I know I’ve blogged a little bit about Tar Heel Reader in the past – but I think it’s time for a new blog post about one of the most useful features of this wonderful resource. Tar Heel Reader is one of my very favourite literacy resources – currently it contains over 24,000 easy to read books on a wide range of topics (with more being added every week). I use Tar Heel Reader books for Guided Reading, and it’s a perfect resource for many students for Self-Selected Reading. It is also useful for a range of alphabet books for the working with words block.
In terms of using it for Self-Selected Reading, there is a clever tool in Tar Heel Reader called “favorites”. This is the tool I use to build the custom bookshelves in my Guided Reading packs. The favorites tool lets you select a range of books for a specific purpose or student – and then access it again as needed.For example, I have made a bookshelf for students to use after reading “Monkey and Me” by Emily Gravett. You can get to this bookshelf by clicking here. The bookshelf picks up on different themes from the original book – so it provides links to books about monkeys, books about the zoo – and a book about being tired!
I also made a bookshelf for a specific student who loved monster trucks. He had a strong preference for certain monster truck books – so we pulled these together into a bookshelf here. He and his teacher still go back and look at the general monster trucks search in Tar Heel Reader occasionally as there are new books always being added – but he always knows he can go back to this bookshelf to get to his favourites – and he uses this not only within the self-selected reading block but he also chooses to go to this bookshelf in his leisure time .
To create a list of favourites in Tar Heel Reader you first need to log in. The link to log in is in the column on the right of Tar Heel Reader – right at the very bottom. If you don’t already have a log in, you will need to email email@example.com to get an invitation to register.
Once you’ve logged in, search for the first book to add to your favorites page. Once you have found a book that you want, put a tick in the box in the top right corner of the book on the search page (see the image below). Then click the button at the top or bottom of the search page that says “Update Favorites”.As you find more books, just tick them on the search page and click “Update Favorites”. A counter next to the update favorites button will let you know how many books are currently on your favorites page e.g. “You have 8 books on your Favorites page”.
Once you are happy with the selection of books you have added (or if you just want to go and check them out) – you can go and see your bookshelf by clicking on the word “Favorites” about 3/4 of the way down the column on the right hand side of most Tar Heel Reader pages – it appears just below the list of languages that Tar Heel Reader books have been written in.
Once your favorites page has appeared – you can use it to go straight to any of the books you have selected. You can also remove a book from the bookshelf using the cross next to it – and you can go back to the home page and do another search to add more books.
Once you are happy with your completed Favorites page, one of the most important things to know about this process comes next! Each favorites bookshelf that you create has a completely individual web address. To get back to it – you need to SAVE the web address in your browser or in some other way. This means that you can make a limitless number of bookshelves for a myriad of purposes – but it is really important that you save that exact address so that you can get back to the bookshelf you have made in the future. Once you log out of Tar Heel Reader and/or close your browser the bookshelf will disappear – and the only way you will be able to get back to it is if you have saved the web address.
I hope you find this tool as useful as I do – and happy bookshelfing!!!!