I am always looking for ways to be involved with my children’s education. Reading books is an essential aspect of learning at any age. When I was first introduced to the Accelerated Reader (AR) program a few years ago, I wasn’t keen on its effectiveness. At least, not until recently when my ten-year-old son got hooked on the gamification aspects of the AR program.
If you haven’t heard of it already, the Accelerated Reader (AR) program is a computerized education tool for K-12 schools. It allows the school to encourage students to set their own reading goals that can be tracked and measured by computerized testing of their reading comprehension.
So when my son, Ethan, reads fiction or non-fiction, he can go to his school computer and take a comprehension test. If he scores high enough, he can get the total AR points associated with that book.
For example, when Ethan read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Rowling, J.K. while in the 4th grade, he scored 14 points. Every student gets to set an AR points goal for every trimester of the school year, and they can track it through the school computer. Students who love to read books often tend to set high AR goals for themselves.
When they achieve their AR goals in time, the whole class may be rewarded. These rewards may range from extra free time, pizza parties, or other celebratory activities arranged by the teacher or school’s parent-teacher association or clubs.
This gamification aspect of the AR system became very interesting outside of school as my son started to track his reading. Often he would ask me how many AR points a particular book was worth and if a book was of a specific reading level that matched his reading capabilities.
Helping my children with AR points, reading levels of books required that I research various websites, and many online PDF files. I wanted to streamline this process as I had two readers of different ages and reading capabilities.
Also, as an avid reader of books myself and a big fan of the COSTCO warehouse, I often swing by the discount book section in the warehouse. Usually, I need to check reading levels, and AR points associated with a book at the store. Searching various poorly designed web sites that have AR information is not that pleasant!
So I decided to create an app called BookJar to solve my need to build AR goal-based book lists for my kids. Being a software company owner, I had our in-house engineering team develop the initial version very quickly for both iPhone and Android platforms.
Book Jar is a FREE app for the parents of K-12 children. A parent can create an Accelerated Reader (AR) goal-based booklist for their K-12 children and track progress as they finish reading the books.
The app offers simplistic book recommendations based on desired AR goal and reading level restrictions. As this is the initial version, we didn’t bother with many features, including machine-learning-based suggestions that we may consider in the future.
You can also build your list by searching for specific titles. Here is a video showing how it works.
BookJar is a very simple app at this initial stage. We will update it as we explore it further and based on feedback from other parents. If you are a parent of a K-12 child that wants to track their AR goals independently, consider using this FREE app!
PS: If you click the “VIEW ON AMAZON” button for any book, the app launches the AMAZON SMILE site for the book. If you have Amazon Smile set up with your kid’s school as the charity, the school will get some financial rewards every time you buy a book. No sneaky affiliate link from us! Just whatever you have set up with Amazon Smile will work as-is! Cheers and good luck with the new school year!