Big Fat Notebook series

Reviewed by Jonathan Lewis

It’s a bold promise: everything you need to ace math in one big fat notebook. And the promise doesn’t stop at math. There’s a big fat notebook for English language arts, science, world history, and American history.

Welcome to the Big Fat Notebook series from Workman Publishing.

Written for middle schoolers, these aren’t your traditional textbooks. They’re labeled as study guides, so you can expect a condensed overview of the subject matter rather than a comprehensive treatment. That said, they seem quite thorough while also being quick to read—meaning you can brush up on a topic or get an overview relatively easily and quickly.

The fun gimmick behind these books is that each one is the notebook of “the smartest kid in class, double-checked by an award-winning teacher.” In keeping with this notebook theme, the books use a fun, informal layout complete with lined paper, doodles, a font that looks handwritten, highlighted words, and other elements to make the whole thing look like a real notebook. (Okay, maybe not a real notebook—let’s say notebook-ish! The point is, the design is fun and far different than your traditional textbook. Your kids are probably actually going to want to look at these.)

Now, as much as I want to give the Big Fat Notebook series an enthusiastic two thumbs up—because it really is a cool concept and these are very well done—I have to give one big fat caveat first. These books aren’t written from a Christian perspective. This obviously affects certain books (or sections of books) more than others, and there’s a lot of good material here that’s presented in a “just the facts” sort of way. But be aware that you’re likely to find material or perspectives you disagree with, particularly in portions of the history volumes and portions of the science volume. Use your own discretion, either in purchasing these books or in deciding how to use them once you’ve got them. You also don’t have to purchase the entire series. You can buy only the books you’re interested in and leave the rest.

With that caveat in mind, check out these books if you’re looking for a creative approach to middle school or want a supplement to your existing curriculum. You just might find what you’re looking for in a Big Fat Notebook. 

This review was originally published in the March/April 2017 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Information and availability subject to change without notice.