The Center for Media Literacy distributes a free curriculum for parents and teachers (it is accessible in a comprehensive pdf or by searching for particular themes/activities). They organize their activities around 5 key questions / 5 core concepts :
#1 Authorship All media messages are "constructed." Who created this message?
#2 Format Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
#3 Audience Different people experience the same media message differently. How might different people understand this message differently from me?
#4 Content Media have embedded values and points of view. What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in; or omitted from, this message?
#5 Purpose Most media are organized to gain profit and/or power. Why is this message being sent?
The Media Education Foundation has films that can be used in a professional development or middle/high school setting and a great list of Media Literacy links to help us make advertising visible to kids and ourselves.
Hardy Girls, Healthy Women -- an organization co-founded by Lyn Mikel Brown (co-author of Packaging Girlhood) has another great list of links
Parents Guide from Children's Advertising Review Unit
The Kaiser Family Foundation provides some of the best research on media in our lives.
Finally, a huge list of links is offered by Arizona State University's Commericalism in Education Research Unit (interesting research here, as well)
For Kids :
PBS Kids has a "Don't Buy It" page for kids, with resources for teachers and parents. I have mixed feelings about the increasing corporatization of PBS -- advertising occurs between shows but, more problematic for me, is the placement of PBS characters on cereal boxes, toothbrushes, etc. This is viral marketing at its best and seems hypocritical. Nevertheless, the site has some good ideas and resources.
I have not found any good books, for kids, on this topic -- if anyone has suggestions, please comment!