Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Quick Take on Reading Suggestion Engines

One of the reasons I wanted to take the CSS Tech Challenge was to to find out about new tools available on the web, so I appreciate the link to Joye Valenza's post, "Reading Suggestion Engines: Your Next Read" on School Libray Journal's Neverending Search blog.  I took a very quick look at these sites and the following are my quick impressions.  I plugged in random titles, both children's and adult, and met with varying degrees of success.

BookSeer - fun for a quick look, Amazon suggestions only at this time.

Scholastic's Teacher Book Wizard - a good feature is the ability generate lists of similar titles with the same reading level or to change the reading level.

JacketFlap - I did not have much success using this and did not feel it was worth the time to figure it out. - visual book recommendations which will appeal to kids but they also seem to basically come from Amazon.  Oddly I got suggestions for Very Hungry Caterpillar but none for Dinosaurs before Dark.

What Should I Read Next - Quick.  I got a nice long list for Maze of Bones and not just for other titles in the series.  On the other hand when I put in Murder on the Orient Express some strange suggestions came up - Gone with the Wind??

Database of Award Winning Children's Literature - it is easy to set the parameters (genre and gender are particularly helpful) which helps narrow down the list.  Because the books are "award winning" most of the popular titles that kids request will not come up.  However, this is great for parents who want their children to read quality literature. - an interesting perspective but not particularly practical for a quick search.

Young Adult Books in Series and Sequels Wiki - a great help.  It seems that everything is a trilogy or quartet now, so it's hard to keep up.

TasteKid - I put in Agatha Christie's Poirot and got some very, very strange suggestions (Siddartha? Chronicles of Narnia? Streetcar Named Desire?).  Twilight generated Chronicles of Narnia (again?), Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Memoirs of a Geisha in addition to other books in the series.

Gnooks - author searches only.  Love the literature map!

Some sites were more useful than others but when it comes to making book suggestions, librarians are much better at it than computers. 

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