Mar 15, 2018

Modern free alternative to Cliffs Notes

When I was in high school and junior high (Yes, I went to junior high and not a middle school) like just about every kid, I had to read lots of classic novels for language arts class. Well, let's be honest, I was assigned the task of reading the book, but I never did.

No, like quite a lot of kids at the time we would get our hands on Cliffs Notes, usually from the book store in the mall, and do all of our related assignments based off of the summaries from Cliffs Notes. Most of the time, it had all the answers we needed, without having to waste our time reading boring books. Is that cheating? Maybe, but I certainly didn't care.

Well the other day my daughter was given a reading assignment for a book called Hush, but the trouble was that her teacher wouldn't let her bring the book home. Because of this, she was falling behind in class. Well, in doing a little research, I found what is basically a free alternative to Cliffs Notes to help her with her assignment!

It's a site called Schmoop! Via their about page:
Since 2009, Shmoop has been a digital publishing company with a point of view. Our teaching method revolves around the basic idea that learning is often too hard—so we carry gallons of academic WD-40 to squirt on the tracks whenever we can. And as an added bonus, we're funny. At least we like to think so. 
We own 100% of our content and present both a consistent voice and a distinctive product offering. Our free Learning Guides, Online Courses, College Readiness Prep, and Test Prep balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help students understand why they should care. 
We also give students an honest look into life after high school. Our Careers page is written by real, studly Oil Rig Drillers, Delta Force Captains, and Marine Biologists, while our College 101 section tells students what college might actually look, feel, and smell like. Thousands of schools around the world use Shmoop as part of their curriculum, and the company has also been honored by the Interwebs: twice by the Webby Awards and twice by Scholastic Administrator Magazine ("Best in Tech"). 
By way of further Shmoopy introduction, check out our "What Is Shmoop" video (part of our fast-growing Shmoopsterpiece Theater video project) or read about us in the press!
Anyway, not only did I find summaries for my daughter's book Hush, I also searched their site and found summaries for some of the books I was supposed to read as a kid too! Books like The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Some might get on my case for not making my daughter read the book. I would have if the teacher let her bring it home, but since the teacher wouldn't, but still wanted the assignment done, I felt like this was acceptable. Besides, I'd rather encourage her to read things she's actually interested in anyway.

What do you think of this site? Would it have helped you our in high school, or junior high? Let us know in the comments!

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