Charlie Joe Jackson – First Draft

Before CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING became a middle-grade novel, it started life as a picture book, called THE BOY WHO HATED READING.

(Naturally I gravitated to the picture book format because you don’t have to do much writing at all.)

Here it is for your enjoyment:

THE BOY WHO HATED READING.
by Tommy Greenwald

***

There was once a boy who hated reading.

***

The boy — whose name was Charlie — would do anything to make sure he never had to read.

***

Sometimes, Charlie would hide in the closet.

***

Sometimes, Charlie would pretend to be sick.

***

Sometimes, Charlie would tell his parents a long, long story until they got tired and left.

***

And, every once in a while, Charlie would throw a book across the room.

***

Then, one night just before bed, his mother came to see him. “Charlie,” she said, “I have a book you might enjoy.”

***

Charlie didn’t believe her.

***

She sat down on Charlie’s bed next to him and opened the book. “It’s the perfect book for you,” she said.

***

“It’s mostly pictures,” she went on.

***

“There are never more than two sentences on any page,” she added.
(Charlie counted, and she was right.)

***

“There are never more than three syllables in any word,” she promised.
(Charlie counted, and she was right again.)

***

“It’s about a little boy just like you,” she pointed out, “who hates to read.”

***

Charlie looked at the picture of the boy – whose name was Joe – and he had to admit that the boy kind of looked like him.

***

Then he noticed that the boy was hiding in the closet, which was something he liked to do.

***

And he saw a picture of the boy throwing a book across the room, which was also something Charlie liked to do.

***

Charlie looked at his mother. “Will you read it to me?” he asked.

***

“No,” his mother answered.

***

Then Charlie did something his mother had NEVER seen him do before.
He picked up the book.

***

He began to turn the pages.

***

THEN… he laughed.
And he laughed again, a little harder.

***

Slowly, his mother crept out of the room.
Charlie didn’t notice.

***

Soon, she reappeared at the doorway with Charlie’s father and sister, and together they all watched him read.
No one made a sound.

***

Then, all of a sudden, Charlie closed the book with a WHACK!
“I’ve finished,” he announced.

***

His mother, father and sister crept into the room.
No one said a word.

***

Finally, Charlie’s sister asked nervously, “Did you like it?”

***

“Are you kidding?” Charlie replied, “I LOVED IT!”

***

“THAT’S FANTASTIC!” his parents shouted.

***

Charlie put the book under his pillow. “I’m going to read this book again tomorrow night,” he declared.

***

“That’s wonderful,” Charlie’s mother replied. “Now go to bed.”

***

Charlie didn’t move.

***

“Come on honey, it’s very late,” Charlie’s mother insisted. But still, Charlie refused to budge.

***

C

harlie’s father and sister crept out of the room.
His mother sat down on the bed.

***

“Not again,” she said, looking at him.

***

“Yes again,” he said, looking at her.

***

And they looked at each other for a very, very long time.

***

Because, you see, there was only one thing Charlie hated doing more than reading.

***

Sleeping.