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Cover image for Charlie Joe Jackson's guide to not reading
Charlie Joe Jackson's guide to not reading

First edition.
New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2011.
Physical Description:
220 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Series title(s):
Middle schooler Charlie Joe is proud of his success at avoiding reading, but eventually his schemes go too far.
Program Information:
AR 5.4 5.0.

Accelerated Reader Level 5.4.

Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.4 5.0 145114.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.4 9 Quiz: 54728 Guided reading level: S.


Call Number
Greenwald, T.

On Order



Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he's managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he's in middle school, avoiding reading isn't as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he's tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he'll go to get out of reading a book.

Author Notes

TOMMY GREENWALD has enjoyed reading all his life, which is why he's appalled that his kids Charlie, Joe and Jack, would prefer getting a dental check-up to checking out a book. After years of pleading, threatening, and bribing, Tommy finally decided the only way to get his kids to read was to write a book about how to get out of reading. This is the result. And they read it! (So they say.) The Executive Creative Director at SPOTCO, an entertainment advertising agency in New York City, Tommy lives in Connecticut with his wife, Cathy; his non-reading sons, Charlie, Joe and Jack; and his dogs, Moose and Coco.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-In this wry and engaging story (Roaring Brook Press, 2011) by Tommy Greenwald, Charlie Joe has achieved the honor of being the cool kid who gets by without ever having to read a whole book. Now that he's in middle school, however, and his friend Timmy won't trade book reports for ice cream, Charlie has to get more creative to maintain his record. He is an extremely clever young man and knows all of the proper phrases to use in his reports. Also, he can work a friendship so that both parties come away feeling that they have won, and he promises to spread his manifesto of non-reading with a book filled with short chapters and monosyllabic words. Toss in some very authentic middle-school romance, a few interesting teachers, and 25 "exclusive non-reading tips," and the book fairly flies along to its surprisingly ironic ending. MacLeod Andrews performs Charlie's narrative with humor and typical middle-school sarcasm, using exaggerated voices for the other characters. Bonus features include an interview with the author, a section of the book that Charlie refuses to read, and a song about the joys of reading. With a sequel already in the works, Charlie Joe promises to be popular with fans of "The Wimpy Kid" series, and should make even the most reluctant readers stick around to the last (short) chapter.-MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson Elementary Schools, Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Greenwald pulls off a clever bit of reverse psychology in his debut, first in a series starring a cheeky middle grader who goes to great lengths to avoid reading-and whose humor and rapid-fire delivery should draw in like-minded kids. From the start, Charlie Joe schmoozes playfully with readers, promising short chapters and shorter words ("One syllable. Or less"). Kids who, upon entering the school library, may have been asked (as Charlie Joe is), "did you take a wrong turn somewhere?" will find an enthusiastic advocate in the boy. Throughout, he provides "tips" that dedicated nonreaders will enjoy ("If you have to read a book, make sure it has short chapters"). The novel chronicles Charlie Joe's machinations to avoid reading, which involve getting his classmates to do so for him; using this tactic for a research paper about school cliques yields revelations about clique mentality, but lands Charlie Joe in more trouble. Doth Charlie Joe protest too much? Maybe, but Greenwald wisely eschews an end-of-story reformation for his comic antihero, ensuring that readers will be treated to more of his entertaining circumlocutions in future books. Ages 9-12. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Middle schooler Charlie Joe Jackson hates reading so much that he enlists friends, siblings, and others in schemes to avoid it. His punishment is writing a book (the one we're reading), and he discovers he likes writing. The narrator's faux I'm-one-of-you tone won't fool reluctant readers. However, his smart-alecky voice--and the lengths he goes in his attempt to escape reading--may entertain them. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Charlie Joe will do just about anything to avoid reading in this humorous cautionary tale for book-hating middle-grade students.Debut author Greenwald takes on the persona of Charlie Joe Jackson, a middle-school boy who hates reading. His avoidance techniques get him into serious trouble with his parents, his teachers and his friends. After a year of avoiding readingpaying off a friend in ice-cream sandwiches to read books for him and manipulating his friends so he won't have to read for the all-important position-paper projectCharlie Joe is forced to spend his summer vacation writing a book about his poor choices. Charlie Joe's insider knowledge of the inner machinations of middle-school cliques will make younger readers smile in anticipation, and his direct address to readers makes make him feel like an older buddy showing the way. Sprinkled into the narrative are "Charlie Joe's Tips" to avoiding reading books, written on faux notebook paper, that serve as a little diversion from the plot. As amusing as this is, Charlie Joe's voice is not consistent and occasionally jars with the intelligent, smart-guy sarcasm that characterizes most of Charlie Joe's prose.That aside, slackers everywhere have a new, likable hero in Charlie Joe Jackson. (Fiction. 10-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* With his deep-seated love of not reading, this title's young narrator, Charlie Joe, speaks straight to other book-averse middle-schoolers. But avid readers will equally enjoy Charlie Joe's story, with its wild parodies and surprises that continue to the very end. The elaborate plot revolves around Charlie Joe's complicated tactics to avoid reading. He sets up bookworm Jake with cheerleader Hannah, for example, so that grateful Jake will read Charlie Joe's books for a class project about school cliques, but things don't go as planned; as Charlie Joe warns, Always be wary of plot twists. Charlie Joe's wry first-person narrative, interspersed with anti-reading tips and occasional small cartoons, mocks nearly everyone, also himself, and the hilarious wordplay adds to the fun: Charlie Joe is in love with Hannah, but if she is flawless, her twin brother is flawful. Not all books are bad, though: Charlie Joe does like checkbooks (a source of gifts from grandparents), comic books, and Facebook. A perfect read-aloud, this debut is filled with passages that beg to be shared: It is impossible to concentrate because I don't have my cell phone to text my friends to break up my concentration. With its subversive humor and contemporary details drawn straight from kids' worlds, this clever title should attract a wide following.--Rochman, Haze. Copyright 2010 Booklist