Marcie ColleenWhile Picture Book Month is officially over, the celebration is year-round. And today’s guest, Marcie Colleen, has given all picture book lovers and writers a huge gift — A Teacher’s Guide showing educators how to use picture books in the classroom. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Marcie for creating this terrific resource and making it easier for teachers to use picture books (OUR books) in their classrooms. I’m pleased to be hosting Marcie on this, her last stop on her “Ask the Education Consultant” Blog Hop. Let’s dig right in!

What made you decide to write a teacher’s guide for picture books in general (as opposed to a single book)?

Dianne de Las Casas, founder of Picture Book Month, contacted me about creating a Teacher’s Guide for Picture Book Month.  The goal of the guide was to correlate picture books to the Common Core State Standards.  Sadly, many teachers have to justifyPBMBADGE-AMBASSADOR-FB using picture books in their classrooms, and Dianne wanted to make it easier for educators to integrate picture books into their curriculum.

Of course, I could have chosen a few titles to include in the guide, however, I believe passionately in the genre, as a whole.  I wanted to give argument for ANY and ALL picture books and provide educators with the empowerment and tools to work with any title.  Only then, I felt, would the guide truly be a celebration of picture books and worthy of inclusion on the Picture Book Month website.

Now that the guide is written, how will you spread the word to get it into the hands of teachers? And more importantly, how can we, in the writing community, help get the word out?

November might be over, but picture books should be celebrated year long.

In 2014 I will be launching my Education Consultant end of my business.  Up until now my focus has been on Teacher’s Guides for authors and illustrators.  I will continue this service in the new year. However, I will also be offering workshops, webinars, one-on-one consultations and an upcoming e-book to continue this crusade.

In fact, if you are in the NYC area, I will be making my first appearance of the year at the New York Public Library for the “Children’s Literary Salon: Common Core and Other Delightful Happenstances” on Saturday January 4th.  If you are interested, check out the calendar.  

I am also in the process of creating a 3-part workshop series for a prestigious children’s book store in Manhattan.  More details to come soon.

Follow my blog for information about upcoming events, both in person and virtual, and details on how to book an event of your own!

Also, please consider sharing the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide on your own blog or website for free download.  Spread the word.  Share the love.

Do you think books that have teachers’ guides and/or lesson plans available sell better than those that don’t?

That is a great question.  I can’t speak directly to the sales numbers, however, providing a teacher’s guide and/or lesson plans for a book is definitely one more way to boost the promotion.  The easier it is for teacher to justify the integration of the book into the curriculum, the better the chance of the book finding its way into the classroom.

In fact, one of my clients uploaded the teacher’s guide I created for her onto and last I knew it had been downloaded over 200 times!  Talk about exposure!

Of course, publishers sometimes provide such materials, and if not, there are freelancers, like myself.  However, that does not mean that it is necessary to have a professionally created teacher’s guide and/or lesson plans.  I would suggest each author and/or illustrator decide for themselves.  I am sure many of my clients would be happy to share their thoughts with others.

You’ve written quite a number of teacher’s guides on specific books for individual clients. Do those authors/illustrators find they are able to get more school visits or speaking engagements as a result of having a guide to go along with their books?

Hmmm….sometimes I wonder if this is a chicken and egg scenario. Most of my clients are already very active in promoting themselves in the education world before contacting me for a guide. These clients merely enhance their educational offerings with additional materials.

In my opinion, it’s all about forming relationships. It’s all about starting the conversation. It’s all about being authentic to the kind of author you are. Twitter chats, conferences, speaking engagements, bookstore visits all serve to help you reach readers.  Decide what works for you and go from there.

You are the only person I know who writes teachers’ guides for picture books specifically. Do you think with the Common Core becoming such a “hot topic” among writers that a cottage industry will develop with more people writing teachers’ guides as a service to authors, publishers, etc.?

Interesting thought. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Many teachers these days need to prove they are working with the CCSS with everything they do. And with the increased focus on Reading Levels, kids are “aging out” of picture books more quickly.

If an author and/or illustrator is looking to hire someone to write a teachers’ guide for a book, what qualifications should they be looking for in the person they hire? What questions should they ask to evaluate the services, and should they be involved in contributing ideas or does that just get in the way?

Great question.  As stated in the previous question, the Common Core is a “hot topic” right now.  You want to make sure that the person hired to create the teacher’s guide is not just jumping on a bandwagon and they have the credentials and chops to do it.

1)     Ask for writing samples.

2)     Ask to contact former clients.

3)     Ask for a resume or bio.  It should include prior educational experience in curriculum development and/or classroom instruction.

As for input, I welcome ideas from my clients. I ask for ideas before I start and I also have them look at the first draft so I can have their input.

In one particular case, I provided a draft to the client and they mentioned that they had hoped I would have included a section on bullying…which I had not. Right away I created one.

I want my clients to have a guide that they can be proud of, the guide they want.

In your previous interviews, you’ve advised writers not to worry about the Common Core standards, to write what they want to write and let the teachers teach. Is it difficult for you to follow your own advice since you ARE so familiar with the standards? In other words, is your own writing influenced by the CCSS?

No. THANK GOD! I am able to somehow separate the “Teacher Me” from the “Writer Me”. This is quite a blessing. In fact, I have often wondered what a teacher’s guide for one of my own books would look like.  Hopefully someday I will have the opportunity to hire myself to create one.

What’s next for you with your education consulting business, and how do you balance that with your own writing time?

In 2014 I hope to, as I mentioned earlier, launch a few more services as part of my business.  I would like to provide one-on-one educational consulting, as well as webinars and speaking engagements/workshops. I am also toying with the idea of creating an e-book.

But balance is key.

I admit that it’s easy to ignore my own writing when I am working on something that actually pays money. But, I am a picture book writer first and foremost. It’s all about perspective. My writing is not a hobby. It is not an indulgence. It is who I am. Therefore, it also demands focus.

[Note from Julie: This could quite possibly be the most inspiring statement I’ve ever read on the necessity to write, even if you are not (yet) earning money from it!! Advice I could use to take more of myself.]

Any tips on achieving better balance–that does not involve waking up early or staying up late (I love my sleep)–are welcome.  Please share.

Ha! I wish I had some. If you figure it out, please let ME know! 🙂

Thanks, Julie!

Thank YOU Marcie! I learned so much from reading all of the posts in this series, and I suggest my readers do the same. Here is the full list of Marcie’s stops on her tour.       

Lauri MeyersThurs Nov 7
Jean ReidyMon Nov 11
Darshana KhianiWed Nov 13
Joanne RobertsWed Nov 20
Tina ChoMon Nov 25
Julie HedlundWed Dec 4
In previous chapters Marcie Colleen has been a teacher and a theatre educator, but now she splits her days between chasing the Picture Book Writer dream and chasing toddlers on the playground as a nanny. Both are equally glamorous! Her blog, The Write Routine and her Teacher’s Guides, can be found at www.thisismarciecolleen.comShe lives with her fiancé and their mischievous sock monkey in Brooklyn, NYC.
Categories: Authors, Picture Book Month, Picture Books, Publishing, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,



  1. Great post and excellent resource! I will share it on the Perfect Picture Book page of my blog – the two will complement each other perfectly!

  2. This has been such an instructional bloghop, Marcie. Thank you, and Julie has concluded it with just the right questions!

  3. Thanks, Marcie, for having this blog hop! Best wishes for all your endeavors in 2014! And I agree w/Julie–we’re pb writers first and should focus on that!

  4. Kuddos for trying to get the word out. Sadly, and realistically, it’s not the teachers you need to reach, it’s the legislators and boards of education. I just retired last year, and I can tell you things are getting bleak for the picture book lovers in the classroom. We were given a SCRIPTED reading program to teach! Most of the teachers I worked with knew what damage that was doing to our kids, so we supplemented with after lunch/after recess read aloud sessions. We introduced writing, math, science, and social studies lessons with picture books. When you talk to the teachers, you’re preaching to the choir. We need to address the problem at the top of the food chain. It’s time to organize and influence the change we need!

    • Wonderful points, Juliana. However, in creating this Teacher’s Guide we hope that teachers will be able to use it as a tool to validate what they are already doing. It is created for the teacher’s use, as much as to provide teachers with a document they can provide administrators who might question the validity of PBs. So, although we are “preaching to the choir” it is our hope that this guide can empower teachers to “fight the good fight.”

  5. Kudos to you, Marcie, for all your efforts in this crusade of yours. I am so impressed with your knowledge and expertise! Your picture book teachers Guide is definitely worth sharing! juliana Lee made some good points. I wish you all the best with this business.

  6. Wonderful post, Marcie…a topic (picture books for kids) so close to my heart. As a former kindergarten teacher from back in the 60’s and 70’s when reading picture books to kindergarten and first grade classes did NOT have to be explained or justified, I’m grateful for what you are doing. I agree with Juliana that it is not the teachers, but the administrators and law makers who need their heads examined!!!! 🙂

    I’ve been sharing picture books in kindergarten and first grade classrooms for a couple of years now…but you’ve taken it to a whole new level by creating these teacher guides…so cool. Much continued success to you, Marcie!

  7. Great info. I’ve loved the variety of questions from the different blog hop hosts. Thanks Julie and Marcie.

  8. this is a great post—will definitely refer to it again. thanks to both of you.

  9. Thanks for a meaty interview, Julie and Marcie. I appreciate you sharing your expertise. Good luck with the launch of your Education Consultant business, Marcie.

  10. Great interview! I learned something new in every one of the hops. Thank you Marcie & Julie!

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