Using Technology to Increase Voluntary Free Reading

Learn about technology-related activities and tools that will lead to more students reading more books - and about the research that shows FVR increases test scores. Understanding the "power of reading" - the research that demonstrates that Free Voluntary Reading has a positive impact on student reading abilities - and the conditions under which FVR occurs.

PowerPoint slides (shared DropBox folder)

Padlet: Your ideas for using technology to promote reading

Explore concrete ways that technology can be used to encourage FVR and interactions with books, including:

  1. Author and fan websites. Young readers like know more “about the author” and the Internet is rich with resources produced both by the authors themselves, their publishers, and their fans. Want to know what’s next in a favorite series? Check the author’s page or blog. Want to read more about a favorite character? Check the “fanfiction” often written by other young readers. That popular new movie jsut might be based on a novel that's in the library, so media ties-ins are powerfully motivating. Clever librarians find ways of helping students easily locate these materials by pasting printed lists of websites or QR codes in the backs of books or by adding links as a part of the electronic bibliographic record in the catalog.
  2. Sharing/social networking sites. Making reading a social activity no longer means just having a weekly book club meeting. Make sure older kids know about free websites like Shelfari, LibraryThing, and Goodreads. Biblionasium is great for younger readers. If you want a "walled-garden" program that allows sharing, library automation programs like Follett’s Destiny Quest allow students to record what they've read, write recommendations, share their recommendations with other students and discuss books online. Figment is designed just for aspiring authors to share their own writings with others.
  3. Curation tools for student use. While not designed just for sharing reading interests like the tools above, generic curation tools like Pinterest, Tumblr, ScoopIt - along with older tools like Delicious and Diigo - allow the selection and sharing of interests among students. Student read what other students recommend and get excited about.
  4. Library/student productivity tools. Book “reports” take on a whole new look when readers are allowed to use multimedia tools to generate creative responses to books - and then share them with other students online. Using Glogster, Animoto, poster makers, digital image editors and dozens of other (usually) free tools, students can communicate through sight and sound as well as in writing. Make sure these student-created products are available for other students to see via GoogleDrive, Dropbox, YouTube, Slideshare, or other sites that make the work public - or at least viewable by others within the school.
  5. Library promotion webpages. Good library sites, of course, promote good books. But the best homepages hook readers through slideshows, videos, widgets, and podcasts - generating interest in print through media. (How about the stuff kids create themselves?) Creative librarians do surveys and polls on book related topics using free online tools like GoogleApps Forms and SurveyMonkey. (Collect requests for new materials using an online form as well.) Does your library have a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account to let kids know about new materials - and remind them of classics?
  6. Get flashy with digital displays. Screen-savers on library computers put books right in front of kids faces. So do digital picture frames sitting on the circ desk that scroll book covers. Does your school have a messaging system that runs on monitors in the hallway that could include the "read of the day"?
  7. Virtual author visits. Author visits can generate a lot interest in books and reading, but unless only local authors come to the school, such visits may not fit a library’s budget. But it is far less expensive to bring an author in virtually using Skype, Google Hangouts or othe video conferencing program. Check out the Skype an Author Network website to get some ideas.
  8. E-book libraries and e-book apps. Take advantage of those tablets, smart phones and other student-owned (or school provided) devices by making sure your e-book collection, digital magazines, and other digital resources are easy to find. Students are showing a growing preference for reading in digital formats. Even if your library does not have the budget for commercial e-materials, provide links to repositories of open source e-books like Project Gutenberg and ICDL. Link to the materials that your public library system may offer. (Ours provides access to dozens of popular magazines via Zinio to students having a public library card.)
  9. Reading self-assessment tools. While subject to no small degree of debate in the educational community, programs like Accelerated Reader can be motivating for many students. E-book libraries like MyOnReader are now including self-assessment reading ability and interest tests and means of students being able to track their own reading levels and amount read. Will being able to find books that interest a student - at a level that they can comprehend - spark reading? I think so.
  10. _ As is the practice with lists of ten presented on the EduTech blog, #10 here has been left deliberately blank, as both an invitation for people to tell me what I have missed (or ignored), and as an acknowledgement that my own knowledge of such things is decidedly incomplete. [I totally stole this, but forgot to record the source. Mea culpa, but it's too good not to re-use. - Doug]

Wrap Up/Q&A/Review of online brainstorming responses

Doug's articles and columns:

Linking Libraries and Literacy: a Review of //The Power of Reading: Insights into the Research// KQWeb, Mar/Apr 2005

The Last of the Book-Only Librarians, Head for the Edge, LMC, December 2011


ToonDoo/Toontasticapp/Go Animate


Big Huge Labs Motivator



Pininterest (Book trailers)

16 ways teachers use Pinterest

Tumblr (Social, authors, publishers) - where the kids are

ScoopIt (newsletter format)

Vine 6 seconds of video (new book covers)

Smore (newsletter editor)


Online Booktalks (list of sites)


Teacher Tube (search by book name or search "booktalks")

Classroombooktalk - contribute your own or your own students' booktalks


Skype an Author Network


Beaman, Anita and Amy Obert. Reading 2.0 website <>

Beaman, Anita. "YA Lit 2.0 : How Technology is Enhancing Reading for Pleasure." Knowledge Quest: vol 35:1, Sept/Oct 2006, 30-33.

Gallagher, Kelly. Readicide. Stenhouse Publishers, 2009.

Krashen, Stephen. Free Voluntary Reading. Libraries Unlimited, 2011.

Krashen, Stephen. Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited, 2004

Legatt, Jen. A tenth way to use technology to promote reading. Reflecting Forward blog, February 10. 2014.

Ludwig, Sarah "Going Beyond the BookTalk: Breathing New Life Into Book Programming with Technology"

Ludwig, Sarah "Using Pinterest in School Libraries"

Ludwig, Sarah "Using Vine in the Library" Voya, August 2012

Meyer, Nancy Bringing Tech 2 Books

Pai, Seeta. 4 Alarming Findings About Kids' and Teens' Reading. Common Sense Media, May 12, 2014.

McQuillan, Jeff. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims Real Solutions. Heinemann, 1988

Valenza, Joyce. Guide to Free E-books

Valenza, Joyce. Reading 2.0 slide show <>

From Pai, Seeta. 4 Alarming Findings About Kids' and Teens' Reading. Common Sense Media, May 12, 2014:

>>Reading rates have dropped precipitously among adolescents.

  • 53% of 9-year-olds vs. 17% of 17-year-olds are daily readers.
  • The proportion who "never" or "hardly ever" read tripled since 1984. A third of 13-year-olds and 45% of 17-year-olds say they've read for pleasure one to two times a year, if that.

>>Reading achievement among older teens has stagnated.

  • Reading scores of 9- and 13-year-olds have improved, but those of 17-year-olds haven't changed in 30 years.

>>There's a persistent gap in reading scores between white, black, and Latino kids.

  • 18% black and 20% Latino fourth-graders are rated as "proficient" in reading compared with 46% of white kids at that age (this gap has been relatively unchanged over two decades).

>>There's also a gender gap in reading across ages.

  • Girls read 10 minutes more per day than boys on average.
  • 12% more girls are rated as proficient in reading than boys.