Many educational publishers offer much more than a list of books and a chance to order them. Some offer a lot of background about their projects, interviews with authors and biographical information. There are also downloadable resources to supplement textbooks and schemes. A good start is www. achuka.co.uk, an independent British children's books site.
The colourful and inviting presentation provides publishing news, features, information for teens and younger readers (fiction and non-fiction), profiles of 1,250 authors and interviews with more than 50, including Raymond Briggs, Jacqueline Wilson, Allan Ahlberg, Michael Morpurgo and Gillian Cross. A detailed events calendar is also provided and pages feature selected new titles, sorted by subject.
Delray is a specialist science fiction imprint of Random House (www.randomhouse.com delrey). The site includes plenty of information about featured books, and authors write about their backgrounds and explain how they came up with ideas. There are reader reviews, an online writing workshop and other resources. A good selection of links to official author sites is also provided. The HarperCollins site, www.fireandwater.com, offers good reviews of many of its children's titles and every week a selection of authors talk about their work. These interesting articles are archived. Examples include Brian Patten, author of The Story Giant, books of children's verse, novels and poetry, and author of the Mog the Forgetful Cat series, Judith Kerr, who has had a most interesting life since fleeing from Nazi Germany.
The events pages cover author visits to bookshops and details of book festivals. You may like to follow the link to the Collins Education site for free downloads suitable for both primary and secondary ages, across a good range of subjects.
The Longman site (www.longman.co.uk) offers resources such as warm-up activities for primary numeracy, literacy and science as well as supplementary and extension material.
The Paper Tigers site is devoted to books from the Pacific Rim. It (www.papertigers.org) includes detailed interviews with authors and illustrators and has a list of resources sorted by country and by type.
There are also several really good multicultural links on the resources page, although all the featured material is published in English.
Payne-Gallway (www.payne-gallway.co.uk) specialises in ICT books and software. Its site includes useful downloadable teaching resources, such as pupil assignments related to published material - answers are included.
PowerPoint and OHP resources can be accessed, although teachers need to complete a simple registration process first. Student material can be downloaded without registration.
Meanwhile, plenty of author notes and biographies are featured at www.penguin.co.uk. Detailed information about the authors is provided, many of them in their own mini-sites. An example is Sue Townsend. Some of the many author interviews are presented as online videos. The "free stuff" area has competitions and quizzes. The children's section links to information about Spot, Peter Rabbit and others. There are links to Ladybird, Puffin and DK books.
The site includes an events diary and an opportunity to read the first chapter of most of the available books. It also features a good author area, where it is possible to find out more about the work of writers and illustrators. The search box can be used to enter the name of a book or author, and there is also an alphabetical index. How books are made is another interesting area and details of author events, such as book festivals, are also provided.
Other good sites include: Online resources available to reinforce primary materials www.nelsonthornes.com
In-depth set of frequently asked questions about being an author
www.tarakharper.comfaq_auth.htmDownloadable teacher notes, assessment guides and cross-referencing
Jim Merrett is a primary school teacher and education writer