Goodreads: Creating a Community

English teachers lead by example through use of Goodreads

Josie Lorenz | Staff Writer

English teachers are practicing what they preach.

English teachers at Mason High School (MHS) utilize Goodreads, a website that connects communities of readers, to encourage a love for reading in their students. Reading is a core part of any English class curriculum, but Goodreads encourages reading outside the classroom and suggests options that may spark curiosity in students.

English and Honors English I teacher Amanda Bross uses Goodreads inside and outside her classroom. Goodreads allows readers to track their reading progress, receive recommendations, create reading goals and review books to give other readers their input. Bross said Goodreads is essential in her classroom from the start of the year, and she believes this platform can help students create a healthier relationship with reading. 

“[Goodreads] is a really great tool to work toward becoming a lifelong reader,” Bross said. “Every one of my students signs up for Goodreads and the goal is that they use it all year and beyond [the classroom].”

Like Bross, English III and Honors English III teacher Michelle Bruewer consistently uses Goodreads in her life. In addition to encouraging students to continue reading throughout their lives, Bruewer said Goodreads also helps teachers throughout the MHS English department stay up-to-date with the books their colleagues are reading.

“I follow a lot of English teachers in the building,” Bruewer said. “[Goodreads] is a great way for me to gauge what books I should maybe read, and it helps me find books that I’ve never seen before.

English and Honors English I teacher Jennifer Leitsch uses Goodreads to review books with an honest opinion that provides insight to her students and colleagues. Leitsch said she believes it is her responsibility as a reader to give input to her Goodreads community.

“I always keep my students in mind when I’m reviewing things,” Leitsch said. “I am always conscious of the fact that my reading life is public, [but] I feel like it is part of my job as a teacher and reader to model a healthy reading life.”

Like Leitsch, Bross said she believes that it is her responsibility as a teacher to model what a healthy reading life looks like for her students. Bross said a healthy reading life happens when students choose to read consistently for their own benefit.

“I think I lose credibility if I tell my students it’s important to be a reader and I’m not one myself,” Bross said. “Reading is such a valuable part of life and of becoming an empathetic individual. If I don’t read, I have not practiced what I preach.”

Leitsch also lends the idea of practicing what one preaches to her assignments. She believes if she assigns something to her students, she should be able to do it as well, teaching her to empathize with her students. Leitsch said this mindset carries on into her and her students’ reading lives.

“I believe that the teacher needs to be the model reader in the classroom,” Leitsch said. “My students are currently writing narratives right now and I’m working on my own so that I can model the process and remember how hard it is to write.”

Bruewer strives to set an example of a model relationship with reading that her students can mimic. Bruewer said she advocates for communication and active reading, so Goodreads is an important assist in her classroom.

“I think it’s extremely important for teachers to read, or at least be aware of the books that kids are reading so they can talk to kids about reading,” Bruewer said. “A student is more likely to continue reading if they have multiple people in their lives talking about it, and I think teachers are a great resource for that.”

For Leitsch, and many others like her, Goodreads provides an accessible community of readers that share a common taste in books. Whether it is talking to friends and coworkers, reading reviews on the site or simply talking to her students about their most recent read, Leitsch said that having that community helps one grow as a reader.

”Real readers seek out community,” Leitsch said. “Real readers talk about what they’re reading with other people, and real readers get recommendations from friends. That’s part of the reading life.”

Bross hopes students can bring their tools from Goodreads over into the next stages of their life. She said reading should be a life-long skill and hopes she can help students foster that relationship with the help of the website.

“I hope [the students] carry these reading skills with them,” Bross said. “People who are informed citizens, read to better educate themselves and learn about the stories of others. The benefits and the importance of reading is immeasurable.”