On September 17, Workman Kids will launch a new series of Brain Quest: Learn to Write workbooks, for children ages three and up. The program starts with three titles: Letters; Numbers; and Pen Control: Tracing, Shapes, and More, which teaches the skills that are prerequisites for writing letters and numbers. As with all Brain Quest content, the books are reviewed by the Brain Quest Advisory Panel of teachers and educational experts.
The books represent a new way to teach handwriting and penmanship, according to Alisha Zucker, senior editor, children’s books at Workman. “Handwriting is hard,” she said. “We want our books to be as interactive and supportive as a workbook can be.” Dividing the process into three titles, for example, allows for more time and space to practice the concepts than is typical for other workbooks on penmanship.
Another difference is the look. “They’re illustrated by picture book illustrators,” Zucker said. “They’re rich and beautiful in a way most workbooks aren’t.”
“The pandemic really exposed how valuable good handwriting is,” she noted. As students, parents, and teachers moved to a digital environment and stayed there, “handwriting got left behind, and parents have noticed that their kids’ handwriting is messy and imprecise.” This is especially true for students who experienced the lockdowns in kindergarten and first grade. “If you don’t learn it then, it’s hard to back up when you’re older and the ways are more engrained.”
Also new for the Brain Quest brand is an expansion of the My First Brain Quest board book series, which launched in January and marked the brand’s entry into the baby and toddler market. Three new titles for ages up to four, debuting on September 17, are First Words: Community Helpers; Feelings; and Opposites. These join the six initial titles: First Words: Around the Home; First Words: Science Around Us; ABCs; 123s; Colors; and Shapes.
The first round of My First Brain Quest got positive feedback from parents and caregivers and especially from libraries, Zucker said. The new titles, like the originals, include a series of questions related to the concept or skill on each page, which gives adults guidance on how to reinforce the learning and makes the reading experience different each time. And the illustrations are a reflection of all readers. “They’re diverse in every way,” she said. “They did a good job of sharing the wide variety of kids that are out there.”
The launches of My First Brain Quest and now the Learn to Write workbooks are part of the year-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of Brain Quest. Other initiatives have included a redesign of the workbooks and smart cards, which debuted in May, and a website, BrainQuest.com, featuring supplemental material for kids and an educators’ page to come. All told, the Brain Quest franchise has more than 56 million copies in print.