Category Archives: Teaching Guides


Posted by | August 5, 2014 | 1 Comment

Need a little dose of positivity and acceptance today? We’re here to help you out!

Watch this trailer for PETE THE CAT AND THE NEW GUY, which is on sale today. We guarantee it’ll make you feel groovy!

And here’s another little bit of grooviness to take with you into the coming school year: a Common Core-aligned teaching guide to all of Pete the Cat’s picture books and I Can Read titles!

“Keep walking along and singing your song. Because it’s all good.”

MIDDLE-GRADE FANTASY (for the beach AND the classroom)

Posted by | July 29, 2014 | No Comments

Looking for some recommendations for a middle grader who loves fantasy? Well, we’ve got just the list for you!

Here are some stellar picks for the kid looking for magical powers, mysterious forests, heros, and villains to take to the beach with him.

The Thickety

THE THICKETY, by J. A. White, is the start of a new fantasy series set in a world where magic is forbidden but exists in the dark woods called the Thickety. This book would be a great recommendation for fans of the Septimus Heap series, and here’s a book talk prepared by librarian, author, and Common Core workshop presenter Kathleen Odean:

How would you like to have the power to summon amazing creatures to do your will? When Kara finds a book in the Thickety, a dangerous forest, it awakens her magical powers. Local villagers view magic as evil but for Kara, it’s a connection to her mother, who was executed as a witch. The spells thrill Kara until the magic starts to change her in frightening ways. Is Kara in control of the magic—or is it in control of her? If she doesn’t figure it out soon, she could lose everyone and everything she loves.

There’s even a Common Core-aligned discussion guide with activities written by the author, J. A. White—an elementary school teacher! (You may not want to send this to the beach, though. Maybe save it for September.)


The Castle Behind Thorns

THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, by Schneider Award winner Merrie Haskell, is a magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that will appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale.

When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. Everything in the castle—from dishes to candles to apples—is torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. To survive, Sand does what he knows best—he fires up the castle’s forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place? With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.

Thinking ahead to the new school year, Common Core applications include: Comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; and analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

The Dyerville Tales

THE DYERVILLE TALES, by M. P. Kozlowsky, tells the story of a young orphan who searches for his family and the meaning in his grandfather’s book of lost fairy tales.

Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

If you’d like to bring this one into your classroom next year, Common Core applications include: Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text; analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone; describing how a particular story’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes; and describing how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw

THE HERO’S GUIDE TO BEING AN OUTLAW, by Christopher Healy, is the hilarious and action-packed conclusion to the acclaimed hit series that began with THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

And Common Core applications for this one include: Explaining how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text; comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; and analyzing how differences in the points of view of the characters and the reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Happy reading!


Posted by | March 3, 2014 | No Comments

The recently-published FOUNDING MOTHERS, by Cokie Roberts, presents the incredible accomplishments of the women who orchestrated the American Revolution behind the scenes.

Founding Mothers

In this vibrant nonfiction picture book, Roberts traces the stories of heroic, patriotic women such as Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, Sarah Livingston Jay, and others through their personal correspondence, private journals, ledgers and lists, and even favored recipes. The extraordinary triumphs of these women created a shared bond that urged the founding fathers to “Remember the Ladies.”

Here are some Common Core objectives that FOUNDING MOTHERS can help meet:

  • Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • Describe the overall structure of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.
  • Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.

And here are some questions you can use and build on for a Common Core-ready lesson:

  1. How does the structure of nonfiction text affect how we understand the material? RI.5.5
  2. What composite structure does the author use to shape events, ideas, concepts and information? RI.5.5
  3. What is the author’s purpose for writing this book? Do you think the author is a reliable source? Discuss. RI.5.8, SL.5.1d, SL.5.4

We’ll be highlighting lots more titles and how they can be used to support the Common Core in the coming months, so be sure to check back often for our Common Core Spotlight feature!


Posted by | February 5, 2014 | No Comments

We’re so proud of our award-winning authors, and we’d love for you to be able to use these great books in your classroom right away (if you aren’t already, of course)! Read on for some teaching resources to help jump-start discussions and lessons centered around these stellar titles . . .

billy miller

penny and her

Here’s a downloadable Kevin Henkes Author Study that includes Common Core-aligned teaching guides for THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER, PENNY AND HER MARBLE, and several more Kevin Henkes titles.


Here’s a downloadable Common Core-aligned discussion guide for Rita Williams-Garcia’s P.S. BE ELEVEN, and one for ONE CRAZY SUMMER, as well.

nelson mandela

Here are a handful of images from NELSON MANDELA that you can use as visual inspiration for lessons or projects on history, politics, biography, or even just to print and hang in your classroom or library.

Mandela image 1
Mandela image 2
Mandela image 3

Don’t forget to check out our Common Core Resources page for lots more teaching guides, discussion guides, lesson ideas, and more!


Posted by | August 28, 2013 | 2 Comments

If you’re familiar with the fabulous Amelia Bedelia chapter book series, then we have some exciting news for you: Chapter Book #3 is now available!

Amelia Bedelia Road Trip!

(If you’re not familiar with the series, which launched at the beginning of the year, be sure to check out the first two books, AMELIA BEDELIA MEANS BUSINESS and AMELIA BEDELIA UNLEASHED!)

And here’s the even-better news: You can download a teaching guide for the whole series, complete with fun reproducible activities and aligned with the Common Core, right here.

Happy school year to those of you who’ve started already, and good luck to those still preparing!


Posted by | August 22, 2013 | 12 Comments

Looking for a fun, interactive picture book to use for story time (or any time)? Christie Matheson’s debut picture book, TAP THE MAGIC TREE, fits the bill perfectly. TAP THE MAGIC TREE combines the magic of the changing seasons with the magic of turning a page as the reader taps, pats, claps, and wiggles to make leaves grow, blossoms bloom, apples appear, and leaves swirl away with the autumn breeze.

Tap the Magic Tree
Here’s a little demo of how much fun can be had with one page turn!

You can have a sneak peek up-close at the first several pages here, and you can download a Common Core-aligned Teaching Guide here. Tap away and make magic happen!


Posted by | May 14, 2013 | No Comments

It’s such fun to see our authors supporting other authors– what a generous and smart crew of talented folks  writing books for children!  An example: Ellen Oh, author of this winter’s fantasy YA-debut PROPHECY, interviews Soman Chainani, author of the just published middle grade debut, SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, on The Enchanted Inkpot today.

Both of these authors are the kind of accomplished, multi-talented people that make us feel a little inadequate (but in a good way, we swear!)– they’re total movers and shakers, and, you heard it here first, doing big things.  Also, they both have terribly snazzy websites and gorgeous author photos!

A little bit more about each of their books…

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PROPHECY, by Ellen Oh

She’s the demon slayer.
She’s the most feared girl in the whole Kingdom.
And now she’s on the run.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings, traitors, and a demon invasion sends Kira on the run with the young prince, who may be the true heir to the Dragon King’s throne, destined to reunite the seven kingdoms. But without the lost treasures, there will be nothing left to reunite. With only the guidance of a cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first in a three book series.

  • Marie Lu, author of the LEGEND trilogy, raved of PROPHECY, “What an adventure! I fell in love with the lush, richly woven world of PROPHECY. Kira is truly a force to be reckoned with. When I finished my journey with her, all I wanted was more. Spectacular!”
  • Watch the trailer for PROPHECY here.


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ChainaniSoman ap1 c



The School for Good and Evil series unleashes a dazzling new fantasy world, one in which ordinary boys and girls are trained to be perfect heroes or perfect villains. Book One subverts the assumed roles of our indelible heroines, when witch-girl Agatha is “mistakenly” sent to the School for Good, and wannabe-princess Sophie to the School for Evil. As rivalries bloom and jealousy sets in, Agatha and Sophie discover that these fates may not be a mistake, after all…

  • Gregory Maguire, author of WICKED, had this to say about THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL: “Invention in overdrive, indulging in a gnarly smackdown of folklore conventions, THE SCHOOL OF GOOD AND EVIL is a comedic education by a writer primed to shoot to the head of the class.”
  • And Entertainment Weekly said this: “If I could bewitch you all to read it, I would.”
  • Download the discussion guide here.
  • And watch the AMAZING trailer here!



Posted by | April 17, 2013 | No Comments

Next week we’re exhibiting at one of our very favorite conferences of the year (shh, don’t tell anybody!)– the Texas Library Association Annual Conference.  If you’ll be there too, we’d love to meet you!  We’re HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #2232, and we have so many fun things to give you!  Galleys, discussion guides, reading kits, smiles, stories– you name it, we’ve got it.



We also have some very very stellar authors at panels and signing in the Author Signing Aisles.  Check it out!


11—12                   Peter Lerangis

11—12                   Chris Rylander

11—12:30           Jon Klassen

12—1                     Bob Shea

1—2                       Patrick Carman
AISLE: 9                                                              

1—2                       Kelley Armstrong

2—3                       Kiersten White

2—3                       Melissa Marr

3—4                       Tera Lynn Childs

3:30—4:30       Amy Krouse Rosenthal



10:30—11:30       Seymour Simon

2—3                       Jarrett Krosocszka

3—4                       Jennifer Archer


We can’t wait!  And none of us have ever been to Fort Worth before, so if you have any recommendations, let us know!  See y’all soon.


Posted by | April 16, 2013 | No Comments

Later this week we’re heading down to one of our very favorite states, Texas, with some star authors, to exhibit at the International Reading Association Annual Conference.

ira logoWill you be in San Antonio too? If so, come visit us at HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451!  We’re going to be giving out oodles of galleys, teaching guides, bookmarks, and other materials– with lots aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Here’s where you can find our authors:


SATURDAY, April 20th

2:00–3:00PM, JANE O’CONNOR, Anderson’s Booth #1003


SUNDAY, April 21st

1:00–2:00PM, WALTER DEAN MYERS, HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451

1:00–2:00PM, JON SCIESZKA, Anderson’s Booth #1003

2:00–3:00PM, SEYMOUR SIMON, HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451


MONDAY, April 22nd

MO WILLEMS IRA Closing Keynote:
“A Hippopotamus Wouldn’t Fit on the Page and Other Reasons that Mo Willems Writes About Pigeons”
Convention Center Exhibit Hall D
Book signing immediately following

12:00–1:00PM, MICHAEL HALL, HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451


Come by our booth and say hello!


Posted by | March 29, 2013 | 1 Comment

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we wanted to be sure that you haven’t missed BRAVE GIRL: CLARA AND THE SHIRTWAIST MAKERS’ STRIKE OF 1909 by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

brave girl

BRAVE GIRL tells the story of Clara Lemlich, a young immigrant girl who led the biggest strike of women workers in U.S. history. The book has received four (!) starred reviews and big praise in the New York Times Book Review, in which they say: “Many schoolchildren today learn about the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire, but they don’t often learn about what precipitated the disaster. Markel’s sympathetic, fact-filled and moving story of a garment worker with gumption rounds out the lesson.”  And we completely agree with their compliments for Melissa Sweet’s artwork: “With her distinctive mixed-media collages, she may have surpassed herself here. And with an inspiration like Lemlich — smart, ambitious, gutsy — it’s easy to see why.”

There are so many terrific topics, themes, and curricular tie-ins in this fantastic picture book. We created an educator guide aligned to the Common Core designed to help you start the discussion, available here.

And starting next week… April is Poetry Month!

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