How to be Popular



Predictable book with a positive point; tweens OK.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Steph eventually learns to like being herself -- not being popular.

Not applicable

Steph secretly spies on her neighbor undressing; some kissing; Steph wakes up next to Jason, but both are full clothed.


Some stuff, like "ass" or "bitch."


Some product name dropping, such as Krispy Kreme, Pizza Hut, BMW, Calvin Klein, Crest Whitestrips.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The A-crowd plans a rager, complete with a keg.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book features a queen bee who ruthlessly torments Steph, the narrator. For her part, Steph spies on her neighbor when he's undressing, helps plan a party, and kisses two different boys. In the end, there's a good message about being true to yourself.

What's the story?

With the help of an outdated book about popularity, Steph Landry is determined to trade in her social leper status for life on the A-list.

\ But as she starts to climb the social ladder, she realizes that popularity isn't everything she dreamed it to be.

Is it any good?


Readers will know from the beginning what unpopular Steph will learn as she struggles to hang out with the A-crowd. They'll even know who she'll eventually hook up with (Hint: It's not the school's hot quarterback). They may also wonder how they're supposed to feel about the old book that inspires Steph's popularity plan. Some of the guide's advice is obviously outdated -- the book suggests white kid gloves, for example. But Steph's book also encourages girls to get involved in school activities, smile, and to remember other people's names -- all of which is actually pretty good advice, and does help Steph become popular.

But, even with these holes, readers will find this an entertainting read, and be thrilled when Steph finally figures out what really matters. They may even want to re-read the section where Steph tells Lauren -- the school's queen bee -- to buzz off, because "there are a lot more Steph Landry's in the world -- people who've made fools of themselves in public, people who don't have every hair perfectly in place all the time, people who don't have rich parents who'll buy them a new car every year -- than there are stuck-up beauty queens like you."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about other books and movies that deal with the concept of popularity. What other titles can you think of? How accurate are their depictions of what it's like to be "popular" -- and not? Are most popular kids really rich, gossipy, and mean? And if so, why would anyone want to be part of an A-group?

Book details

Author:Meg Cabot
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:August 29, 2006
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Read aloud:12
Read alone:12

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byforgetregret93 April 9, 2008

One of the best Meg Cabot books!

Kid, 11 years old September 15, 2010


i love this book so much . i am doing a synophsis of this book for my school work :)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old April 18, 2009

Awesome Book!

This is a really wonderful book. My friend recommended it to me, and I was pleasantly surprised. It took a few chapters for me to get into it, but I was so glad I kept reading. I highly recommend this book.


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