Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 27, 2014


WoCCover01A few weeks ago I was out with Darlene Beck Jacobson and she started talking about the work she was doing to develop a curriculum and study guide for her debut book that is coming out in September.

I asked her to share what she was doing with all of you, since we can all learn from each other.  Here is part one of the three part series.


Schools are changing. So are the curriculum requirements. With teachers being squeezed for time and tight budgets limiting purchases of “frivolous” things like fiction for the classroom, what can we writers do to give our books a fighting chance on classroom reading lists?

You can develop a CURRICULM GUIDE and STUDY QUESTIONS to tie into the Core Curriculum Content Standards. For my historical middle grade novel WHEELS OF CHANGE, which takes place in 1908 Washington DC, I developed a curriculum guide on the second wave of the Industrial Revolution. (see attached)

I also did a separate set of Study Questions that tie into Reading and Literature objectives. (see attached) You can do the same thing for your novel…even if it isn’t historical. Begin by generating questions that fit the Reading and Literature sections of the standards. Then look for the universal theme or ideas that would generate good classroom discussions on topics that cover important issues such as war, homelessness, divorce, illness, poverty, prejudice, etc. These topics can be part of Science, Health, and Social Studies units. Fellow writers have even tied their books into art and music areas as well.

You can also develop worksheets, puzzles, games or other reproducible activity sheets that teachers can use in the classroom. Everything you can do to make life easier for a teacher, will help make your book stand out from all the others that cry for attention in the curriculum.

To learn more about Common Core Standards visit:

PART II: Curriculum Guide tomorrow

Darlene Beck Jacobson has loved writing since she was a girl. She also loves bringing the past to life in stories such as WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston Books), her debut novel.    Her stories have appeared in CICADA, CRICKET, and other magazines. Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators. She still loves writing and getting letters. Check out her website at:

WHEELS OF CHANGE is due out on September 22, 2014.

Talk tomorrow,




  1. Terrific pointers, Darlene! Much food for thought. Great post!


  2. Is this something your agent/editor recommended you do, or something you know from experience would make your book more useful to teachers? And I’m wondering…is this something that might be valuable to do before a book is accepted for publication? I’m not suggesting sending it along with a query letter, but if you could mention in the query letter that you have available a curriculum and/or study guide, would an agent or editor perhaps feel more inclined to take a look at your manuscript?


  3. Oh, yay, Darlene’s novel is a-comin’ on the Wheels of Change in the fall! 🙂 Love this post and the suggestions. Can’t wait to see the guide! Thanks, gals 🙂


  4. Thanks Kathy, and thanks for the comments. My editor, Marissa Moss was the one who suggested the Curriculum Guide. She did one for her own MG historical A SOLDIER’S SECRET. I did the study questions on my own as a Q and A discussion guide for the book. We decided to make them downloadable instead, with grade level objectives attached to each. I wouldn’t send the questions in the initial query, but once there is interest, why not? Writing them is great practice.


  5. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Thanks for having me, Kathy.


  6. Great post, Darlene!! Cannot wait to read Wheels of Change!!


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