KNOWHOW Educational Writing Part 3: Home Learning


In the third part of this KnowHow series, Lynn Huggins-Cooper is sharing her expertise on educational publishing and how you can open up a new world of possibilities.

Have you ever bought those 'Home Learning' books – those ‘fill it in’ activity books which are used by parents, tutors and teachers to encourage children to learn in a fun way? At one time, they were the mainstay of my published work. Many years ago (possibly when God was a child) I was a fresh-faced primary school teacher, and I answered an advertisement in the TES asking for teachers to apply to write books of lesson plans. I was delighted to get offered a job, and found that what they wanted was someone to write home learning materials, a growing area of the publishing market at the time.


I had a ball! As time went on, these books became more and more fun to write (and hopefully use!) with full colour illustrations and engaging narrative or character elements. My favourite to write were the series that featured Wizard Whimstaff and his pink dragon Miss Snufflebeam for Letts (subsequently Harper Collins). 

These highly popular and perennial books are often the ‘bread and butter’ of an educational writer’s work. 

Cover of Little Wizard's English

Activity and home learning titles are usually commissioned in series, and this can mean a lot of work – but also, the potential to earn more too. This is a thorny subject: when I began writing these books, terms were always advance plus royalties; today they are usually on a (low) flat fee basis. Considering the huge numbers that these books sell, and for how many years (some still earn me royalties today) that is unfair – but writing colleagues say that the publishers rarely budge on this one.

Covers of First Alphabet, First Numbers and First Counting

Don't let that put you off though – it's a great way for teachers to earn extra money, and can give you an impressive platform quite quickly. Also, despite the fact that major publishers do not pay royalties, many indie publishers will, and these books can still sell well. You can also self publish of course and many educational writers do this successfully.

So, where do you fit in? Ask yourself:

  • What are my areas of strength in the curriculum?
  • Which age range could I write for?
  • What are my passions?
  • What would I love to write about?
  • Why am I the person to write these books? 
  • What are my qualifications and what experience do I have in teaching?
  • Why should an educational publisher commission me?

Write some notes for these questions – next month we'll look at writing a covering letter to send to educational publishers large and small, seeking 'writing for hire' work – working on their concepts to get your foot in the door!

Cover of KS2 Science Success Guide

What ideas can I generate for educational publishing?

Now look around at what's on the market already. Look at the ways they are planned and set out. Mind map a concept for a series of ‘Learning at Home’ books. 

Ask yourself:

  • What is my concept for a home learning book?
  • Do you have characters, and a ‘story’?
  • Is the book to cover a certain area of learning (a subject area) or is it more topic based and cross curricular?
  • What will it look like? What sort of art do I have in mind?

Again, write notes for all of these questions. Next month, I'll show you how to use that to create a page plan for one title and in turn, use that to create a template. We’ll also talk about issues to consider such as tone and word levelling, and creating resources that are fit for purpose.

See you soon!

*Header image: In-house collaboration between Ell Rose and Tita Berredo


Lynn Huggins-Cooper has written everything from picture books and MG series to YA novels. She has also written for children’s TV series, comics, websites, and as a features writer for the Times Educational Supplement.

Lynn lectures on the BA (Hons) Creative Writing at Falmouth University

She co-organises SCBWI North-East with Lucy Farfort and lives with her husband in a tiny house next to 900 acres of forest in the far north of England.

Find Lynn on: Bluesky, X (Twitter)Facebook or her Website.


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Follow them on Instagram and X (Twitter) and find their work at

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Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Follow her on Instagram and X (Twitter) or
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