The Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements takes the normal tween feelings of being embarrassed by their parents to an extended level. It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.
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. These normal feelings are multiplied for Jack 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.
From the Book Jacket:
Unfortunately, it also led to the perfect punishment. When Jack Rankin gets busted for defacing a school desk with a huge wad of disgusting, watermelon bubble gum, the principal sentences him to three weeks of after-school gum cleanup for the chief custodian. The problem is, Jack’s anger at the chief custodian was the reason for his gum project in the first place. The chief custodian happens to be Jack’s dad.
But doing time in the school basement after hours reveals some pretty surprising things: about the school, about Jack’s father, and about Jack himself.
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.
This is a great book for kids who have dealt with feeling inferior to their peers (who hasn’t!) and for kids that have acted out in inappropriate ways trying to deal with their feelings. Many kids will relate to Jack’s inner struggles of acceptance of himself and his father and they will appreciate, as Jack does, that learning about their parent as a person outside of their kids reveals more than they ever imagined.
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!
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