Students Share Love of Books on Shelfari
T hroughout the day at Van Meter School, I lis- ten to our students and teachers talk about the books they are reading. I hear them share favorite
characters, compare books to others they have read, and
suggest new titles to friends and colleagues. Within the
walls of the library and classrooms, our students have
developed communities where they can talk books. But
what about outside of these walls?
A variety of social networking tools are available to extend
students’ love of reading and books. These technology tools
enhance learning and make it easy for students to collaborate with peers and global audiences. My favorite is Shelfari, a free social network where users can create a virtual
bookshelf to show what they have read, see what friends are
reading, and, in doing so, discover books they want to read
through collaboration with others in their network.
Several characteristics make Shelfari stand out from
similar tools. Shelfari members can add “friends” to their
network and create or join “groups” that interest them.
They can rate and review books on their shelves and
share them with their friends. Students can personalize
their shelves by designing beautiful covers and labeling
them with “Read it,” “Plans to read,” or “Is reading now.”
Members can even show off their shelves with a Shelfari
widget on a blog or website.
Shelfari is an excellent tool for the classroom because
it allows students to share their passion for their favorite
books and authors, which not only helps them develop
a love of reading but also builds communication skills.
Teachers can create groups for particular classes or
specific lessons and use them as an online book club.
One of my favorite uses of Shelfari occurred when I
teamed up with secondary English teacher Shawn Hyer
from my Iowa school and Nick Provenzano, an English
teacher from Grosse Point South High School in Detroit, 500 miles away. Together we created the #VMGPS
Shelfari Group to give our students a chance to connect,
share, and become part of a very special virtual space.
Although the students live hundreds of miles apart,
they have created meaningful relationships using this safe
social network to share their love of reading with others.
—Shannon McClintock Miller is the district teacher librarian
and technology specialist at Van Meter School in Van Meter, Iowa.
Follow her on Twitter @shannonmiller and read her blog at http://