Well, you're not alone.
I'm both a middle school teacher AND a middle grade author. Nothing haunts me right now like the CCSS.
But as an author--especially if you write picture books, nonfiction, or middle grade fiction--the Common Core can be an opening for you. First of all, teachers are LOOKING for new resources. And for the first time in years, there are funds to buy them.
One of the buzzwords associated with the Common Core Language Arts standards is the concept of "anchor texts." An anchor text is a rich piece of literature or an engaging piece of text that a teacher can use as the centerpiece for bringing in other related resources (called text sets), which students then read, analyze or synthesize to create something else: a piece of writing, a debate speech, a Socratic discussion, a PowerPoint presentation.The number of texts in a set can vary; what's most important is that the texts are related in a meaningful way so that students can build a body of knowledge around a topic.
Let me throw out an example: we just read Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. This became our "anchor text" for a post-novel study we did on Depression-era train-hopping, Jungles, and railroad "bulls." We looked at an informational article, a poem, an image from the Library of Congress, and an interview from a "hobo." Then, students wrote a journal entry that had to incorporate information from all of those sources while telling about an experience as one of these train-hopping hobos.
Anchor texts can be novels. But they can also be poems, short stories, really engaging nonfiction articles and books . . .pretty much anything. The challenge for teachers is hunting down related sources that can then lead to a writing assignment or project. It's a daunting, time-consuming task in an already daunting time of challenge and change.
So . . . help teachers out. If you think you have a book that could be an anchor text, do some research. What themes or subjects relate to your book? What other resources can you pull in? Publish those links or suggestions on your website. Better yet, create a Teacher's Guide with an assignment ready to go.
And if you need help, email us, and we'll check your book out and tell you if it's feasible. This is what we DO.
For a sample of a Performance Task that involves the book CHAINS (by Laurie Halse Anderson) check out our Sample Guides page. Click on CHAINS and scroll to the end of the our Teacher's Guide where you'll find that Performance Task. You'll see how we incorporated the novel, as well as some other primary sources to give students the basis to write a persuasive essay.