Thing 19: Social Reading & Book Stuff


photo credit: Elizabeth Thomsen via photopin cc

Lots of fun tools for readers in this Thing! Social tools to share books and reviews, tools to organize your personal ebook collections, apps for reading and more. So let’s dig in. Remember, you don’t need to explore all the tools here. Pick something that interests you and explore. Or taste test a few different tools.



GoodReads is a great place to share reviews and ratings with your friends and look for ideas for what to read next. Follow your friends, find out what they’re reading, check book reviews and recommendations from the whole GoodReads community. Create lists of books, organize what you’ve read into personalized virtual bookshelves, join discussion groups, create a discussion group for your library or a club. Connect with authors, book giveaways, join reading challenges. Create widgets with book suggestions to place on your website.

I often check GoodReads before I buy or borrow a book, I know which friends have similar interests and trust their recommendations. And I love the recommendations feature. It makes suggestions based on the bookshelves you’ve created to organize your books. I can get recommendations based on everything I’ve read or just on the titles I’ve put on my Mysteries bookshelf. I also set up a bookshelf called GetRecs – I put things in there when I want to get new recommendations based a particular selection of titles. LibraryThing is a similar service with similar features.

  • Lots of discussion groups for schools, libraries and specific classes. Search through the Discussions section for examples relevant to your work.
  • Discussions for childrens books, awards, etc. Join in!
  • Many librarians review YA and childrens books, so this is a great source for finding recommendations.
  • Create GoodReads widgets to display book recommendations on your web site. LibraryThing offers more flexibility in this area. Example of a LibraryThing widget – shows random selection of YA books.
  • You can also customize the “get a copy” section on your own account with links to your local libraries. If your library isn’t already listed, you can add it. Once your library catalog connection is made, other GoodReads members can add it to their own settings.

Vendor eBooks

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention access to all the great ebooks and audiobooks that may be available through your school, School Library Systems and public libraries. Since we have over a dozen School Library System regions participating, I won’t try to list all the vendors that you may have access to. But do make sure you know whay is available to you, you’re missing out on great content if you don’t.

OverDrive – Many of you have access to OverDrive in your school. If you don’t, check your local public library. You can access OverDrive via the web, but the simplest way to get ebooks and audiobooks onto mobile devices is through their apps. If you haven’t checked in a while, the apps have become much easier to install than they used to be. But they do still require some initial set up with library card numbers and an Adobe ID. OverDrive has done some terrific videos to show how to get started with a variety of devices. I hadn’t added the app to my new phone yet, so this was a great opportunity for me to work through this and I was pleased at how smoothly it went (other than forgetting my Adobe ID of course).


If you buy ebooks from Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iBooks), Google (Play Books), Barnes & Noble (Nook), etc. you’ll find yourself installing the custom apps for those stores. No doubt your students & staff are using these apps too. It’s good to be familiar with how they work, even if you don’t use them all yourself. Check your app store to see what is available.

Bargain eBooks, eARCS, etc.

These are sources for feeding your ebook habit.

  • There are tons of services that will alert you to bargain priced ebooks. Riffle, BookBub, BookGorilla and Freebooksy are just a few. Sign up and receive regular emails somewhat customized to your interests.
  • And then there’s NetGalley and Edelweiss for advance reader copies of ebooks. Sign up, select books you’d like to read and you’ll likely be approved to receive some of them. Both services encourage you to leave feedback in the form of ratings or reviews.
  • LibraryReads – Each month, librarians from across the country select the top ten books that are coming out that month. I like to check this page, then head to NetGalley to see what’s available.
  • What other great sources are there for kids and YA lit? Do share!


Calibre (pronounced like “caliber”) is an ebook managment system that runs on a PC, Mac & Linux. I’m including this for all of you who have begun hoarding ebooks from a variety of sources and are forgetting where you tucked them away on your computer. (looks at self!) Calibre helps you catalog and organize your ebook collection. And for DRM-free titles, you’ll be able to convert them to a variety of formats. It can also be used to create ebooks. This episode of the CyberPunk Librarian podcast talks about Calibre and some of the add-ons that make it even more powerful.

We Give Books

We Give Books provides free online access to storybooks for ages 0 to 10. Easy to sort by age and interests. The more you read, the more books are donated to those in need. Includes resources for educators.

International Childrens Digital Library

ICDL is a wonderful source for online storybooks and chapter books from around the world, in many different languages. Their goal is to “build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world. Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children’s literature from the world community.”

DayByDay Family Literacy Calendar

South Carolina, Virginia, Idaho and New York all have Family Literacy Calendars that provide a daily dose of fun storytime and wordplay activities for younger children.

More Ideas & Resources:


What is Social Reading? There are lots of definitions around and they tend to focus on online interactions. I’d go with a broad context and include any social interactions around reading. Some of the things included are:

  • Sharing recommendations and reviews and having conversations around those things.
  • Being able to highlight passages and notes and then share them with others, whether individually, through social media or through other services that link you to other readers of that same book.
  • Tools to bring your commentary and that of others, right into the virtual margins of a text.
  • These kinds of tools could be used for classroom discussion, book groups, study groups.
  • Look for twitter book chat hashtags: ie: #bookchat #litchat #kidlit #kidlitchat #titletalk #nerdybookclub #bookday #yalove

Some readings on the topic:


SubText “Turn any book or document into a digital classroom” “Subtext is a free iPad app that allows classroom groups to exchange ideas in the pages of digital texts. You can also layer in enrichment materials, assignments and quizzes—opening up almost limitless opportunities to engage students and foster analysis and writing skills.”

It’s aimed at high school level and above, but they’re finding it being used successfully with younger grades too. You can select from free, public domain books, upload documents, share content from the web and purchase ebooks. Feautures include commenting, polls, questions and a variety of education oriented options. This would also be a great way to read a book along with a friend, or use it as a way to extend a teen or adult book club into the online realm.

  • These videos explain it in more detail: Welcome to Subtext and this video from YALSA
  • Other options in this area are Copia, which has an edu version that has a number of classroom manangement features and Inkling.
  • There’s a test group for the CoolTools workshop. If you joing SubText, use this code to join the group: JIPQGOPX


Medium was founded by Ev Williams, of twitter fame. Where twitter is short, medium is long-form. (more on Williams and Medium from a NYTimes article) Medium offers original content written by members and allows paragraph by paragraph commenting on articles. Since anyone can now join, it also offers an opportunity to write and share those writings with a worldwide audience. What a great way for older students to have a real audience. This post explains how the commenting feature works. It does require sign in with a twitter account to leave notes, but you can read articles and notes without an account.


Remember, you don’t have to explore everything on this page, there’s a lot here to make sure everyone finds something new and interesting to do.

Your assignment is simple:

  • Pick an aspect of this topic and explore it in some depth. Dig deep in the options of one tool or service. Or do a quicker testing out of several tools if you prefer.
  • If there are other related services/tools that we haven’t been mentioned, feel free to explore them instead. As long as they’re related to this topic.
  • Consider how you can use these tools personally, professionally and in your school setting.
  • Write a blog post about your experience.

LOG YOUR LESSON: Don’t forget to log your blog post when you’re done!  When you finish this lesson by fill out the log form. You’ll need the URL of your first blog post to complete the form.


4 thoughts on “Thing 19: Social Reading & Book Stuff

  1. If you are a resident of New York State you may obtain a New York City library card which allows you to access their overdrive account. They have different titles and so it is another free source of ebooks to check out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s