By John Burton
RUMSON – Parents would undoubtedly be pleased to find out their children have developed a love of reading. But how do they keep tabs on what books are appropriate for their age group and continue to encourage a love of books?
Rumson mom Courtney Setteducate thinks she has the answer.
Setteducate, along with the help of her children, 13-year-old twins, Kate and Alexa, and Will, 9, have established the website called KidsBookNook.org, and have an accompanying Facebook page, intended to do just that.
“We hope parents will eventually feel comfortable telling their children to go to the website and select a book for your age group,” Setteducate said.
The idea developed after her girls were interested in reading “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins, which, along with the movies, have been incredibly popular with teens.
Setteducate had read the first installment with her book group and thought her daughters were a little young for the subject matter and violence, even though a teacher and a librarian both suggested the books.
“I just wasn’t ready for my 9-year-olds to be reading the same, mature subject as I was,” she said.
Her kids are readers, they said, devouring books at a rapid rate. “They zipped through the Harry Potter books,” Setteducate said of the girls when they were in fourth grade, and were then looking for other, maybe somewhat similar books.
“I like adventure books,” Kate said, shyly, offering her recommendation of “The Lost Hero,” by Rick Riordan.
Alexa likes “more realistic ones.” Will agrees with Alexa about genre, but parted ways with his sisters when it comes to e-readers, like the Kindle, preferring “real books.”
When her children were younger, Setteducate would regularly read to them, usually a chapter a night. They would become so enraptured with the story, they would coax her to continue – as long as the chapter wasn’t too long.
With her children so enamored with reading, Setteducate began to feel put upon trying to keep up on what her kids wanted to read while determining what was appropriate for their age. She figured if that was bothering her, it had to be the same for other parents.
That led her – with the input of Alexa, Kate and Will – to work with Jeff Gonzalez and his web design firm, One80 in Shrewsbury, to establish the site.
“We went to meetings with the web designer and told him what we wanted,” Alexa said.
Setteducate conferred with teachers, parents and their children to find what would work for them for their book choices.
KidsBookNook has book selections listed by grade from the grade 3 to grade 12 plus categories with all the book titles, popular series and an offering of “Best Book in the Nook.”
The site has a feature for “Your Recommendations” where parents and children can offer their take on what books they like and why.
“We tried to make it user-friendly,” Setteducate said, noting that even though she is a self-described “computer illiterate,” she can easily navigate it.
“So far it’s mostly friends” who have been logging on and offering selections and opinions, but Setteducate hopes to expand the site to include more books and opinions, which will benefit everyone who goes to there looking for recommendations.
The next step will be to collect donations and find the right charity to be the recipient, she said. “That’s going to be the girls’ summer project,” Setteducate said.
That and maybe getting caught up on some of their non-school reading, too.