How to be Popular

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
How to be Popular Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Predictable book with a positive point; tweens OK.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 21 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

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


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2, 8, and 12-year-old Written bycremepie998 September 2, 2012

OK for mature kids...

My daughter saw this book in the local bookstore, read the back, and begged me to buy it. We decided I would read it first, and if it was OK, she would read it... Continue reading
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byMikayla... December 6, 2010

Good for teens and tweens

My daughter read this book and loved it.She's 12 years old and read it for a project in literature. She was mainly concerned with the language. I'm ju... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 20, 2011

Overall not a bad choice for young teens (:

Although predictable, this book encourages kids - especially girls- to not focus on popularity as the main thing in their life because it can be taken away fro... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKasey Akins May 5, 2011

Perfect for kids in High School and for those trying to "fit in".

Ilove the book I read it for a report for my English class. I am a High School Student and this is book has a message that kids should look up to. It teaches yo... Continue reading

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With the help of an outdated book about popularity, Steph Landry is determined to trade in her social leper status for life on the A-list.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

Talk to your kids 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?

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