shelfari was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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