“Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Reading” by Tommy Greenwald

charlie joe jackson 2
This funny YA novel is narrated by a reluctant (to put it mildly) reader about avoiding reading. It’s sure to appeal to most reluctant readers. Readers find out toward the conclusion of the book that Charlie Joe is writing during his summer vacation as a punishment for an elaborate plan he created to avoid reading. Charlie Joe includes “useful” tips to help other students avoid reading. In addition to his strong dislike of reading, young readers will find plenty with which to relate. Charlie Joe walks us through his sixth grade year, with all its usual middle school theatrics. This is similar to the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, yet with enough differences to make it worth suggesting it to students who read “Wimpy” kid books, but need to move on.
My only complaint about this book is that it is the most “non-multicultural” book I’ve read in awhile. From his descriptions, it’s easy to infer that Charlie Joe is upper middle class and his school, while public, is one of those well-funded suburban schools. Charlie mentions Chinese students once. I couldn’t help but wonder if the students were really all Chinese, or a diverse population of Asian Americans. There’s no rule that all novels need to be multicultural, so let’s just call this my disclaimer.

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