Boost your book - tips from Beth Overmyer

A warm welcome to fellow MuseItYoung author Beth Overmyer.

This is the third article in a series on books for the teen/tween market, to mark the launch of The Cloud Pearl (Book One: Legends of Liria). Today, the author of In a Pickle shares her tips for boosting your book.

Writing a Teacher’s Guide

Congratulations! You’ve written a book and now you want to make a teacher’s guide to accompany it.

Guides can be a big time-saver for teachers, who have so much on their plates and only so much time (often personal time) to do everything. Entice them to want to use your book in their classroom by making the guide as useful, as creative, and as user-friendly as possible.

Ideally, every teacher’s guide will cover most—if not all—of the subjects taught at that grade level. Curriculum requirements vary from state to state, and different skills and knowledge are needed at each grade. Fortunately, this is the information age, and a search on Google can bring you what you need.

The following are the subjects that my own teacher’s guide covered, along with a few examples of activities for each one. I started out with an introduction and thank-you-for-reading note to the teacher, a table of contents on the second page, and on the next I had a simple summary of my book. After that…

Vocabulary: I went through my book and picked out some of the tougher words and listed them (in alphabetical order) in the guide. The tougher words in my book, I found after a Google search, are for sixth grade and above, so I put a 6th+ in parentheses after the page header. Some words I included: Aghast, bungle, catechism, dredge, and guffaw. The teacher can use this list as homework for the students, having them look up each word’s definition in a dictionary and write them down. In total, I had thirty-two vocabulary words.

What’s What is a continuation of Vocabulary. It’s a match-up quiz with the words on the left and the mixed around definitions on the right. The kids draw a line from each numbered word to their correct (alphabetized) definition, or write the corresponding letter next to the word. In total, I had eighteen different words to match up to eighteen different definitions. The answers came on the next page.

Discussion Questions: The purpose? To get the students thinking about the themes and issues in the story. For example: In a Pickle is about a boy who time-travels, so I asked “If you could time-travel to any year, what year would it be and why?” In total, I had seven discussion questions.

Group Activities/Homework: Fun activities that relate to your book can cover subjects such as art, music, creative writing, and so forth. Example: My book has a description of Charlie Pickle’s family crest, so...“Each student draws a picture of what they’d want their family crest to look like. If you scan the drawings and send them to me, I’ll post them on my blog and/or website” and then I provided a link (for the teacher) to my website, and I listed my email address so s/he could send the materials to me. In total, I had eight activities. (Too few options might leave the teacher with more legwork, and too many might be overwhelming to sort through.)

Memory/Guess Who!: I made up a fill-in-the-blank quiz about different characters in the story. For example: “I am strict and like to keep attendance lists. Someone called me ‘Cranky Pants,’ but I have my more tender moments. Who am I?” In total, I had seven questions. The answers were on the next page.

Memory/What’s in a Story?: For this quiz, I had multiple choice, true or false?, and fill-in-the-blank questions, ten in total with the answers on the following page. For example: “What is Henry’s last name?

A.                 Mud
B.                 Masterson
C.                 Overmyer (trying to keep them on their toes!)
D.                 Stoner”

Fun Facts: The facts can be about how you wrote your story, what inspired it, how long it took to write, etc. Or you could cite facts about the setting of your story (state, city, etc.) or the time (historical facts.) For example: My book was set in Chicago, so…“Some Illinois nicknames: “The Windy City,” “Second City,” “Paris of the Prairie,” “Pride of the Rust Belt,” “City in a Garden,” “City of Big Shoulders,” and “Hog Butcher to the World”3.” And of course I was certain to cite my sources at the bottom of the page: 3 In total, I had nine facts.

Word Scrambles: This is just a for-fun activity to stimulate the brain. There are free programs on the web that can scramble names and words from your story. I opted to scramble them myself. In total, I had ten scrambles with the answers on the following page.

YOU do the Maths: Story problems work well for this, and it’s more fun when one of their favorite characters (or the setting from the novel) is involved. My middle grade novel In a Pickle (ages 9-12) is set in the 1920s America, so…Example: “In the 1920s, ten packs of Wrigley’s gum cost $0.39. In 2010, one pack of Wrigley’s gum cost $1.49. What did one pack cost in the 1920s, and what is the price difference from then and now?” In total, I had five math problems with the answers on the following page.

My teacher’s guide ran 20 pages long, and had the words “Reproducible” typed in the top margin of each page so that the teacher knows that it’s all right to make copies.

So, get your information together, use your imagination, and have some fun!

Pam says:
Thanks, Beth. This is such practical advice, any author of titles for younger readers now has no excuse! Super suggestions, thank you.

Beth Overmyer writes middle grade and young adult books plus the occasional short story. You can visit her at Beth Blogs, view her author site, or contact her via email at


  1. Brilliant post, Beth, thanks - will need to keep those details!

  2. Thanks for this post, Beth. This is really helpful as I need to make a teacher's guide too.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. Have fun writing your guide!

  3. Thanks for walking us through Beth!
    An educational post, and you've made this project seem doable (balking at the math part though...)
    Good luck!

    1. I'm glad to hear that feedback, LR. It is very doable. I actually had a lot of fun doing mine.

  4. It's good stuff, isn't it? Beth makes it seem so straightforward.

    1. Thanks, Pam, and thanks for having me on your blog!

  5. Oh I wish I had this info a year ago when I was struggling with putting together a study guide for my non fiction book for girls. Thanks so much.

    1. I'm sure yours was great, J Q. You're welcome, and happy writing to everyone!


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