Teacher Guides. Activity Guides. Academic Guides. Project Guides. Reading Guides. Whatever the reference, offering some sort of supplemental resource like one these has become a standard in book’s promotional package today.
Quality book guides come in all shapes and sizes – from in-depth, historical or scientific studies to light-hearted games and crafting projects. But how can authors, illustrators, and editors begin to know what type of guide best suits their stories and the market? Are reading guides really necessary? Who needs these things, anyway?
Educators need them. Despite curriculum constraints, the fact that a book’s content is rich enough to support a well-crafted guide speaks volumes about the author’s merit. Texas author Cory Putman Oakes tells the story that a principal in California based his decision to book her for a school visit on the Educator Guide created for her middle grade novel. She said the principal set her darling Dinosaur Boy on the desk, began thumbing through the guide, and responded, “When can she come out?” He knew Cory had what it takes to reach his kids. Her guide proved it.
Librarians need book guides. Be it a list of well-crafted discussion questions or a fun packet of useful read-along projects, librarians delight in these tools. They’re perpetually on the hunt for quality, supplemental reading resources. In fact, the first guide I created was a result of a librarian suggesting that author Jennifer Ziegler have one made for her incredible How Not to be Popular – a 2010 IRA YA Choices and Lone Star Reading List winner. Way to go, Jennie!
Lastly, depending on marketing strategies, you need a guide – a quality, well-crafted one. A thoughtful, entertaining supplemental guide highlighting all of the hard work you’ve put into the project. One that leads readers to deeper connection with your story and you. One that demonstrates your book’s potential for lasting appeal to educators, librarians, and all of the important gatekeepers in between.
All this to be said, if your book is one that you hope will have lasting appeal in the school and library market, take a moment to consider your marketing strategy. You just might need to include a reading guide of some kind to entice educators and librarians to take a longer look at your fine work.