Workman Reading Guides & Lesson Plans

Reading Guides & Lesson Plans

Bring our books into the classroom or lead a reading group with guidance from our reading guides and lesson plans.


Picture Books

The ABCs of Black History

B is for Beautiful, Brave, and Bright! And for a Book that takes a Bold journey through the alphabet of Black history and culture. Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy.

Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz

Every day, children in migration are detained at the US-Mexico border. They are scared, alone, and their lives are in limbo. Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz shares the stories of 61 these children, from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Mexico, ranging in age from five to seventeen—in their own words from actual sworn testimonies. Befitting the spirit of the project, the book is in English on one side; then flip it over, and there’s a complete Spanish version.

Middle Grade

The Presidents Decoded

Ever wonder what the President does? Meet the 45 people who have held the job in this important book that showcases how they each led the country in their time—and features their own thoughts and words through their documents, letters, diaries, speeches and so much more.

African Icons

Black history begins thousands of years ago with the many cultures and people of the African continent. Through portraits of ten heroic figures, author Tracey Baptiste takes readers on a journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose vision built a continent and shaped the world.

The Constitution Decoded

Ever wonder why the president has a Cabinet? Why there’s such thing as trial by jury? Why someday you’ll have to pay income tax, or why there are no Dukes, Duchesses, Counts, or Countesses in the United States? Because the Constitution says so––and so much more. And now, in The Constitution Decoded, the ideas, concepts, and rules that make America are unpacked and explained in detail to help all of us, kids and parents too, become more informed citizens.

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Weird, Wild Names

A fascinating illustrated compendium featuring over 70 curious animal species with bizarre, baffling, and just-plain-funny names, The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Weird, Wild Names will introduce kids to animals such as the Waxy Monkey Tree Frog, the Fried Egg Jellyfish, the Sparklemuffin Peacock Spider, and many more. While the names of these creatures are undeniably curious, the heart of this book is their just-as-curious habits, appearances, abilities—and the stories of how they acquired their unusual monikers. A book sure to delight animal-lovers and liven any STEM-based library collection, this educator’s guide will prompt students to think like a scientist and consider classification, etymology, and how people interact with animals through discussion questions, writing prompts, and a multiple choice quiz.

The Heart of a Boy

Prompted by #metoo, school shootings, bullying, and other toxic behavior, there’s a national conversation going on about what defines masculinity and how to raise sons to become good people. And Kate T. Parker, author of the bestselling Strong Is the New Pretty, is joining the conversation by turning her camera lens to boys. The Heart of a Boy is a deeply felt celebration of boyhood as it’s etched in the faces and bodies of dozens of boys, ages 5 to 18 showcasing their many different talents, strengths, and definitions of boyhood. This discussion guide helps teachers and their students to have a conversation around the many different ways a boy can be a boy and what it means to be creative, vulnerable, independent, and kind no matter what your gender.

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

The team behind the #1 bestselling Atlas Obscura presents a kid’s illustrated guide to 100 of the world’s most mesmerizing and mysterious wonders, both natural and manmade, in 47 countries and on every continent on earth. Travel the world through common points of interest, from strange skeletons (Trunyan Cemetery in Indonesia leads you to India’s Skeleton Lake, for example) to wild waterfalls (while in Zambia visit the Devil’s Swimming Pool – and then move on to Antarctica’s Blood Falls) to ice caves to bioluminescent wonders.

Brain Quest Workbooks

Aligned with Common Core State Standards and expertly vetted by award-winning teachers, the Brain Quest Workbooks are designed to appeal to kids’ natural curiosity, with interactive layouts and easy-to-follow explanations that take the intimidation out of learning.

The Big Fat Notebook Series

For every middle school kid who has ever whispered, “Hey—can I borrow your notes?” there is the Big Fat Notebook series, a revolutionary study guide series created by the editors of America’s #1 educational bestseller Brain Quest. Each indispensable study guide is like getting to borrow the notebook of the best student in class, with highlighted key concepts, doodles that illuminate tricky ideas, mnemonics, and more.

Choosing Courage

In partnership with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, CHOOSING COURAGE contains 26 true stories of character, selflessness, and heroism about Medal of Honor recipients. Great for fans of Steve Sheinkin!

How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000

From the creators of Biz Kid$ and Bill Nye the Science Guy, here is a comprehensive guide for kids to the basics of earning, saving, spending, and investing money. Written in a humorous but informative voice that engages young readers, it’s the book that every parent who wants to raise financially savvy and unspoiled children should buy for their kids.

Leaving China

In a unique memoir comprising more than fifty watercolor paintings and accompanying text, award-winning artist and New York Times bestselling author James McMullan explores how his early childhood in China and wartime journeys with his mother influenced his whole life, especially his artwork.

Passenger on the Pearl

The page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history.

World Without Fish

Bestselling author Mark Kurlansky offers a riveting, illustrated, narrative nonfiction account for kids about what’s happening to marine life, the oceans, and our environment, and what kids can do about it. World Without Fish has been praised as “urgent” (Publishers Weekly) and “compelling” (The New York Times) and has been included in the New York State Expeditionary Learning English Language Arts Curriculum.


Picture Books

The Arlo Needs Glasses and Beautiful Oops! Lesson Plans for Pre-K and Up

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Arlo is a shaggy, free-spirited dog who loves to play catch, until one day he can’t. He needs glasses! This lesson plan includes a simple template for making and decorating Arlo and his glasses—perfect for a large group of students. Celebrate mistakes with Beautiful Oops!, an interactive picture book that shows kids it’s not just OK to make a mistake, but a mistake can be something wonderful. Kids learn to avoid self-criticism and make original art from “oops.”

This is Me

A picture book that explores and celebrates identity and where our families come from—from the New York Times bestselling team of Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell.

Chapter Books

Skunk and Badger

Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake with full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen. Skunk and Badger is a book you’ll want to read, reread, and read out loud . . . again and again.

The Kids in Mrs. Z’s Class series

Both sweetly poignant in its attention to kids’ worries and friendships and laugh-out-loud funny in its storytelling, with black-and-white illustrations throughout by Pura Belpré Honor artist Kat Fajardo, join The Kids in Mrs. Z’s Class in this brand-new chapter book series.

Three Ring Rascals: The Show Must Go On

Three-Ring Rascals is the first series for newly independent readers from Kate and M. Sarah Klise (Regarding the Fountain, 43 Old Cemetery Road series). In their trademark style bursting with humor and wordplay complemented by illustrations, documents, and graphics, The Show Must Go On! introduces a cast of talking animals in the friendliest and funniest family circus in the world.

Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea

In the tradition of The Wind in the Willows, Stuart Little, and Poppy come two cat brothers whose curiosity about the world and passion for adventure takes them on a journey from their harborside home to see places and creatures beyond their wildest imaginings. Black-and-white line drawings illustrate each chapter.

Middle Grade

The Ogress and the Orphans

Award-winning, bestselling author Kelly Barnhill tells the tale of Stone-in-the-Glen, a once-lovely town that has since lost its library and its neighborliness. The townspeople rely on their Mayor, a dazzling fellow who assures his constituents that he alone can help. When one of the children of the local Orphan House disappears, the Mayor casts blame on the kindly Ogress who lives on the outskirts of town. Now the children and Ogress must work together to heal their broken town.

Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries, Books 1-4

As a young woman growing up in the Victorian era, Irrepressible Amateur Detective Myrtle is often told that “Young Ladies of Quality” do not ask too many questions, sneak into people’s gardens to measure muddy footprints, or talk about murder! Despite these expectations, Myrtle finds herself embroiled in case upon case in this Edgar ® Award-winning series. Armed with her powers of Observation and investigative toolkit, Myrtle must solve the case and save the day!

Myrtle, Means, and Opportunity: Myrtle Hardcastle #5

In the fifth and final book of the Edgar Award-winning series, Myrtle Hardcastle uncovers a string of murders during a treasure hunt on a haunted Scottish estate.

Don’t Check Out This Book!

Is the sweet town of Appleton ripe for scandal? Consider the facts:

  • Appleton Elementary School has a new librarian named Rita B. Danjerous. (Say it fast.)
  • Principal Noah Memree barely remembers hiring her.
  • Ten-year-old Reid Durr is staying up way too late reading a book from Ms. Danjerous’s controversial “green dot” collection.
  • The new school board president has mandated a student dress code that includes white gloves and bow ties available only at her shop.

Sound strange? Fret not. Appleton’s fifth-grade sleuths are following the money, embracing the punny, and determined to the get to the funniest, most rotten core of their town’s juiciest scandal. Don’t miss this seedy saga!

Catch You Later, Traitor

From Newbery Medalist Avi comes the thrilling and suspenseful story of an ordinary American family that falls under suspicion in 1950s New York. When twelve-year-old Pete Collison is labeled a communist by his teacher, he sets out to discover the truth about his family.

How to Become a Planet

This summer, when Pluto’s turning thirteen, is different. Pluto has just been diagnosed with depression, and she feels like a black hole is sitting on her chest, making it hard to do anything. When Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move to the city—where he believes his money could help her get better—Pluto comes up with a plan to do whatever it takes to be her old self again. If she does everything that old, “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom. But it takes a new therapist, new tutor, and new (cute) friend with a plan of her own for Pluto to see that there is no old or new her. There’s just Pluto, discovering more about herself every day.

Kids on the March

Powerfully told and inspiring, Kids on the March shows how standing up, speaking out, and marching for what you believe in can advance the causes of justice, and that no one is too small or too young to make a difference.

The Jumbies

When eleven-year-old Corinne stumbles into the forest on her Caribbean island home, she rouses a jumbie—a malevolent spirit—who emerges to wreak havoc. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and use ancient magic to stop the jumbie and save the island.

The One Safe Place

In a near-future dystopia with echoes of The Giver and Among the Hidden, Tania Unsworth has created an unsettling page-turner—fast-paced, filled with dread—that’s wholly satisfying, and startlingly original.

The Time Fetch

A middle-grade fantasy in the vein of A Wrinkle in Time and When You Reach Me, Amy Herrick’s story begins when Edward picks up what he thinks is a rock—but is really a Time Fetch—and causes a dangerous time rip. Only Edward and a band of three mismatched classmates who have touched the Fetch can see what is happening, so it’s up to them to repair the entire fabric of space and time.

The Unbelievable FIB

In Adam Shaughnessy’s debut, the first in an adventurous new series, 11-year-old Pru and her classmate ABE—with help from an uncommonly rude squirrel and the enigmatic Mr. Fox—must save their town from being destroyed by battling Norse gods. But first they have to find the lost Eye of Odin.

The Witch’s Boy

“A lightning bolt erupted from the cloud and aimed directly at Ned’s heart. He couldn’t cry out. He couldn’t even move. He could just feel the magic sink into his skin and spread itself over every inch of him, bubbling and slithering and cutting deep, until he didn’t know where the magic stopped and he began.”

Young Adult


Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Beastly Bones

In this highly anticipated sequel, Abigail and Sherlockian detective of the supernatural Jackaby follow a trail of mysterious murders from New Fiddleham to nearby Gad’s Valley. There they are reunited with exiled police detective Charlie Caine, and the three race to find the culprit before more lives are lost.

Clever Creatures of the Night

In this gripping literary horror, Case’s best friend Drea goes missing, forcing her into a bizarre, cultlike—and possibly murderous world—perfect for fans of The Honeys and Mexican Gothic.

Tigers, Not Daughters

In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award-longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Hit Count

Acclaimed author Chris Lynch explores the American love affair with football and our attempts to come to terms with the dangers of the sport through Arlo Brodie, a teen who loves being at the heart of the action on the football field, getting hit hard and hitting back harder.

If You’re Lucky

After Georgia’s brother, Lucky, drowns in a surfing accident, a charming stranger comes to town for his funeral. As Georgia seeks the truth about what really happened to Lucky and her suspicions about the stranger grow, the line between Georgia’s increasingly fragile mental state and reality begin to blur.

If You Could Be Mine

In Iran, it’s a crime punishable by death to be gay. Sex reassignment surgery is covered by the government health program, though, and regarded by many as a way to fix a “mistake.” Sahar, seventeen, has been in love with her best friend, a girl named Nasrin, since they were six. Sahar even lets herself dream that one day they might marry. But when Nasrin’s parents announce her arranged marriage will take place in a matter of months, Sahar must decide just what lengths she’ll go to for true love.

Somebody Up There Hates You

Richie is a normal seventeen-year-old—except he’s in hospice care. The end of his story is clear, but the people who love Richie want to keep him alive as long as possible. Richie wants to live as much as he can till the end. Oh, and there’s a fifteen-year-old girl named Sylvie across the hall. Somebody Up There Hates You is smart, funny, painful, and bawdy—with no holds barred.

Summer of Letting Go

Four years ago, Francesca’s little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca’s the one who should have been watching. Now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Then she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon. Is it possible he’s Simon’s reincarnation?

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual.

The Walls Around Us

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one dead. Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.


Can two cousins on opposite sides of the Cold War and a divided city come together when so much stands between them? Set in the tumultuous year leading up to the surprise overnight raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, and illustrated with dozens of real-life photographs of the time, Walls brings to vivid life a heroic and tragic episode of the Cold War.