Online reading communities

Online reading communities, like the more traditional book clubs, provide opportunities for readers to engage with a worldwide community of readers—places where people can discuss, recommend, review and quarrel with other readers.

Readers can now also access material in new digital formats. Teachers and librarians can promote traditional print resources in many new ways. For children, the Internet is part of the fabric of their lives and socialising reading through the internet comes naturally.

Contents

The social web and reading
Transliteracy
Further reading and resources

The social web and reading

 The internet and new applications impact reading primarily in terms of format and readers responses.

Format

There are a growing variety of ways readers can access writing and stories easily via the internet including: downloadable MP3 audio books, e-books, magazines and journals in electronic format; e-news sources, blogs, wikis and other formats for writing and information.

Readers’ responses to things they have read

Examples include comments on blogs, e-journal articles, and news sites, open wikis where readers can write and add content, web versions of the ‘One City One Book’ programme’ where people around the world, including the author read the same book and then discuss via Twitter.

Other examples include:

  • online book clubs
  • writers who self-publish books on the web and / or
  • publish a chapter at a time and get reader feedback before writing the next chapter using online sites such as Wattpad.

Fan-fiction sites provide a place for readers to write new derivative work based on favourite books. These works are then read and discussed by a community of readers. In Japan novels written and read on mobile devices in a serialised progression are already popular, with some later published as printed books.

Websites such as Librarything and Good Reads allow users to freely catalogue and keep track of their books from any internet connected device including mobiles. Readers can review and read reviews, be part of a community of others discussing and rating books, access suggestions for reading, and more.

Transliteracy

The Transliteracy Research Group defines transliteracy as the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

As formats, platforms and media continuously evolve and boundaries blur it is important for teachers and librarians to integrate new technologies into their reading promotions and activities.

Using the social web to promote reading

In his article Promoting reading using this 2.0 stuff (PDF) Stephen Abram wrote "Reading is a social activity. There I said it. I know a lot of people see it as solitary, introverted, internalized, quiet, and even as anti-social! And frankly it isn’t…Since we really care about books (and reading), can we use the new tools on the web to put our services on steroids? Why 2.0? Well, because it offers the first real opportunity to use technology to go beyond search, storage and retrieval and actually engage with readers in a scalable way beyond our walls and beyond physical book formats…" 

Further reading and resources

Visit our Engaging teens with reading page for a list of online reading communities

Reading in new ways

The following links offer important discussion around the differences between traditional print and new online reading modes and attitudes

Image: Future is now-Community Virtual Library by robinmoch, on Flickr.