Thing 37: Social Reading & Book Stuff


photo credit: Elizabeth Thomsen via photopin cc

Lots of fun tools for readers in this lesson! 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 a couple things that interest you and explore.



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 and 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. Get recommendations based on everything you’ve read or just on the titles in a particular bookshelf.

  • 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.
  • 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 GoodReads product,)

LibraryThing & TinyCat

LibraryThing has some social features similar to GoodReads, 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:

TinyCat 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. 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.


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.
  • Open eBooks – Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from in-need households.
  • 25 sources of free public domain books

  • 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 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.

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

Tools & Articles:

  • – Set up a free account and then leave comments on any web page. Other users can see public comments. Or set up a private group to share a discussion with a limited group of people. It’s actually quite easy to use, even though it sounds a bit complicated.
  • Kindle Notes & Highlights – If you’re reading an ebook on a Kindle or Kindle app, you can highlight passages and take notes. You can also see other users’ public highlights & notes. To make your notes public for others to read, visit your Kindle Your Books page. There’s a checkbox to make notes public.  Overview of these options.


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 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.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL for the post.
  • Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
  • Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.



3 thoughts on “Thing 37: 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.

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