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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Even More Free Resources from Children's Publishers

For those of you just joining us, this is Part III of an unofficial and unprecedented look at free online resources from children's publishers. I recommend you also check out Part I and Part II for some terrific links. A disclaimer: This is not meant in any way to be a list of the "Best Children's Publishers." Frankly, some exceptional presses are not mentioned in any of these three posts. Instead, this is a summary of those publishers offering teachers, parents, and students a little extra: teaching guides, reading group guides, printables, downloads, games, audio, video, or related links.

August House is a publisher best known for its storytelling and world folktales titles such as Storyteller's Start-Up Book, Ready-To-Tell Tales, and Wisdom Tales from Around the World. I've used these titles in summer camp settings with great success. What's most exciting on this publisher's site, however, is Story Cove. Story Cove is an interactive portal where students can either hear or view dozens of tales from around the world (which are also available in hard copy). Beneath the book covers on the index page you'll find links to Story Activities (such as Anansi and the Tug o' War) which typically include pdf teaching guides at four different levels (adaptable to higher levels as well). From August House's main site also check out the storytelling links for additional resources, information, and events.

Capstone Kids is a child-centered portal offering games and activities, mostly related to Capstone's graphic titles. But students can also check out chapter book characters such as Claudia Cristina Cortez from Capstone's numerous imprints. Downloads of stationery, stickers, wallpaper, journal pages, and a vacation packing list accompany a list of titles in that series. Other titles offer more generic downloads which could be used with titles of similar genre, such as How to Lift Fingerprints from the Field Trip Mysteries series. If you've ever considered using graphic novels, Capstone offers several resources on graphic novels that are safe for the classroom, including several downloads and the opportunity to receive a graphic novel teaching kit through the mail.

Stonearch, an imprint of Capstone, also offer a variety of resources including readers theater scripts and Ed-Libs, Stonearch's take on Madlibs. Also check out FactHound, another Capstone affiliated site, which allows students to search on topics of interest to find hand-picked results appropriate for children.

Holiday House is a fairly new publisher to me, but I recognized many of their titles as I further explored the site, especially those by David A. Adler and Russell Freedman. Teachers can access lots of free resources from a single page, including an educator's guide to Adler's popular picture book biographies and a guide to using picture books to teach Language Arts. Some popular titles from this publisher include Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal's Search for Truth.

Kids Can Press offers several resources through their US and Canadian sites. Both sites, for example, offer electronic advance copies of new titles on their homepage. From that same homepage you can access the Resource Room which requires free but instant registration, and offers organized access to all the "good stuff" on the site. Clicking on individual titles throughout the site will also provide links to teaching guide downloads, such as this one for No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure. Other popular books from this publisher include One Hen, Adventures in Ancient Greece (and other books from that series, which I blogged on previously), and If the World Were a Village.

Lobster Press is a small independent publishing house with a number of quality titles. Their Kids' Zone has a number of activities for print out, as well as a handful of kid-friendly links. From a single page you'll find free teachers' guides, quizzes, and lesson plans to use with Lobster Press books.

Another small publisher is Turtle Books in Connecticut. Choose Lesson Plans from their homepage to find teaching guide pdfs to several books including the award winning Prairie Dog Pioneers (Willa Cather Literary Award for the Best Children’s Book of 1999).

NorthSouth's most popular title is The Rainbow Fish, but you'll see more diverse titles as well, along with the resources to support them. One popular download is Once Upon a Time: A teacher’s guide for using fairy tales in the classroom.

Harcourt Trade Publishers has a number of free resources for teachers, including downloadable kits for Pirates, Chet Gecko, and National Poetry Month. On a different page you'll find a jumping off point called Teacher Tools, which provides access to numerous teaching guides, reading guides, theme lists, and related sites. Some features are presently off-line, but keep the page bookmarked and check back! I saw some guides before they went AWOL, and they're pretty good (such as the download for How I Became a Pirate.

Pelican Publishing Company lists a number of teaching guides for their picture books titles. Most promising is a series of original tales by Virginia Walton Pilegard which blend Chinese history and customs with mathematics. The Warlord's Beads (see the study guide), The Warlord's Kites, and The Warlord's Fish are three of the five titles in this series.

Most readers know Andersen Press from their Elmer the Elephant books. The publisher boasts many other popular characters as well, and many are featured in kid-friendly microsites full of cool activities. The Grown Ups Section features Teachers' Guides, Activity Downloads, and Book Discussions (essentially, a thematic grouping of their books).

Oxford University Press (UK) sounded a little too uptight and stuffy for me to even bother investigating, but I'm really glad I did. The Dinosaur Cove minisite and the The Death Defying Pepper Roux minisite are worth the visit, and would help to get students psyched about these titles. Many individual titles on this site contain excerpts and related links.

Bloomsbury Children's Books (UK) is one of those publishers whose books you'll recognize before the publisher's name. Their site features a very cool Historical Fiction Timeline, which organizes their titles in that genre by historical period (some of my homeschooling friends would find this to be very cool). You can also find their titles organized by theme as well. Their kids' site features videos, online games, and a few coloring sheets. If you're looking for teaching and readers' guides, you'll find them at the Bloomsbury US site.

Ladybird Books (UK) resources page is misleading; it seems to offer just a few resources. But after checking out the two primary games (bottom), you'll notice that there's also a link at the top of the page to Things to Do, and there you'll find more: activity sheets, downloads, and some cool "Madabout" posters for downloading (whales, sharks, space, knights, and more). There's not a lot for the over-primary crowd, but what's here is very good (and if you dig the titles, most are available in the US).

Little Tiger Press likewise is created with the younger crowd in mind. From the main page, click on For Parents, For Teachers, or Free Stuff from menu bar on left. Beautiful illustrations (screensavers, wallpapers) and activity sheets for downloads.

Puffin Books (UK) features activity downloads and teachers' notes for many popular Roald Dahl books, as well as links to book related websites and author sites. You'll also find a helpful resource called Ask the Teacher, where the publisher has listed many questions commonly asked of reading teachers, along with the answers.

But wait, there's more...

Really. This list represents only half of the newly uncovered resource sites I've found to share. So follow me on Twitter and be on the lookout for Part IV! And as always, let me know if I missed some!