One thing I learned when I was director of reading for the Chicago Public Schools was that teachers’ appetites for resources, support, and professional development in reading were insatiable. No matter how much we tried to provide for them, they always seemed to want more. That is not criticism of teachers, but praise. The men and women who were teaching in Chicago wanted to do a good job, so their eyes were always open for new resources.
Since then, I’ve tried to keep my eyes out for stuff that would help them and their counterparts elsewhere. Especially free stuff. I’ve come across two helpful sites that I wanted folks to know about; you might find some helpful materials, activities, and information at these sites.
The first one is the Thinkfinity site supported by the Verizon Foundation in collaboration with the International Reading Association and other professional groups. This is the single most helpful place to go if you are looking for lesson plans or cool activities. This even provides on-line professional development resources for teachers, as well as neat things parents can do with their kids (or that kids can do on their own). You definitely want to add this to your favorites lists.
Recently, a friend put me onto another site. This one publishes books for children and adolescents on-line. These are older books (classics) that are no longer under copyright. The site provides complete texts and it is well indexed. You certainly won’t find the hottest thing in children’s literature at this site, but you may find copies of books that you would want to make available to kids. One of my favorites (The Velveteen Rabbit) is there and there are novels, stories, and books about lots of topics. There are some other useful resources, too, but the books are the thing here (not lists of books, but the books themselves). For teachers who like to make up there own instructional materials or who need multiple copies of a text for an instructional group, here is a resource that can meet your needs and keep you from violating copyright law.
Neither of these are commercial sites; both are the work of educational foundations who are trying to do good for teachers and kids… Check ’em out; I think you’ll like them.