Virtual Library

Age: 8+yrs

Ease ****


Shelfari is a great online multi-purpose resource. Firstly, learners compile a virtual library of all the books they have read, plan to read or are reading now. They can write reviews after reading their books and share these with other classes and/or schools that they add to their ‘Friends’ list. They can also use the search facility to source books on a particular theme or books by an author they’re studying. It’s a great way for learners to publish their work (book reviews) and decide which books to read next based on others’ reviews. The debates can become very lively!


Go to and click on register. Create a profile name (we used A Class for ours!) and provide an email address. Create a password that only you, as teacher, know. We suggest that you don’t share this with learners unless you are happy for them to access the profile from home.

In order to create your class library, you can either ask each child to choose their favourite book of all time (you may ask them to write a review of their chosen book too), or have a class vote/ballot and create a Top 10 list.

Use the Shelfari search box to find the books on their database and ‘add’ them to your virtual library shelf. You are taken through the reviewing process every time you add a book and none of the information that is requested in mandatory, so you can include as much or as little as you want. We opted to include a short review, gave each book a star rating and we added ‘tags’ for searching (this in itself was a great vocabulary exercise). You can ‘skip’ any part that is not required or considered too difficult for your learners.

Once you’ve done this, you can use Shelfari for a host of other purposes. There are only 4 bookmarks at the top of your profile page and these are all fairly self-explanatory: Home, Profile, Books and Community.

‘Home’ takes you to the homepage, ‘Profile’ takes you to your profile page, this is where you can add, remove or edit books on your shelf. ‘Books’ enables you to search for books, authors etc. ‘Community’ enables you to contact others or see what other individuals or groups are reading or saying about books.

Using Shelfari is like having access to the biggest library database in the world in your classroom!

What do I need?

Internet access. An email address.

Added value

Learners can publish their writing in the form of book reviews and can gain access to national and international trends in reading habits. It also enables them to share their experiences of literature with the world. Whereas reading has traditionally been quite an insular experience, this software gives learners experiences of how the world of literature is changing in the 21st century.

Hints and tips

Check learners’ reviews and correct spelling and grammar if needs be. You can do this even after they’ve added their books to the profile shelf; just click ‘edit’.

You may wish for pupils to limit their review to 100 or 200 words. We believe this encourages them to be much more concise and it helps hone their writing skills. Also, very long-winded reviews can be very off-putting. You may prefer to have them write snappy blurbs instead of book reviews. Studying the blurbs on books they have in class will help them understand this genre of writing.

Check out our profile


As stated above, it is best to keep your password private and not use your personal Amazon account (Shelfari is owned by to access Shelfari in the classroom. If you’d like to contact other members, pre-arrange with colleagues in your own school or in other educational institutions. It is safer to not interact with unknown users.

Other opportunities to use the same software:

  • Post book reviews
  • Discuss favourite books with other learners
  • If you’ve already tried out the unit on using Wordle, why not ask pupils to create a Wordle using the tags they created for their favourite books? You can have a ‘Guess the Book’ quiz where pupils have to guess which book is being represented by the tag Wordle!

This post is also available in: Dutch, Italian, Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Welsh

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7 Responses to “Virtual Library”

  1. wyliczanie deklaracji Pit 38 October 16, 2012 at 05:31 #

    It is in reality a great and helpful piece of information.

    I’m happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. nic daniels
    nic daniels October 16, 2012 at 10:59 #

    Thanks for the feedback! If you get the opportunity, do try this out in class and let us know how it goes!

  3. nic daniels
    nic daniels October 17, 2012 at 19:54 #

    Sorry about that! Can’t imagine what could’ve gone wrong. If you ever feel up to, do have another go! We’ll be hand picking a selection of lessons and ideas from this site to publish in a teachers’ handbook and your comments help a lot! Have you seen some of the other ideas? I love ‘My First Movie”!

  4. Luminita October 22, 2012 at 19:30 #

    Even it’s very attractive it can be done only by English teachers. Also the age of the kids has to be greater than 8.

  5. nic daniels
    Nic Daniels October 23, 2012 at 15:24 #

    Thanks for the comment Luminita. We are recommending this software for use with learners 8yrs+ but as you can see from my example we do included Welsh language books in our virtual library as I’ve always taught in a Welsh language school. I don’t think there is anything stopping us from writing reviews etc in other languages? But learners will need some English to navigate around the site – maybe this in itself is a great learning opportunity?

  6. Rosemarie Fernández October 31, 2012 at 13:22 #

    A very innovative application. In this application, teachers and students share their literary experiences with everyone. An easy and interesting way to share your personal experiences on a book in the 21st century.

  7. nic daniels
    nic daniels December 29, 2013 at 19:12 #

    Thanks Rosemarie. I agree. And it’s something learners can add to throughout their time in school thus enabling them (and the teacher) to track their development and taste in reading material.

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