All kids are embarrassed by their parents at one time or another, and all kids have to deal with various kinds of peer pressure as they try to find where they belong in the world. The Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements explores these themes through the main character, Jack and his struggles in our elitist society. Jack has to deal with the guilt of being embarrassed that his father is the school janitor. The journey to a more mature view and acceptance leads Jack to places he never expected to go.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.


Benefits of Using The Janitor’s Boy in Your Classroom:

  • Relatable Characters and Themes: The Janitor’s Boy revolves around the protagonist, Jack Rankin, whose father works as the school janitor—a fact Jack finds deeply embarrassing. This premise immediately draws students into the narrative, as they navigate themes of identity, family dynamics, and societal expectations. By exploring these universal themes, students can relate their own experiences to those of the characters, fostering empathy and understanding.
  • Promotes Character Development: As Jack grapples with his feelings about his father’s occupation, readers witness his journey of self-discovery and personal growth. Through his experiences, students learn valuable lessons about acceptance, forgiveness, and the importance of seeing beyond surface-level judgments. This narrative arc provides ample opportunities for classroom discussions on character development and moral dilemmas.
  • Encourages Critical Thinking: Clements’ masterful storytelling doesn’t just entertain; it also challenges readers to think critically about complex issues. From examining stereotypes to questioning societal norms, The Janitor’s Boy encourages students to engage in thoughtful analysis and reflection. By fostering critical thinking skills, teachers empower students to become active participants in their own learning journey.
  • Enhances Literacy Skills: In addition to its thematic depth, The Janitor’s Boy offers rich language and vivid imagery that enhance students’ literacy skills. Through close reading and analysis of Clements’ prose, students develop a deeper appreciation for language and storytelling techniques. Moreover, the novel serves as a springboard for creative writing activities, allowing students to explore their own narrative voices.
  • Supports Social and Emotional Learning: Beyond academic growth, The Janitor’s Boy addresses important social and emotional themes, making it a valuable resource for promoting social and emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom. By examining characters’ emotions and motivations, students develop empathy and interpersonal skills crucial for navigating real-world relationships.
  • Cross-Curricular Connections: Teachers can leverage The Janitor’s Boy to facilitate interdisciplinary learning experiences. Whether exploring historical contexts, scientific concepts, or artistic interpretations, the novel provides a versatile framework for integrating various subjects into classroom discussions. This interdisciplinary approach enhances students’ understanding by connecting the themes of the book to broader academic concepts.
  • Engagement and Enjoyment: Ultimately, the most compelling reason to incorporate The Janitor’s Boy into the classroom is the sheer enjoyment it brings to students. Captivating storytelling, relatable characters, and thought-provoking themes combine to create an immersive reading experience that students won’t soon forget. By fostering a love for reading, teachers can ignite a lifelong passion for learning in their students.

Incorporating The Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements into the classroom offers a multitude of benefits, from promoting critical thinking and literacy skills to fostering empathy and social-emotional learning. By engaging with this poignant novel, students not only expand their academic horizons but also gain valuable insights into themselves and the world around them. The Janitor’s Boy harnesses the power of literature to inspire, challenge, and uplift our students.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Janitor’s Boy for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.


See what people are saying about The Janitor’s Boy Novel Study by The Teaching Bank!

Try a free sample of the novel study for The Janitor’s Boy

You can purchase this novel study at the following locations:

Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.