Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving in November. Dickens in December.

    December marks the publication of our second literary classic after The Wizard of Oz. And it marks as well our first cooperative publication with one of America's leading academic libraries.
    The classic
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was first published in a British newspaper, in a serialized format, in 1843. Republished here just in time for Christmas – again in a "serialized," five-part format – our special edition of of the story was carefully prepared by scholars at the University of Virginia Library and has been made available to KBN with their kind permission.
   Teachers not familiar with
A Christmas Carol may wonder if a work with such a religious-oriented title is appropriate for the public classroom. The simple answer is yes, and with its vivid dialog it's a wonderful work to bring to the classroom and share in the form of "readers theater."

    It might come as something of a surprise, but the work is completely focused on the personal moral behaviors of the characters during a traditional holiday season of goodwill, and except for the title does not actually mention anything about religion except, perhaps, the universal principle of charity and caring shared by all of humanity.

   As 2009 moves to a close, more and more registered users are coming to the KBN website as more and more parents, kids, teachers and other educators learn about KBN. And they're giving us some very helpful feedback and new ideas, too.
    For example, beginning in January teachers – and everyone else – will also be able to download many of our books in a convenient powerpoint show format for dramatic classroom projection, so a whole class can enjoy reading together at the same time. The teacher can pace the "page-turning" to the next page just like any on-paper book, to match the readiness of her class to move forward to the next idea in the story.
    And finally, we're beginning to see more and more institutional support as teachers themselves are telling other teachers about our website, and the new opportunities for enhancing literacy and learning in the classroom using the completely free books and materials on the Kids' Book Network.
    Every teacher and educator who has visited and discovered KBN seems to be as excited as we are about our mission – to bring free books to every child in the world.
    And at this special moment of Thanksgiving we wish to thank you all. Thank you for your enthusiasm, ideas and continuing encouragement.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October is National Vileburgers Month and the fun comes with complete lesson plans!

October is always scary if you're a teacher but if you're worried about something really exciting for your class to read you can stop screaming right now.
     According to Kirkus our new KBN action novel The Vileburgers is something like "City Slickers meets Ghostbusters" with an outcome that's "enjoyably ridiculous."
      Bookwire, on the other hand, describes this heartwarming story of incompetent ghouls as "replete with elements of magic, humor and wit," and categorizes it as a "new Halloween classic ... imaginative adventure ... hilarious cast." We of course appreciate their enthusiasm.

     But there's more – because the movie-style criticism from these reviewers is not entirely accidental. Vileburgers was deliberately written by the author in "scenes" rather than traditional book "chapters," and was written as well in the present tense to add additional immediacy and a certain live quality to the story – just like the experience of sitting in a "movie."
     That also makes it the perfect novel for teachers to use with the literacy development practice known as Readers Theater. So when you locate and download The Vileburgers from its location in the KBN Action Books category you'll also find a very complete series of lesson plans featuring Readers Theater, plus a Bloom's Taxonomy-based book report project and what can only be termed some incalculable fun with Vilemathematics.
     Published by KBN here in three episodes, we hope The Vileburgers adds extra fun to your October!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Would life in a totalitarian state really be so bad?

Would a totalitarian state really be all that bad? Here's an interesting teaching idea for Constitution Week.
     Just download our analysis of this issue from the study in our KBN library of free books which explores the possibly underconsidered advantages of some totalitarian states under the title What If Dogs Ran The World? You'll find it in the picture book section.
     First, let your students read this book and enjoy some of its doggone interesting ideas.
    Next invite your class to look more closely at each proposition in the book – such as that all children with freckles would be named Spot – and ask them to identify which article in the U.S. Constitution might prohibit such a harsh mandate, and why.
     They'll probably learn a lot more about the Constitution and its principles than any other way and have a lot more reading fun, too!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You know, once the new bulletin boards are up the rest looks almost possible.

With the new bulletin boards up, the books back out of their wrapping and boxes and neatly organized by categories in their easily-browsed baskets – science, exploration, art, history, – some favorite posters back up, and the special chair stenciled with the title Author's Chair in its place of honor, Mrs. Uncle Henry's classroom now looks almost ready to take on a new class of 35 students.
      How's it going with you?
      While many teachers are in administrative and planning meetings this week as schools prepare to open their doors after Labor Day, KBN is prepping, too. We're looking for any problem that our site subscribers might encounter with our website, based on the wide diversity of computer platforms and search engines they might be using.
      One problem we've found seems to be registering on the KBN site if you've got a spamblocker on your e-mail. A spamblocker may not let your registration confirmation note from KBN to reach your mailbox.
      To solve that problem just tell your spamblocker to admit any e-mail from Then try your registration again.
      You'll be a KBN registered user, with full access to the free KBN books library, in minutes.
      Problem solved.
      As far as getting those new bulletin boards up, sorry. We'd like to help you there, too, but you're on your own.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Are you ready for this?

Many teachers who discover KBN immediately will be putting up new bulletin boards next week and writing their first day lesson plans. We understand that you will be busy if not overwhelmed.
      You see that blank bulletin board in Mrs. Uncle Henry's own classroom? I'm the aide who will have to stand high up on a wobbly ladder and put all of her new stuff up.
      So let me suggest a way you can have a much better day on day one. Skip the lesson plan on cartesian planetary motions using real planets. Instead, just set up as a favorite on the classroom computers and scratch these instructions on your chalkboard:

1. Organize yourselves into groups of 4 students.
2. Go to, register individually, and look around.
3. Download and print the three simple pages that show you exactly how to make different kinds of KBN books.
4. Then, download the microbook of your choice and make it.
5. Then, download the minibook of your choice and make it.
6. And next do the same with a luxbook.
    All of these books are made with ordinary letter-size paper.

       You may want to assign different groups to make a specific kind of book, so they all don't rush to make the same book, like 100 WORST JOKES OF ALL TIME. Classroom studies show that students race to get this book into their hands before all others. We need to explain why?
       Then, have each specialist group making books show their classmates in the other groups how to make books in each format and size, until everyone can make any form of book. Now maybe if you're lucky, you've reached recess and you can send everyone out to play while you flop on your desk for 10 minutes.
       You might find bookmaking somewhat tedious, personally, but not your students. They love this stuff. That's why, in many cases, it ends up being the students who teach their teachers how to set up something like a powerpoint project. And in fact making KBN books is really very easy. So now we've gotten you through recess. And you're much recovered.
      Next you announce that everyone in class, as registered members of KBN, should download, print, and put together one brand new KBN book that they can take home with them at the end of the day to show their parents, and read to them at home. The books in color are really classy, but it might be cheaper and perhaps strategically smarter to print books for a whole class by printing them only in the black & white versions – permitting your students to color them in themselves with color pencils. Or even to color in later at home.
      Plus, that way you can make printing and assembling a KBN book in color a special prize for turning in a super book report or doing anything else for which you might want to acknowledge award-level behavior or socially-responsible performance. Something which otherwise might receive a star.
      At this point it's probably time for lunch.
      So what should you do after lunch? Why, you should form reading circles and all read books together, of course. Then talk about the ideas encountered in the works, and maybe everyone writes an initial book report.
      While you stand up on a ladder trying to finish those bulletin boards.
      Let me know how it goes, will you?