Tech-Savvy Reading Promotion: A Toolbox for Librarians and Other Educators

With the splendor of summer reading on the horizon, now is a great opportunity to consider: are your students well-prepared to make independent reading choices? In her new book, Tech-Savvy Reading Promotion: A Toolbox for Librarians and Other Educators, Nancy Keane offers up hundreds of dynamic ideas to help you promote reading in the places where students are already spending a lot of their time: on their devices. Here's just a few of them. Try them yourself, or take them up a level by letting your students do the creative work!

Students in middle and high school spend less time reading for pleasure than elementary students. Research shows learning to make effective choices in their book selection improves student outcomes (Greaney and Clarke 1975; Krashen 2004; Miller 2012). But students needed help choosing books for independent reading. They don't always know which books may interest them nor understand how to find out. They may need the help of adults to find just the right book that will keep them interested. Librarians and teachers don't always have the time and resources to help students select their reading books. Parents may not have the expertise to help them. We can use technology to help them select books in a variety of different ways.

Using book promotional tools helps students:

  • Become aware of which books are available for them to read.
  • Be informed about which books may interest them. If they are lovers of a particular genre such as fantasy, book promotional tools can share other fantasy books for them to choose from.
  • Develop an awareness of the many books that match their interests. Many times children automatically head for fiction books for free reading. They may not be aware of nonfiction titles that they will enjoy.

Teachers and librarians who work with children know how they react to promotional materials. When introduced to a variety of books, children will usually find a book that speaks to them and makes them want to pick it up to read.


Comic Strips

Comic strips have been a favorite genre for children for years. Be it the Sunday comics in the newspaper or graphic novels, comics connect with visual learners. You just need to watch students gathered around the graphic novel section of a library or bookstore to know how popular they are and how enticing. It is no wonder that advertising companies are using this format to sell products. And it is just as easy to promote reading and books using comics.

Comics can be used in a variety of ways to promote reading, as detailed below. Remember, comics can be as short as one panel or fill up a whole page. They can be embedded into web pages or printed and used as posters. Here are some ideas for using comics in book promotion:

  • Create a comic of an author's work. The comic could show a scene from a book.
  • Create a comic that stresses titles in a genre. Characters can discuss a genre and recommend books from that genre.
  • Create a comic for book shelves that draws attention to the titles in the section.
  • Use comics to promote library events such as book clubs or author visits.
  • Use comics to promote reading challenges.
  • Create a comic of the state book award nominees to entice students to read them.
  • Comics are a good way to promote thematic books or new books.
  • Create comic bookmarks.

Before beginning to create a comic, determine your purpose. Do you want to showcase a program, a book, general reading promotion, or other ideas? Once you have determined your purpose, begin to construct a storyboard.

Rough out how you want the comic to look. How many panels will you have? Will this be a quick one-to-three-panel comic for a web page or a longer comic? Who will be the characters? Will they be human or animal or other? Decide on the text and any other details needed. You can then create your comic.

There are many good comic makers that are available that can help you create an interesting comic, including MakeBeliefsComix,ToonDoo, StoryboardThat, and Witty Comics.


Talking Avatars

Using talking avatars on a web page or a kiosk is a sure way to attract readers. A talking avatar can be a cartoon character or even a picture that is made to represent a reader's adviser. There are many uses for talking avatars in book promotion. The talking avatar can represent your library in a fun way. And since you can use your own voice to make the avatar speak, you are extending your reach as well as your program's influence. Here are some ideas for using talking avatars:

  • Create a talking avatar to talk about the works of an author. Depending on the avatar used, several books by one author can be promoted. Perhaps the avatar can introduce the first book in a series and mention that there are more.
  • The talking avatar could describe a scene from a book.
  • Create a talking avatar that discusses multiple titles in a genre. The avatar can describe a genre and recommend books from that genre.
  • Use talking avatars to promote library events such as author visits or book clubs.
  • Use talking avatars to promote reading challenges.
  • Create a talking avatar that introduces students to the state book award nominees to entice them to read them.
  • Talking avatars are a good way to promote thematic books or new books.
  • Using a digital picture frame or a TV, have your talking avatar greet readers and offer book suggestions as they enter the library or classroom.
  • Choose a character on a book cover to promote the book.
  • Use your school mascot as your talking avatar.
  • Use your avatar in customer service. You can use your voice to deliver your message.

Before creating a talking avatar, determine your overall purpose and what you wish to accomplish. Do you want to emphasize a program, a book, general reading promotion, or other ideas? Do you want to use one talking avatar for all book promotions? Or, would it be better to create several different talking avatars to add diversity?

When you're ready to get started, you'll find there are many good talking avatar creation sites that are available that can help you create an interesting talking avatar, including Voki, ChatterPix, PuppetMaster, Tellagami, Blabberize, and more.

Get more create ideas, including how-tos for hundreds of apps in Tech-Savvy Reading Promotion: A Toolbox for Librarians and Other Educators.

Works Cited

Greaney, V., & Clarke, M. (1975). A longitudinal study of the effects of two reading methods on leisure-time reading habits. In D. Moyle (Ed.), Reading: what of the future? (pp. 107–114). London: United Kingdom Reading Association.

Krashen, S. D. (2004). The power of reading: insights from the research. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Miller, D. (2012). Creating a classroom where readers flourish. Reading Teacher, 66(2), 88–92.

Book cover
Gone are the days of browsing library bookshelves—today's readers live much of their lives on their devices. Learn how to meet these young readers in their online activities by using technological tools that support independent reading and reading choices.

This book shows you how to use not only more traditional social media such as Facebook and blogs but also video, audio and print applications, databases, and more. You'll learn how to use new apps such as Moovly, Koma Koma, and Booksnaps; well-known media including Twitter, Skype, Flickr, and Goodreads; and Soundcloud, Smore, Flipgrid, and ebook clubs for reading promotion and readers' advisory.

For each of these technologies, you'll find a brief description of the platform, its content and applications, notes about the platform and its cost, how to use it for book promotion, and step-by-step instructions for promotional activities. Screenshots and drawings illustrate the instructions.
Author(s): Nancy J. Keane
Pages: 166 • Volumes: 1 • Size: 6 1/8x9 1/4
Paperback Price: $50.00
ISBN/ISSN: 9781440868504

Unleash new possibilities for reading promotion and readers' advisory with these technological tools that can help you to catch the interest of young readers and direct them toward positive reading experiences.

• Introduces users to effective new tools for promoting reading and providing readers' advisory services
• Helps educators to meet learners in the online environments they frequent
• Supports independent reading

Author Info

Nancy J. Keane has worked as a school librarian as well as adjunct faculty member at New Hampshire Technical Institute, Plymouth State University, and University of Rhode Island. A passionate proponent of free and independent reading, she teaches workshops around the country and is the author of the award-winning website Booktalks--Quick and Simple (, as well as a number of books, including The Tech-Savvy Booktalker, The Big Book of Children's Reading Lists, and The Big Book of Teen Reading Lists.

MLA Citation Keane, Nancy J. "Tech-Savvy Reading Promotion: A Toolbox for Librarians and Other Educators." School Library Connection, May 2019,

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Entry ID: 2208855

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