As much as I love Google and (gasp!) Wikipedia (at times), at work I sometimes have to struggle to get students out of the habit of using them for research. Bethel College library's comparison chart for databases vs. search engines is a wonderful, at-a-glance resource for helping students and families understand when it is appropriate to use each one. I copied the link to my library catalog's home page as a reference for the school community.
World Book and Brittanica are my two go-to online resources for teaching research skills to students. I also have them used the vetted web sites that can be found through a subject search in our library automation system. Gale's Kid InfoBits looked like it would be a good addition to my list of favorites, so I explored that. Overall, I liked the database. It has a kid-friendly interface, is easy to navigate and provides many built-in scaffolds for students. Students can read the articles, listen to the articles being read and translate the articles into other languages. The latter is of particular importance for our students as for many of them, English is not their first language. Articles can be downloaded as text or as an MP3 audio file. Students can highlight text and MLA citation formats are given for articles.
Students can search by clicking on a grid of topics on the home page, or by typing a topic in the search bar. Results come from a variety of sources, depending on the topic. I initially clicked on Animals>Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Animals>Extinct Birds>Dodo Bird and was led to an article about the bird, along with a picture of a model of the Dodo. Returning to the home page, I selected People>Jobs and Careers>Librarians (of course!). Results included photographs, book excerpts and encyclopedia, magazine and newspaper articles. One caveat: while the result for Dodo bird was relevant for student research, not all of the hits for "Librarian" were. For example, the CNN Wire article, How a Librarian Taught Herself to Invest and Retired Early, while interesting, would not be particularly helpful for students researching library media science as a career. However, it does present an opportunity to teach students how to evaluate the relevance of the information they uncover in their research. Kid InfoBits will become another mainstay in my research work with students. It is very similar to World Book Online, with which they are familiar.
I also looked at Gale's New York State Newspapers database, and was a bit disappointed. Twenty-six publications are included and I was hoping for more. Additionally, the publications I looked at didn't go back as far as I would have hoped. The New York Times has full-text articles dating back only to 1965. Many other newspapers go back less than twenty years. To supplement this database, I would add New York State Historic Newspapers, nyshistoricnewspapers.org.