Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Goodreads Playground

I mentioned in a post last month that some of the Columbus Dispatch Kid Readers (with the help/supervision/blessing of their parents) have joined Goodreads.

Let's back up a minute and just talk about the ways we adults keep track of what we've read. My mom has a little notebook where she writes down titles and authors. She's a voracious mystery series reader, and she needs to keep track of which books in which series she's already read. My friend Lisa is the keeper of our book club's history of reading. She's got a list that goes all the way back to our club's first book together, Lucy Calkins' THE ART OF TEACHING WRITING, which we read when it was new. I was inspired by a fellow writer for the (now defunct) OSU publication THE W.E.B. to read a children's book a week (or if not a book every week, then at least 52 children's books a year). That was back in the mid-1980's. I have a whole shelf full of notebooks listing all of the books I read for about 25 years. Then, in 2007, Goodreads came on the scene. For a few years, I kept both my notebook and my Goodreads listing, but my reading record is now completely digital.

Okay. So we keep track of what we read.

But what if we'd been doing that since we were 10 or 11 years old?

It's been amazing to watch these kids explore and play on Goodreads. First they entered just the book they were currently reading. But that soon expanded. One girl keeps a list of her 5th grade reads in her Take Home folder as well as in her Language Arts binder; she entered all 50+ books she's read this year. After that, I saw other lists expand all the way back to favorites from their early reading years. They've started creating bookshelves -- learning the power of tagging -- and they're marking books as "To Read" -- planning ahead for future reading.

I heard from a parent that sending messages is a popular facet of Goodreads -- the account was created through the mom's email, and her daughter is now getting more emails than she is -- many with the sole content being, "Hi!"

That might be a somewhat trivial part of the way the students are using Goodreads, but they are also following authors' reviews, becoming fans of authors, collecting quotes, setting reading goals, and creating book quizes. Not just taking quizes, creating them and inviting the other Columbus Dispatch Readers to take them!

Up until now, Goodreads has simply been a place for me to log the books I've read. These kid-readers have explored it like a playground, finding every interesting nook and cranny and trying it all out for themselves. I can't wait to watch their reading habits change and evolve as they move through middle school, high school, and beyond. (We'll just assume for the sake of argument that there will still be both an Internet and a site called Goodreads that will last that long as well...)

Columbus Dispatch Kid Readers blog is here.


  1. Mary Lee, I loved the W.E.B. I have some in my files. Thanks for sharing an early reading goal of 52a children's books. In going back to K, I've struggled with seeing picture books as any lofty reading goal and I miss transitional reading. Maybe picture books can be a reading goal. I'm also wondering if any of my girls would like goodreads.

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  3. Isn't it funny how readers must chronicle their adventures? I remember delighting in keeping my summer reading list of dozens of books, and proudly turning it into the librarian (who was only expecting me to have met the less-than-ten book minimum). She would quiz me, not believing that I actually had read my whole list. I wish that I had saved those lists! Perhaps they are tucked away somewhere in my parent's house, but I doubt it. I completely agree that goodreads will be an amazing tool for young readers today - imagine having a digital database of every book you have ever read!? This is actually why I recently started blogging about the books that I read aloud with my toddler. I figure that if nothing else, it will be a wonderful memoir of sorts for her later self. Feel free to check it out at

    I would love your input!


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