Social reading supports many of the skills that the new literacies embody: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and online reading comprehension (among others). There are a growing number of social reading tools out there, and every librarian could use a few of those tools in his or her technology belt.
Here are 6 of my favorites:
Biblionasium Biblionasium is a social reading tool built for kids. It was named a 2013 AASL Best WebSite for Teaching and Learning. This one is so good that I recommended it to my daughter’s fifth grade teacher. It could easily replace the giant stack of reading logs that currently takes up a whole corner of her classroom. And it would save her time in monitoring those reading logs. With Biblionasium, teachers can set up an account for the classroom, and have their students keep reading logs, write reviews, start reading challenges and even earn digital badges for various milestones. Lexile scores are built into the system, and Biblionasium will even make reading suggestions based on Lexile level and previously read books. Teachers and parents can make reading suggestions too. Public libraries can also take advantage of Biblionasium for reading programs throughout the year. Hands down, this is my number one pick as a social reading tool for the younger crowd.
Booklikes Booklikes is a social reading tool in blog-like format. It provides readers with the opportunity to write lengthy reviews of books within a circle of friends. It is simple to use, and would be especially appropriate for high school and college level students in courses that require in-depth analysis of literature. It’s also a good tool for library book groups that are genre specific (i.e. mystery readers who want to review and share their latest finds).
eMargin eMargin is a collaborative annotation tool. College students can work together to annotate their course readings, which will lead to better understanding and deeper learning of the materials. And with the Common Core’s increased requirements for informational texts, high school students can begin developing their collaborative learning skills as well.
GoodReads There’s a good chance you’re already on GoodReads, and that popularity is what makes it an easy transition for supporting social reading. The apps make it flexible. The widgets make it great for reader’s advisory. However, it’s not my first choice for classroom use. There’s so much going on with GoodReads that I think it may be overwhelming for some learners. A tool like Booklikes is more pared down (cleaner so to speak), and presents less of a chance for cognitive overload.
Highlighter Highlighter is a collaborative annotation tool that is more powerful than eMargin. It supports PDF, Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and allows you to not only create, but also manage groups and classes. Plus, you can integrate Highlighter with your web site, blog or LMS by adding code to the site’s footer. Educators also have the option to publish and sell their books and documents through Highlighter.
Riffle Riffle is the Pinterest of social reading tools. Teachers and students can add questions and notes for each book. And for libraries that are thinking about using Pinterest purely to promote books and recommend readings, you might want to look at Riffle instead.