Saturday, May 31, 2014


The Summer Reading List from the American Library Association includes recommendations for Grades K-8.  The brochures, available in color or black and white, can be customized with the name of your library, summer hours and summer reading programs for children before printing and making copies available to students and parents.
The brochures are specifically for:
Grades K-2
Grades 3-5
Grades 6-8

Summer Reading Ideas for 2014 from the New York Public Library
Find some great books to read this summer:
Babies, Toddlers and Pre-Kindergarten
Grades Kindergarten & 1
Grades 2 & 3
Grades 4 & 5
Middle School
High School
Libros en español para niños, jóvenes y adultos

Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network
Recommend Reading Lists for Preschool to 12th Grade Students

Boston Public Schools
2014 Summer Reading Lists

2014 Notable Children’s Books from the ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children
Younger Readers – Preschool-grade 2 (age 7), including easy-to-read books
Middle Readers – Grades 3-5, ages 8-10
Older Readers – Grades 6-8, ages 11-14
All Ages – Has appeal and interest for children in all of the above age ranges

The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas
Required Reading Lists from PreK to Grade 12
There is a separate list for every grade level, each of which can be downloaded as a PDF. These recommended book lists are from The Kinkaid School, a preparatory day school in Houston, Texas.

2014 Parkway Summer Reading List
This 2014 recommended reading list of fiction and nonfiction for grades 9-12 is from the Parkway School District in Chesterfield, Missouri.

The Horn Book
Picture Books
Early Readers and Younger Fiction
Intermediate (Fiction and Nonfiction)
Middle School (Fiction and Nonfiction)
High School Fiction

 Keep Kids Reading All Summer Long!
Scholastic's Summer Reading Challenge has ideas and reading lists for teachers and parents to keep their kids reading all summer long!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Reading Ideas for All Ages

Summer Reading Ideas
Do you need ideas for new books and authors to read?  Do all the authors you've been reading lately sound the same?  Why not find a new author by checking out one of our recommended sites? Also, by going to the children's web sites below, you can help struggling readers or get a young children started with a lifelong habit of reading.

When I find a good author, I really love to read all the books written by that author, especially if he/she has written books in a series.  Here are some of my favorite web sites for find new books and authors to read. I was a middle school librarian for many years, and I love young adult books as well as adult books.  If you haven't read some of the latest young adult books, you are missing out on some great reads!

For Children, a web site for elementary aged students, from The Book Report, offers book reviews of new titles and a huge collection of books listed by author.  You can subscribe to their newsletter to keep updated with the latest news on books for elementary children.  They have contests and special featured articles, especially for their audience. You can also read about series of books, with a listing and summary of all the books in the series.
Reading Rockets is a web site sponsored by WETA Public Television in Washington.  You can find all sorts of ideas to help children with their reading, such as author interviews, themed book lists, tips for parents, how to help children choose books to read, all about non fiction, summer booklists, holiday booklists, award-winning books, and reading topics from A-Z.  This is a perfect place to find ideas about helping struggling readers, or to get young children reading on their own.
A Book and a Hug is a reading web site run by Barb Langridge, who has a reading-themed television program in Baltimore.  On her web site, she includes author interviews and book recommendations for all ages. Her web site offers recommendations for boys, for girls, by genre, and by reading level, from the very young to mature readers, ages 14 and up.

  For Teens
Teen Reads, also a web site from The Book Report, includes reviews of new titles by title, author, genre, and date.  There is a listing of authors, with a biography about the author, an interview with the author, and a listing of all the books written by the author.  One of my favorite features is the Teen Ultimate Reading List, which lists over 400 titles by genre.  The genres are sub-titled with fascinating descriptions such as "Books to Keep Your Eyes on While Big Brother Keeps an Eye on You," for Dystopian Literature. 
Genres Included
Science Fiction/Dystopian
YA Fiction
Adult Fiction/Classics
Graphic Novels
Historical Fiction

Other features of Teen Reads include "Books on Screen", with reviews of books that gave rise to current movies, plus "Adult Books You Want to Read", with reviews of adult books that are of interest to teens.  Finally, there is a newsletter to which avid readers might want to subscribe.
NoFlyingNoTights, run by librarians and book editors, reviews the latest in graphic publications, and includes anime, manga, plus the categories of action and adventure, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, humor, mysteries and thrillers, non fiction, realism, romance, science fiction, and superheroes.  They have over 45 librarians, book editors, and student editors and reviewers who contribute reviews to the web site. NoFlyingNoTights recommends the best of manga, anime, comics and "must haves" for kids, teens, and adults.  This is THE web site for readers of graphic novels and comics.

For Adults
GoodReads is a great place to keep track of the books you have read, and to find new authors and books to read.  It works a lot like Netflix; you select genres that you like, then you rate books that you have read by giving them a "star" rating and even writing comments if you want.   Once you have a number of books in your book list, GoodReads will offer recommendations for books to read in each of your favorite genres.  As in Netflix, you can rate the books if you have already read them, state that you are not interested in the title, or click the button that says "want to read."  Once you have rated a number of books, you will always have recommendations waiting for you.  The recommended book will include a summary plus reviews by other GoodReads readers.  This is almost as good as having a librarian helping you.  (Can you tell that I'm a retired librarian?)

One advantage of GoodReads is that now you have a place to keep track of all the books you have read, so that you don't buy or check out duplicates needlessly.  GoodReads also has surveys, trivia, quotes of the day, and an ongoing discussion of specific book titles.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Art Resources--June 2014

Have you already planned your trip to the Louvre or d’Orsay museums in Paris or the Prado museum in Madrid, but discovered that you can’t go this June?  Why not go on a virtual trip to the web gallery of art and experience it from your computer or tablet?   You can take one of sixteen guided tours, or you can search by artist’s last name.  You can visit the Web Gallery of Art or The Louvre, plus many amazing art treasures on Infotopia’s Art Resource Pages.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Read, Read, Read--June 2014

 Read, Read, Read

Are you and your students looking for something new to read this June? Try browsing our Books and Authors page on You can find free books to download to your tablet, Nook or Kindle, free audio books, ideas for new authors and books to read, and more.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Favorite Educational Games-June 2014

Summer’s almost here for those of us in the northern hemisphere. We know that those of you in the southern hemisphere such as Australia and New Zealand are back in school and having winter! Here are some ideas for your weekends.  What about a few educational games to take the summer (or winter) blues away? Our favorite educational games are linked from Infotopia and Kidtopia.

Have you played FreeRice? Perfect for middle or high school, students can earn bowls of rice for developing countries through the World Food Programme by practicing vocabulary, grammar, chemistry symbols, geography, or a foreign

Activate your mind with EdHeads. Students in grades 7-12 can perform surgery, rebuild a knee or hip, design a cell phone, or investigate a crime scene. While viewing a video with audio and captions, students make the decisions to accomplish their task. There are teacher’s guides available as well.

One of our favorite games is Draw a Stickman.  Students love this creative drawing game. They are asked to draw a stickman and then as the animated story unfolds, they must draw various objects to help the stickman escape from his perils. This game involves art, reading, and creativity. Students can publish their work for other students to review.

All of our favorite games can be found at:


for Grades K-3 elementary students

Or try creating cartoons or comics with your own imagination. Our favorites are at:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hot Topics--June 2014

Is there a popular topic for which you need resources?  Send us ideas for new topics you need researched!  So far, our "hot topics" include Black History Month, Hispanic Biographies, the Holocaust, Texas History, Decades of U.S. History, Earth Day, Primary Resources, Science Fair Projects, Social Issues, Global Warming, the Atlantic Slave Trade, September 11th, Constitution Day, the Civil Rights Movement, Creationism vs. Evolution, the National Debate Topic, Spanish Language and Literature, College Information, Career Information, and Greek Mythology.  

Check out our Hot Topics at:

Welcome--June 2014

Welcome--June 2014

Welcome to the students, teachers, and librarians of Burnaby, British Columbia!
We’re happy you are using and for your research needs!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Annenberg Learner--Learn on Your Own!

I first discovered Annenberg Learner when I decided to review my French language skills with a wonderful 52 part video series called French in Action produced by Yale University and WGBH in Boston.  It is a story of an American student and a  young Frenchwoman and their adventures in Paris and surrounding areas.   A French language immersion experience supplemented by Dr. Pierre Capretz's delightful review of the vocabulary and phrases in each episode, it is a enjoyable way to learn or review French.  It is appropriate for high school or college students.

French in Action is just one of the many streaming videos available for free on Annenberg Learner, whose mission is to "Advance Excellent Teaching in American Schools."  For three decades, Annenberg has funded and distributed resources for K-12 and college teacher to teach subject and help them to stay up-to-date in their fields.  As a matter of fact, Annenberg offers a number of graduate online courses through Colorado State University for only $294 for a three hour course.  To obtain graduate credit, the learner has to watch all the videos, download support materials and participate in discussion questions, homework and activities for the chosen course.   If you need graduate credit for your teaching credentials, this might be something that would interest you.

Streaming Videos, Supporting Resources, and Professional development are available for the following subjects:  The Arts (art, music, cinema), Foreign Language (French, Spanish, and English), Literature and Language Arts (poetry, novels, news writing, American literature, and more), Mathematics (grades K-12), Science (grades K-12), and Social Studies and History (geography, primary sources, world history, and more). Each subject includes videos from colleges or public broadcasting networks which are appropriate for showing to students to reinforce learning.  Any streamed video may be used in a K-12 classroom at no charge.  Lesson plans are available for many subjects as well.

Learner Express is an anthology of short video segments taken from the Annenberg Learner Collection. You can quickly find short video segments to use in your classroom to augment understanding of certain topics.  Learner Express includes three main topics:  science, math, and language arts.  You can also search for specific topics in the search box at the top right. 

You might also be interested in the Interactive Lessons for students or teachers.  I selected the Spanish interactive lessons to learn the names of vegetables.  With Mike's help (a former Spanish teacher), I was able to correctly identify all the vegetables in Spanish. The lesson read the vegetables to me and I had to match them with a picture.  Interactive Lessons are available in all subjects areas.

*****/5 stars
Recommended for K-12 teachers (and all inspired independent learners)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Free Online Textbooks for K-12 and College Students

I was amazed at the number of free online textbooks that are available on the Internet.  Many of these sites are sponsored by foundations or universities.  The goal is to provide open text sources and modules for free in a variety of subjects.  In some cases, the authors are producing modules that can be interchanged with other modules to design complete textbooks.  Some of the textbooks are black and white, while others are full text with chapters, photographs, charts, and graphs.

I researched more than fifteen web sites offering free textbooks.  Here are the best of the free textbook web sites that I found:

Saylor Academy
Saylor Academy offers dozens of free college and K-12 courses with the resources and readings included.  They hire credentialed professors, teachers, and industry professionals who have previously taught the specific subjects they work on. These consultants, who have attended and have taught at many prestigious public and private institutions, including Princeton, Emory, Harvard, University of Virginia, the University of California system, Carnegie Mellon, and NYU, research and design their courses from start to finish.  You are not required to enroll or register to complete the coursework, but you can use their student ePortfolio system to track your courses and progress.  Also, you can use their textbooks and not follow their coursework.
*****/5 stars
Grades 6-College

The CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit that creates and collects high quality curated STEM (science, technology, and engineering) content and textbooks.  Their material is divided into "Concepts" (if you are learning about a topic) and "FlexBook" Textbooks (if you need a great deal of information about the topic.
The Concepts and Textbooks can be translated into over 80 languages and can be downloaded as PDF, mobi, or ePub.  The topics include the following:  

  • Math (Arithmetic, Measurement, Algebra, Geometry, Probability, Statistics, Trigonometry, Analysis, Calculus) 
  • Science (Earth Science, Life Science, Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
  • More (SAT Exam Prep., Engineering, Technology, Astronomy, English, History )
****/5 stars
Recommended for Grades 6-12+

California Learning Resource Network (CLRN)
The California Learning Resource Network has many free educational materials for teachers, including recommended websites, apps, handouts and worksheets, including the learning standards.  However, they also link to 31 free textbooks in PDF format.  The textbooks topics include trigonometry, algebra, calculus, geometry, probability, statistics, chemistry,  light and matter, biology, earth science, climate dynamics, and U.S. History. Downloaded in a few seconds, the Life Science textbook in PDF has the same appearance as a regular print textbook with charts, graphs, illustrations, chapters, and is 950 pages long!

****/5 stars
Not searchable
Recommended for Grades 9-12

The College Open Textbooks Collaborative  

The College Open Textbooks Collaborative, composed of twenty-nine educational non-profit and for-profit organizations, and affiliated with more than 200 colleges, is focused on making instructors aware of open textbooks and promoting adoptions of open textbooks for students.

College Open Textbooks has peer-reviewed more than 100 open textbooks for use in community college courses and many more are awaiting review. Many textbooks can be downloaded and used offline and many are available as WikiBooks online.  Their books are available in a wide range of subjects, as indicated below.
Anthropology and Archeology               
Biology & Genetics               
Computer Science               
Engineering & Electronics               
English & Composition               
Health & Nursing               
Languages and Communications
Political Science
Statistics & Probability

Please note that some eTextbooks are actually for sale on this website, but the price is very reasonable. The U.S. History textbook that I reviewed was $16.95 for the eBook, $35.23 for a black and white bound copy, and $66.35 for a color bound book.

Note:  Some of the starred (*) books link to IIP Digital (  I noticed that once you get to this site, you can need to enter the name of the textbook in the search form and then you can find the textbook easily.  The starred books have been peer reviewed and you can easily read the reviews of these texts.
****/5 stars
Recommended for College Students 

OpenStax CNX
Founded in 1999 by a professor from Rice University, OpenStax has the mission of providing authors and learners with a place to share and adapt educational materials   Except where otherwise noted, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.  There are tens of thousands of learning modules, that are organized into thousands of textbook-style books in a variety of subjects, all easily accessible online and downloadable to almost any device, anywhere, anytime.  OpenStax encourages authors to write modules that can stand alone or be combined with other modules by different authors.

****/5 stars
Recommended for Grades 9-College 
Global Text Project   
Initially funded by the Jacobs Foundation, The Global Text Project includes dozens of open content electronic textbooks that are freely available.  Their goal is to make textbooks available to the many who cannot afford them.

****/5 stars
Grades 9-College

Project Gutenberg 
Project Gutenberg offers over 45,000 free ebooks in a variety of formats from Kindle format to ePub, or they can be read online.  This is your best source for titles that are in the public domain such as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare or On the Origin of Species by Darwin. This is a website that should be bookmarked on your computer or tablet for easy access.
*****/5 stars
Grades 1-College

Wikibooks is a collection of more than 2,700 open-content textbooks that works much like Wikipedia.  The topics include
Social Sciences

According to Wikibooks, this “site is used for developing textbooks, textbook-like books, and supporting book-based instructional materials (i.e. annotated texts such as on the Works of Shakespeare with aids for reading and study, for example, or extensive book summaries). In particular, discussions on talk pages should be directed at improving modules.” 

In my opinion, if you can’t find a textbook in any of the other recommended free online textbook web sites, I would definitely try Wikibooks.  It appears that authors are being very responsible  in editing these textbooks to make information available to those who need quick access to information or who cannot afford printed textbooks.
****/5 stars
Grades K-College