Using Technology to Promote Reading

I am currently finishing my preparations for a presentation at the AIMS Technology Retreat this Monday, which will be all about using technology to promote reading (particularly YA literature).  Throughout the preparation process, I have come across so many ideas that sometimes my brain hurts, but it’s been a fun and exciting experience. Since I will be using this blog as an example, I figured why not kill two birds with one stone, put the other examples in a post, and make this the one-stop-shop for my presentation.  Enjoy!

Technology #1 – Book Trailers

Whether professionally made, created by an adult, or done by students, book trailers are a fun way to hook readers. While I’m unsure if they work for getting people to buy books, I have had success in using them with book talks to get students interested.  I especially like using them when I haven’t had time to read a new book, but I want to promote it to our students.  I’ve also played book trailers on the TV outside our dining hall, but I’m not sure they got any traction there.  Ideally, one day, I’d love to have a TV for the library where we could play book trailers and other promotional information/media. Currently, I just post a Book Trailer of the Week on our library’s home page.

The best places that I’ve found for professional book trailers are YouTube (surprise!) and Barnes&Noble. A number of publishers have YouTube channels, which can be useful for browsing

When making your own book trailers, you/your students can get as fancy or as simple as you like.  I personally like using Animoto for a quick, easy, trailer.  Currently I only have the free version, which limits videos to 30 seconds.  I may go for the plus version in the near future, which costs $5/month.  There are a number of other programs out there: PhotoStory, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker come to mind.  I know that some people like using GoAnimate as well, but I didn’t find it very useful for Book Trailers.

Of course, there are plenty of resources online for how to make a book trailer. I liked using the site Book Trailers for Readers. While it doesn’t have the clearest organization, you can find some good information and resources with a little searching.

Technology #2: Facebook

I already have a link to our library’s Facebook page on this blog.  My challenge with using Facebook as a way to promote reading is getting students to “like” the page in the first place. I even offered a contest to win an Amazon gift card for people who liked the page, and had no takers.  I haven’t totally given up, but I also haven’t figured it out yet. Suggestions?

Technology #3: Twitter

Along the same lines as Facebook, Twitter is another social media tool we have a library account for.  I use it to post updates about books I’ve read, student comments about books, news in the book world, and general goings-on in the library.  Again, getting students to follow the library on Twitter is key to having this technology work as a promotional tool.  Again, I haven’t figured that out yet (granted, I’ve only been using Twitter for the library for about a month). Suggestions?

Technology #4: Goodreads (Shelfari/LibraryThing)

This is a fun one!  We have a couple of things going on with these programs at my school.  One of our eighth grade teachers has all of his students create Goodreads accounts and become a part of his classroom group on the site.  This way, they create a kind of virtual library, where they can see each others’ books and reviews.   It’s an outstanding idea, and something I’d be interested in leveraging for the library.

I have a personal Goodreads account, through which I am friends with some of the students at our school (and am a part of the 8th grade group mentioned above).  This is the account that shows up on the blog. When I first started working in the library here, I tried to create a Goodreads group for my school, and it was a decided non-starter.

The library has a Shelfari account. I put the library’s new books onto Shelfari each time we get an order in.  What I like about Shelfari is that I can upload a batch of books at the same time, using the books’ ISBNs (and a slightly complicated process).  Also, Shelfari has a feature that allows me to easily embed a virtual shelf onto a library webpage.  Goodreads and LibraryThing probably offer a similar function now, but at the time I created the library’s Shelfari, they did not.

I also have a personal LibraryThing account, which I rarely use.  The real downside to this site is that you can only upload 200 books to your shelf for free.  If you want more than that, you have to pay.  Since I upload all the library’s new books, this obviously is a problem.

Technology #5: Read-alike Websites

I should probably use these more often when I’m figuring out books to recommend to students.  While I do read A LOT of young adult books, I tend to stick to certain genres, and probably miss some really good books for students who like to read things I don’t spend a lot of time with (Sports Fiction, high school girl drama books). These websites do just what it sounds like: you put in a title, they try to find books similar to that title.


This is my favorite of the three. It searches by book and for the ones I’ve tried, I like the recommendations.


This site only uses authors, and doesn’t tell you what books the authors have written, but it’s good for those kids who read everything by an author and want to move on to a similar writer.

What Should I Read Next?

This site isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the first one, but it does offer good recommendations.  However, I don’t think it has as many books in its database as YourNextRead.

Technology #6: QR Codes

The funny thing about QR codes is that I don’t own a smart phone or iPAD or other device that can read them!  So when I’ve created codes, I have to get other people to make sure they are working.  However, they are super easy to make, and I haven’t had any problems with them working (knock on wood). The two QR making sites that seem to be most popular are QR Stuff (the one I use) and Kaywa.

So far, I’ve used QR codes in a pretty simple way: taping them to the back covers of books, so that when a student scans the code, book trailers or websites about the book/author come up on their device.  I did a test run of this in the first quarter when I was giving book talks to our 8th grade student.  The teacher allowed his students to bring their devices, and they used them to scan the codes.  Most of them had actually never scanned a QR Code, which somewhat surprised me because they are EVERYWHERE now (magazines, posters, product packaging), so I had to tell them which apps they could download for scanning the codes. (These apps are free, and are available for multiple platforms. They are easily found if you search your app store for QR Code Reader.)

The response by the students was mixed.  Some of them thought it was cool: one kid told me I should put codes on all our books. Some of them said they’d probably still just read the inside/back of the book and look at the cover.  Fair enough.

I haven’t tried using QR codes for other purposes in the library, but there are tons of great ideas out there. This post from The Daring School Library Blog is a good place to start getting ideas (check out the links at the bottom too).

Shwew! That’s enough to start.  I’ll be making future posts on other technologies (screen savers, the library catalog, library website features, etc…)


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