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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Free Teachers' Resources from Children's Book Publishers

I'm not lazy, and I'm not cheap. But I really appreciate it when publishers back up their titles with solid, easily accessible teaching resources. With that in mind, I've listed some publishers which I feel really "knock it out of the park" with their online resources for teachers. Have I forgotten your favorite? Are you a publisher that feels you should be on this list? Email me and let me know. I'd love to give credit where credit is due.

Annick Press is a Canadian Publisher with a wide variety of titles. Although most titles in this list have a lesson plan link below them, be sure to click on each title to access additional resources including teachers guides, printable activities, and related links. Made You Look How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know is one title that I would personally and highly recommend for anyone teaching media literacy (see my post on Dollars and Sense, which features picture books and ideas for teaching about financial literacy).

Big Guy Books is a small press specializing in titles for boys. Their time traveling Time Soldiers books are perfect for those reluctant readers in your class, and the professionally written teaching guides are a definite incentive for further exploring these titles. You can even preview the first title of that series (Rex) via a free ebook.

Candlewick Press is one of those presses that flies under the radar, but you've probably read and loved many of their titles. Their resource page features tons of links, including reading levels, teachers guides, reproducible activity sheets, audio and video links, and more. An easier way to see the quality of resources made available to teachers is to click on a single title, such as the landing page for Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant. There you'll find a separate discussion guide, teacher's guide, and activity kit, as well as the book's first chapter, an additional excerpt, audio and video links, and a whole lot more. A truly exemplary site from a publisher that supports its teachers.

Charlesbridge features a page of free materials correlated to many of their picture book titles. You can also view by title on their web site; clicking on any title gives you a pretty decent summary of the book, as well as a note from the author, reviews, a sample page spread, and links to related free materials. A pdf of Curriculum Connections provides exactly that, but also some thematic details as well as a convenient look at all the book covers. (Participants from my workshops will recognize Galileo's Leaning Tower Experiment and What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? from among the titles).

Children's Book Press is a small, nonprofit independent publisher specializing in multicultural books. While their titles may not be familiar to you yet, they're worth a look; this single page of resources is a good jumping off point to get started.

Crabtree Publishing has a series of high quality, curriculum aligned teaching guides that provide lesson plan ideas as well as blackline masters. While there, also check out the printable graphic organizers. If you like what you see, you can create an online wish list for parents and friends.

Dawn Publications specializes in science and nature picture books for the younger crowd, although I would still highly recommend their titles for classroom use through the upper elementary grades. Several of their titles would be a great way to prepare students for field trips, and I've also see their applications in summer camp settings. As Nature Director at a summer camp, I put Joseph Cornell's books to use on an almost daily basis. Sharing Nature with Children and Sharing Nature with Children II are classics which belong on every nature lover's bookshelf.

Harpers Collins Children's boasts a huge list of titles with Reading Guides or Teaching Guides. Note that at the top of the page, another tab reads Book Activities; this contains printable activities (mostly for picture books) which may or may not appear in the Teaching Guides for each title. This site allows you to preview most books online before purchasing.

Houghton Mifflin Publishers (which includes Clarion) features a teacher/librarian section, with questions and extensions for many of their titles.

Hyperion Books for Children (now affiliated with Disney) features a variegated collection of picture books and graphic novels as well as novels, and all teacher resources are linked from a single page. You'll find resources there for contemporary favorites such as Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and John, Paul, George & Ben.

Lee and Low Books (About Everyone, For Everyone) specializes in high quality, multicultural titles. Their teachers' page gives an idea of the resources they provide, and by choosing a category (such as African American, Middle Eastern) you're directed to a list of Active Learner Classroom Guides, "designed to help you, the teacher, deliver useful and practical information to your students." Their titles are highly recommended for teachers and librarians looking to round out the scope and perspectives of their libraries. I've blogged about some of their titles including Heroes and Baseball Saved Us, and George Crum and the Saratoga Chip will be featured in an upcoming post on Invention.

MacMillan (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) allows teachers to search teaching guides by title, author, or grade level. On this resource page you'll also find a calendar of ideas, as well as a guide for preparing for an author's visit. The calendar is pretty neat, as it names monthly observations (mostly secular) and recommended books for those observations.

Orca Book Publishers (out of Canada) is a new name to many, but their books can be seen increasingly in U.S. collections. The U.S. website includes a number of teaching guides, as well as books by themes, and teaching tools and free books.

Penguin Books lists all of its titles in a single page, which is fine with me. I found myself clicking mostly on books I hadn't read yet, which for the publisher is a pretty good reason to format teaching guides in this way (versus hunting for individual titles). Lovers of the Miss Bindergarten books will find a teaching guide here, as will fans of the new Astro Boy movie.

Random House's Teachers at Random site is a well-designed resources for teachers at all levels. In addition to teaching guides for the various titles (see the pdf for one of my all-time favorite tall tales New York's Bravest by Mary Pope Osborne), teachers will also find Classroom Cast, which features videos starring popular children's authors and illustrators discussing their work. For those elementary teachers who teach with themes, you'll find a theme list searchable not only by theme name but also grade range. Lots of other resources here for reading teachers at all levels.

Scholastic is the undisputed champ of children's publishing, its heavyweight belt earned monthly with school book club orders and book fairs. Its site, however, is a bit daunting; there's an awful lot there, and it's not real easy to search. Sometimes even when you know what you want, and you know it's there, you can't find it! So while I would recommend an unguided browse, there are two features you shouldn't miss. The first is the Teacher's Book Wizard, which you can read about in an earlier post. A second feature is the collection of sixty-five Book Videos. These were created to serve as mini-commercials for book fairs, but they're also a pretty cool way to get kids excited about books.

Simon and Schuster's site isn't the prettiest or friendliest around (I think they use too many serious fonts that are too often capitalized for no reason), but don't be scared off. The resources are worth the visit. Books can be searched according by several categories, and many resources are available including group discussion guides, printable activities, and audio and video links. The resource page for Andrew Clements' No Talking will give you a pretty good idea of what's typically available.

Sylvan Dell is a small publisher of science and nature titles, but what they lack in quantity of titles they absolutely make up for in quality. I blogged about the company in general, and then later about a stand-out title called One Wolf Howls. For teachers in the lower grades looking to bring some life and depth into their scinec programs, I can't recommend these books enough. You'll be amazed at the supporting resources provided at their site.

I've blogged about many Sleeping Bear Press books; not only are they impressive as picture books, but they're backed by a well-organized site of resources. I mentioned their huge variety of content area ABC books, and also individual titles such as The Listeners and America's White Table.

Thanks to all of these publishers for going above and beyond the call of duty.

3 comments:

The Book Chook said...

Keith, great list! I love what publishers are offering too. It really adds value to their already valuable books.

Kevin Hodgson said...

Keith
This is a fantastic resource. Thanks
Kevin

Annick Press - Children's Book Publisher said...

Great resource you've put together here, and glad to know our lesson plans/extra materials are helpful!

Thanks,
Joanna K
Annick Press