Thing 20: Social Reading & Book Stuff

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photo credit: Elizabeth Thomsen via photopin cc

Lots of fun tools for readers in this lesson! Social tools to create reader communities, 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 a couple things that interest you and explore.



Good Reads is a great place to share reviews and ratings with your friends and find ideas for what to read next. Follow your friends and find out what they’re reading. Check book reviews and recommendations from the whole Good Reads 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 Good Reads 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. Add all your YA Fantasy books to one bookshelf, all your favorite mysteries to another. Then you can get recommendations based on just the titles in a particular bookshelf. Helpful for readers advisory in the library.

  • Lots of discussion groups for schools, libraries and specific classes. Search through the Discussions section for examples relevant to your work.
  • Discussions for children’s books, awards, etc. Join in!
  • Many librarians review YA and children’s books, so this is a great source for finding recommendations.
  • Create Good Reads widgets to display book recommendations on your web site.
  • 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.
  • Or if you’re using Chrome, you can add the Library Extension to accomplish this same thing. (This extension is not a Good Reads product.)

Library Thing & Tiny Cat

Library Thing has some social features similar to Good Reads, but is more focused on adding and organizing your personal collection of books. There are lots of features for organizing your books into collections and adding descriptive tags. Adding books can be done by searching or scanning bar codes. With a free account you can add up to 200 books, with an annual account ($10 year) or lifetime account ($25) you can add as much as you like.

Other features include:

Tiny Cat provides a terrific library catalog and ILS for your own collection of books. It looks like it would be perfect for anyone managing a small library collection, but lacks the funds for a full blown ILS. Add your books, circulate them, register patrons, set due dates and more. You can test it out for free with your personal collection of books. And if you want to use it for a small library collection, the monthly fees are very reasonable. (Here’s pollyalida’s test catalog)

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 what 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 and/or through 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. The Sora app was designed with students in mind. Do check it out!  And if you live in NYS, you can get a library card from the New York Public Library and access their Overdrive collection of ebooks and audiobooks.


If you buy ebooks from Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iBooks), Google (Play Books), 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 (US) and Loan Stars (Canada) Each month, librarians from across the US and Canada select the top ten books that are coming out that month. If you’re a librarian, check NetGalley or Edelweiss to see if the books you want are available ahead of publication.
  • 25 sources of free public domain books – Looking for an older title that may be out of copyright? Check these sources. Project Gutenberg is the most well known of these.
  • Open eBooks – Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from in-need households.
  • What other great sources are there for kids and YA lit? Do share!


Calibre (pronounced like “caliber”) is an ebook management system that runs on 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, though it has a bit of a clunky interface, is very useful for cataloging and organizing 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 podcast talks about Calibre and some of the add-ons that make it even more powerful.

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. New York State also has a Spanish language edition.

Ideas for Activities

More Resources to Explore


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

  • 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.
  • And more twitter book chat hashtags: ie: #bookchat #litchat #kidlit #kidlitchat #titletalk #nerdybookclub #bookday #yalove

Tools & Articles:



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.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to your Google Classroom, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.

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