Examples of Practice: Finding My Reading Balance with Bookcrawler

I just finished the excellent Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Set in the not too distant future, a homeless teenager named Wade is part of a virtual world, along with just about everyone else on the planet, called OASIS. There is a contest in which who ever finds a hidden “egg” with their avatar will be rewarded with the OASIS’ late creator’s estate worth billions of dollars. Danger ensues when Wade, whose avatar is known as Parzival, finds the first clue. The author does a really nice job of keeping the suspense high, while also making lots of 80’s references that, growing up during this decade, I found very humorous.

Ready Player One is also the 53rd book I have read since the summer of 2011. Although I did not meet the 40 book expectation within one school year that Donalyn Miller has for her students, it should be noted that some of my books were quite thick :). And just like her students, I also have set a goal to read a variety of genres. I think it is important to develop a more well-rounded reading diet.

I cringe a bit when an educator says, “I don’t have time to read during the school year.” I keep my thoughts to myself on this matter. However I do reflect on how any teacher who isn’t a regular reader can effectively guide students to be independent readers themselves. What titles would that teacher recommend to a student if they did not have the knowledge of what is available? Instead of addressing this in one-on-one conversations, I find the best way to encourage educators to be readers is to model it.

An iOS app that has helped me find my reading balance is Book Crawler. It is a paid app that is similar to Goodreads. You can scan in a title, or find a text through an online server such as Google.


So why not use Goodreads? I use that too. But what Book Crawler provides is a more visual inventory of what I have read and plan to read.


I can add titles I have in Book Crawler to Goodreads, as well as share what I have read on other social media tools. I can also add tags and comments to books in order to organize them into more specific categories.


One of the best parts about Book Crawler is the visual way I can assess my reading balance. By selecting “Genre” instead of “Titles”, my list of books is reorganized by subject matter. Each genre is tallied based on how many books are in each group.


After looking at my list this way, I could easily see that I have not read a graphic novel, need to look for more general fiction, and had read quite a few professional resources.

One of the negatives about Book Crawler is that it seems like not a lot of readers are using it when compared to Goodreads. The location tool in the app tells me who the nearest person is proximity wise that has read the same book. Many times that person is hundreds or even thousands of miles a way. This is why I connect my Book Crawler account with Goodreads, to be able to connect with other readers.

I could see this app being used for a teacher’s classroom, professional and/or personal library. For example, students could scan the books in and tag them with their names. Once they finished reading a title, they can write a review in the comments for other students to find. There is potential for this tool to help develop a community of balanced, avid readers in a classroom.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

2 thoughts on “Examples of Practice: Finding My Reading Balance with Bookcrawler”

  1. Thank you for the book review! I immediately sent the book title to my friend, who happens to be my high school’s literacy coach.

    This is my second year as an intensive reading teacher. I’m deep in the trenches of working on my reading endorsement and will soon begin my ESOL endorsement as well. Reading time is at a premium, but even as a fairly new teacher (third year overall), I have learned that I cannot be enthusiastic about a book if I haven’t read it!

    I buy a book or two nearly every time I get paid, and I try to read what I buy quickly. Then, I do book talks. I can barely get to my third class before someone wants the book/books I’ve spoken about.

    Thanks for what you’ve written. It’s completely validated what I’ve learned, on my own and from watching my friend recommend books to students…that to cultivate a love for reading in my class, I must lead by example.


    1. I think high school students would find Ready Player One a great read. Good call recommending it to your colleague.

      Venturing out into new genres and discovering authors broadens my perspectives. I find the more I vary my reading habits, the more connections I am able to make with other texts and the world around me. This, in turn, makes me a better educator for my students. Hats off to you for making time to be a lifelong reader and learner.


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