Smilebox is basically a free scrapbooking website where you can upload up to 30 photos at a time and create an enormous array of different slideshows. You can also create scrapbooks, greeting cards, photo albums and collages.  You can make as many slideshows as you’d like and then embed the widget – which opens up into a full-size slideshow – into your Facebook page, webpage or blog. In addition to images, you can also add video, words and music.

This is the best background for a slideshow related to books and reading, but there are plenty of others to chosse from.  See also the slideshow I created for our Middle School Book Week.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Justin D'Ath Extreme Adv
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Patrick Ness – Chaos Walking Trilogy

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness  Patrick Ness  the-ask-and-the-answer-by-patrick-ness  Monsters front cover jpeg

Author Patrick Ness has become a worldwide sensation with the release of his highly-acclaimed Chaos Walking series – The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer. Todd Hewitt is 13 years old and the youngest boy in Prentiss Town, a harsh and brutal place where men can hear each other’s thoughts, and where there are no women. Todd’s only friend is his talking dog, Manchee, until they stumble across a place in the swamp where there is no noise – and discover Viola.  Together they flee to Haven from the violent army of men determined to hunt them down, but Haven is not the refuge they had hoped it would be.

While the idea of ‘noise’ is creative and original, the books’ real substance is in the conflicts that occur in Todd’s mind, the decisions he makes on his way to becoming a man, and in the questions Patrick Ness raises in the readers’ minds about the reasons for war.  The third book in the series – Monsters of Men – is due to be released in the UK, Ireland and Australia in May this year.

Patrick will be touring New Zealand and Australia in February and March this year. In Queensland he will be presenting a public lecture at Queensland University of Technology on 15 March at 6pm, and he will also be presenting at the Somerset Celebration of  Literature Festival – 17-19 March on the Gold Coast. Check the Walker Books website for more details.

DailyLit: Read Books by Email or RSS

DailyLit is a site where busy people can sign up to receive short installments of books via email or RSS feed.  Many of these titles cost money (generally $5-$10), however over 800 titles are completely free!  It’s worth having a look at the site if you don’t have time to sit down and read a book, but have time to read a short 3-5 minute excerpt as you check your email. You can also join the online community and contribute to the forum discussions, as well as adding your own ratings and reviews.

According to the site creators, “We got the idea for DailyLit after the New York Times serialized a few classic works in special supplements a few summers ago. We wound up reading books that we had always meant to simply by virtue of making them part of our daily routine of reading the newspaper. The only thing we do more consistenly than read the paper is read email. Bingo! We put together a first version and began reading “War of the Worlds” and “Pride and Prejudice“. We showed it to friends, added more books and features at their request, and presto, DailyLit was born.”

“You can read your installments wherever you receive e-mail/RSS feeds, including on your Blackberry and iPhone. Installments arrive in your Inbox according to the schedule you set (e.g. 7:00am every weekday). You can read each installment in under 5 minutes (most folks finish in 2-3 minutes), and, if you have more time to read, you can receive additional installments immediately on demand. Our titles include bestselling and award winning titles, from literary fiction and romance to language learning and science fiction.”

If this type of reading doesn’t appeal to you, but you know someone who would appreciate it, you can even give them a gift subscription where each installment arrives at a selected time each day along with a personalized message from you.

Reading 2.0

In the middle of the year I was fortunate enough to attend the NECC 2008 Conference in San Antonio, and one of the sessions which really inspired me was called “Feed, Tag, Research: Remixing for School Library 2.5″. A group of 7 innovative TLs from America and Australia shared their passion to incorporate best practice Web 2.0 technologies into their libraries to enrich and empower students of today and tomorrow.

Anita Beaman – librarian at University High School, Illinois State University – was one of those presenters, and her passion is to meld books, reading and Web 2.0 – using 2.0 technology to promote reading for pleasure. Together with Amy Oberts, TL from Oakland Elementary School, Bloomington, Anita has developed a wiki called ‘Reading 2.0’ aimed at bringing together all kinds of internet sites which promote interaction with books and reading. Check it out at

These ladies say: “Harnessing technology to excite and empower your students’ literary development is our mission for Reading 2.0!

To encourage the digital native generation to read, we may have to redefine what we mean by reading. According to a recent article in American Libraries, teens are reading all the time–they just aren’t always reading in the “traditional ways.”So why not use what they DO read to encourage them to read more books? Use online forums like MySpace, YouTube, author blogs, and online book groups to help get your students excited about reading. Compile a brief list of links with additional info about an author or topic and print them on an address label. Stick the label in the books in a highly visible place–on the last page, or opposite the first page. Encourage your students to explore reading in their own territory.”

Below are some examples of the types of information Anita puts into the novels in her library:

Meg Cabot

Want more of Meg?  Here’s where to look!


Meg’s Diary:


Myspace Groups: or

Teen Lit (MySpace):

Readergirlz: or

Not Your Mother’s Book Club:

Sarah Dessen

Hey!  If you’re a Sarah Dessen fan, check out these sites online:




Sarahland: A Live Journal Community for Sarah Dessen Fans:

Teen Lit (MySpace):

Readergirlz: or

Not Your Mother’s Book Club:

Scott Westerfeld

Want more Westerfeld?  Check out the web:




Westerfeld Myspace Group:

Teen Lit (MySpace):

Not Your Mother’s Book Club:


Lookybook is a great site where you can actually look at picture books before you buy them. At first I thought it was a bit silly to allow people to see the whole book first, but the more I’ve looked, the more I’ve found that I’d like to buy!  It’s just like standing in a bookstore and browsing the books – except you do it from your own computer at your leisure.


“The world’s longest bookshelf. Libraries and bookstores have limited space, so the only book covers you see are generally best sellers. But what about all of those other books—new books, obscure books, undiscovered gems that are stuck sideways on the shelf, or worse, in a warehouse somewhere. Since we have infinite shelf space, every book on Lookybook is displayed cover out and searchable by a number of different criteria.”

To find books, you can search by keyword, author, illustrator, subject or genre, or you can click on the “Book Tumbler” to get a random selection of books. Each book has listed the size, number of pages, age level, publishing details and a review. If you like the book, you then have the option to purchase it online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Book Sense.

You also have the option to create a free account, which then enables you to create your own bookshelf of favourite titles, add comments, email the link to a friend, or you can save the link to your favourites in Facebook,, StumbleUpon or Digg.

“Your Bookshelf. We value the book reviews of librarians and industry experts and we especially value the opinions of moms and dads. Because we are a site for looking at and discovering new books, we want to know what you think and like. Not only can you share your comments about a particular book, you can share all your favorite books by creating and posting your Bookshelf. Fellow Lookybookers can look at your favorites and show you theirs—creating a virtual show-and-tell about today’s best picture books. (register to get a Bookshelf)”

The downside is that there are not many Australian authors or illustrators on the site; the upside is that you might just discover some really nice picture books that you’ve never heard of before!

This is an example of a picture book from Lookybook:

“When Pigasso met Mootisse” by Nina Laden

BookCrossing – Make the Whole World a Library!


If you want an exciting way to interest your students in reading, then try encouraging them to give books a ‘wild’ adventure with BookCrossing.  Over 700,000 people in 130 different countries have helped to create this ‘travelling library’, where you can tag and release books or go hunting for them around the world.  Over 5,000,000 books have been registerd so far, and 300 new members are added each day!

 How does it work?

Set up an account at, register each book to create a unique BookCrossing ID number for it, enter details about where you plan to release it, add some stickers, then let it go!! Hopefully someone will pick up the book, read it, add a comment to the web journal, then release it again back into ‘the wild’.  You will receive an email to alert you whenever someone adds a journal comment to one of your books, and in this way you can track where your books have travelled around the world.

At Redlands College I ask anyone travelling overseas or interstate if they would like to take a book and release it somewhere. So far this year we have released over 40 books around the world, and they have been picked up in London, Glasgow, Barcelona, Ontario, British Columbia and Bribie Island.

BookCrossing Store

A BookCrossing account is free, and if you are a teacher or librarian you can even get a free starter kit. If you would like to set your library or classroom up as a Crossing Zone, take a look at this link: 

I go to Scholastic warehouse sales and buy boxes of books for $1/book, and I let the students select which book they would like to take and release. I buy stickers, bookplates and release bags from the BookCrossing Store:, and I also glue labels onto the books which other BookCrossers have made up.  ( , also try typing ‘BookCrossing labels’ into Google)

One of these books is off to Germany

One of these books is off to Germany


From the BookCrossing website:   “BookCrossers give life to books. A book registered on BookCrossing is ready for adventure. Leave it on a park bench, a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym — anywhere it might find a new reader! What happens next is up to fate, and we never know where our books might travel. Track the book’s journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person.”

Below are some of the comments that people have left on Redlands College book journals:

“I was waiting for my flight back to Canada and found the book in Barcelona Airport Terminal B, June 28, 2008. I thought someone had forgotten it but when I moved it to another seat I turned it over and the bag said free book so with some hesitation and doubt I opened the bag and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not a hoax and hence brought the book home to London Ontario. I have now read the book and enjoyed it very much.”

“Caught the book in a bar in Glasgow. Traveled across Europe with me and back home to New York!”

“My parents discovered this book during the London leg of their trip to Germany. We were all impressed and amazed at where it was found as my sister and I are ex-Redlands College students. Its amazing the things you find when you leave home!”

“I found this book at the Vancouver International Airport. I was on my way home to Prince Rupert, BC (from Prince George, BC) and was waiting for my flight. I have never heard of this so I was interested…. I think this is a wonderful idea and am a life-time book lover myself. What a great adventure for both the child and the book!”

Some of our books that have been released
Some of our books that have been released       

Here’s a link to someone’s BookShelf that was posted on a forum. As you can see, he is a serious BookCrosser!!


READ Mini-Posters

These mini-posters are a fun way to advertise reading that’s happening in your libray or any other place!  Click on this link to go to the ALA page where you will be able to upload your own photos to create cool posters.

When you upload a photo, it’s a good idea to choose one that’s not too close-up, as it’s not always possible to get exactly the part of the photo that you want.

(Photo of dog reading from MBKepp’s Flickr photos)

Check out the READ mini-posters pool on Flickr, and add some of your own!