Innovation: Education

Social reading tools for summer reading

Audrey’s 2016 summer reading list

Tarrant Institute tool tutoriallsI’ve been thinking a lot lately about where technology fits into reading. Not just the e-book vs print book discussion (spoiler: both choices are valid for any individual) but also how tech tools and platforms can bring readers together to talk about books. And I’m doing that by reading a lot and trying things.

So my summer reading list comes with a tool kit.

GoodReads

social reading toolsGoodReads has long been an online bastion of good sense and great book recommendations, and a number of folks use it to run their book clubs and group reads. GoodReads in fact has a Groups section specifically for this purpose, but I recommend joining one that has pretty strict guidelines around author participation, to keep the sales pitches to a minimum.

That said, I’ve found a lot of great book recommendations on the rest of GoodReads, and it’s also been a really powerful platform for keeping track of what I’ve read and how often. You can post status updates and either like or comment on your friends’ updates, and the reader reviews tend to be nicely critical (with an emphasis on the nice, fortunately). Also The Reading Challenge function makes it easy to set a goal for how many books to read for the year, and know if you’re staying on track.

GoodReads also lets you automatically generate widgets you can embed on websites such as this fine joint. Or student PLP portfolios, for example.

Pinterest

This summer, I’m reading all of Jackie Collins’ Lucky Santangelo novels. All of them.

Don’t judge me, monkey.

My cousin Bonnie lives in Oregon and we don’t get to see each other that much, so we’re using Pinterest to read together online.

The way it works is this: we set up a Pinterest board (you can have multiple contributors to each board), then pin the cover of each book we read. Each of those pins houses the comment thread for that book.

It’s working really well as a space to hold a conversation or just post quotes we like from each book. A really great and easy way to connect up with your “reading bestie”.

Litsy

Litsy is a brand-new free iOS app modeled on instagram: readers post photos (or cute quote memes) from their reading lives and other readers like or comment on them. I haven’t used this extensively yet, but I could see this instagram model working as an online space for a virtual book club that liked to keep things super casual and low maintenance.

social reading tools

Yes, that is my dog, and yes, that is Bree Loewen’s Pickets and Dead Men: Seasons on Rainier. I can’t recommend her book highly enough if you like park ranger stories even a little.

Finally, our trusty old friend: twitter

The Reverend Richard Coles was once half of the 80s pop group The Communards, who were notable mainly for having the earwormiest cover song in creation:

After all that ended, Coles became a Church of England vicar who raises daschunds and offers fish paste sandwiches to the faithful in a small town in Northamptonshire. I’m currently reading his autobiography after following him on twitter (@RevRichardColes), because daschund puppy photos are what the internet was invented for. Coles is among many authors you can find and talk to on twitter, although here at the Tarrant Institute, we’re about to use the tool in a new way entirely…

social reading tools

BOOM.

If school change is your bag, jump online at the usual #vted chat timeslot, Thursdays at 8pm, July 14 – August 18 for our first annual twitter readalong.

Have you found any particular online platform works well for social reading?

Hit me up in the comments.

Author

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs.

Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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