Greenwald, Tommy. 2011. CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING. Ill by J. P. Coovert. New York: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 9781596436916 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]
Charlie Joe, a smart, self-effacing and endearing middle school underachiever, will go to any length NOT to read a book. This chronicle of his efforts to write the dreaded 7th grade Position Paper without actually cracking a book involves the strategic use of friends, cliques, deception, and romance. Revelations at the school dance demolish these well-laid plans, and Charlie has to choose between two punishments that truly fit the crime. Reading tips (“Never read a book by someone whose name you can’t pronounce”) interspersed throughout the book contribute to Charlie Joe’s case against reading and to the reader’s enjoyment.
Written in first person, Charlie Joe’s keen observations on middle school life are both hilarious and insightful. Clever line drawings and the 25 exclusive non-reading tips contribute to the story’s humor and energy. Avid and reluctant readers alike should find Charlie Joe’s account of his middle school year a thoroughly enjoyable story.
Think of book trailer possibilities! Divide readers into small groups and assign the task of creating a book trailer. Provide instructions on designing book trailers and sites to help with the design and music. Use the trailers as a reading promotion tool.
Other humorous books about middle school life:
Angleberger, Tom. DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK: AN ORIGAMI YODA BOOK.
Korman, Gordon SCHOOLED. ISBN 9781439581711
Peirce, Lincoln. BIG NATE: IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF. ISBN 9780061944345
By Susi Parks Grissom