Education

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Worldwide Book Club Could Give Libraries a Boost

September 08, 2010 07:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A new project called “One Book, One Twitter” aims to have the world read a book together and discuss it online, exciting librarians and perhaps enticing hesitant readers to pick up a book.

Reading Without Borders

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Jeff Howe, the mind behind the crowdsourcing phenomenon, has turned his attention to reading. Howe’s latest endeavor, “One Book, One Twitter,” is a book club for everyone, powered by the Internet. Participants are invited to tweet their thoughts on the yet-to-be-determined title, a concept that has librarians excited, according to Lauren Barack of School Library Journal.

Maija McLaughlin, the director of Digital Initiatives at Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, N.Y., told Barack the project is “great because it’s going to reach people we don’t normally reach,” and that the library could see an influx of new visitors wanting to participate. Another librarian, Jody Wurl of Hennepin County Library in Minneapolis, Minn., tells Barack she’s excited “to see all of social media being used to promote books and reading.”

Crowdsourcing has been used in other educational formats. At Duke University, students in professor Cathy Davidson's "This is Your Brain on the Internet" course put collaborative learning methods and peer review to the test. The project could significantly change the way teachers, students and parents approach learning.

Background: Motivating students to read

There’s no doubt that reading is crucial to students’ development. The Oxford Learning Web site takes a closer look at the benefits of reading. “Reading a book is like a debriefing for media-saturated children. It helps them be able to focus on a single thing at a time.” Furthermore, reading “teaches children how to empathize with others.”

There are many different takes on how to instill a love of reading in children. Family involvement, allowing kids to choose their own books and specific tips for encouraging boys to read are some ideas for parents to consider. Although the reading curriculum in the U.S. has been criticized for emphasizing a standard list of classics, and for catering too heavily to female readers, there are practical solutions.

For additional tips on motivating boys to read, consider the insights provided by blogger Kristen Bevilacqua on the Web site Getting Boys To Read. “Most boys read when they are young, in the primary grades. For various reasons they lose the interest in reading as they get older,” Bevilacqua writes. Whether they’re too busy with sports and socializing, tired of reading about “girly topics,” or fear being labeled as a “nerd,” boys can be turned on to reading again.

Related Topic: Online book clubs

Joining a book club can be a great way to motivate yourself to read, whether you've been wanting to pick up a classic or looking for a new author to fall for.

DearReader.com lets you choose a book club to join by genre or from a sponsored publisher. It sends you a few free e-mails with sections of a book from whatever club you've selected. If you like the book and want to keep reading it, the site gives you the location of your local library branch and locates the book for you.

Engage with other book-minded folk by joining Shelfari, a social networking site for book lovers. Build a virtual bookshelf, find other users who like the same books and get recommendations for new reading material based on your tastes.

ReadWriteThink presents a fun after-school activity on starting your own book club in grades 3-5. The program includes links to online activities, ideas for other projects that enhance reading, book lists to help your club decide on a title and tips for helping kids ensure that the club runs smoothly.
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