Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Starfall Website Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Outstanding learn-to-read site sure to engage little ones.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 43 reviews

Kids say

age 3+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about letter recognition, phonics, and reading. Skill acquisition is appropriately gradual; kids begin simply by sounding out different combinations of letters. Exercises will help expand their vocabularies, and short selections offer reading practice once they've completed the previous levels of instruction. But parents should know that the site would benefit from more exercises that test the knowledge kids have learned. Starfall does an excellent job of offering clear and intriguing early literacy lessons.

Positive Messages

Kids will get positive messages about reading through names of sections on site (such as It's Fun to Read and I'm Reading).

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

There's an online store, which sells supplementary materials, but site doesn't have any ads. Users can opt for a paid membership for extra content.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Starfall reading basics site is free to use, but a paid membership with additional content is also available. Educational materials are also sold in an online store.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byJaime P. January 29, 2017

Awesome webiste for 4-year-old reader!

My 4-year-old asked for a website she could play on like her big sister, who is 8, so I looked through Common Sense Media's suggestions and tried Starfall.... Continue reading
Adult Written byisabel.izquierdof September 29, 2019
Teen, 14 years old Written byTheAlmightyCastform December 21, 2017

This site taught me how to read!

When I was two to three, my parents gave me this website to sit down in front of. I forget the content of this website, but I do remember that it taught me how... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byEllie S April 11, 2021

Starfall is the Best

very educational and well done, its a bit dated, but as effective as ever. I had so much fun on the website, I didn't even realize I was learning. I do rem... Continue reading

What's it about?

STARFALL, launched in 2002, offers activities for kids in preschool through second grade and kids focusing on English language development, special education instruction, and homeschooling. They progress through four sections: letter recognition, games, stories, and animations that showcase letter sounds, short reading selections that emphasize vocabulary, and online books that provide fluency and comprehension practice. The free phonics-based site also offers a few math exercises. A $35 annual membership provides additional activities.

Is it any good?

This phonics-based site offers a fantastic (and free) learn-to-read method based on numerous studies and educational research. Kids practice letter sounds, word recognition, and reading comprehension through online books, songs, rhymes, and other games. When they read a storybook online, Starfall reads it back to them, sounding it out like new readers do. The site also offers numerous resources for parents and teachers and a paid version geared toward use at home or school. A separate site,, used to offer premium content for a price. The sister site is no longer active; users can now pay a $35 annual fee for additional math and reading activities on Starfall. But they can access plenty of free materials to make the site worthwhile without a subscription.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen limits for Starfall. How is this website geared toward little kids just learning to use the computer?

  • How do you get your kids to read? Are there ways to keep them reading once they're started? Check out Common Sense Media's expert article on How to Get Your Kids Reading.

  • Ask your child to point out examples of words that begin with letters shown on the site.

Website details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reading

Themes & Topics

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