Parents' Guide to


By Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Award-winning coming-of-age book teaches empathy, bravery.

Paperboy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 9+

Great read

Excellent for building empathy around differences/diversity.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
age 12+

Fascinating story on many levels

This A+ story is narrated by a young boy who has always been defined by his stuttering. He learns many life lessons during his temporary job as a paperboy (set in the south, during the 60s), and we cheer for him as he stands up for someone he loves, despite extreme peril. Well written, compelling, and plenty of fresh, fascinating characters. OK for pre-teens who aren't sensitive to violence, which is alluded to through most of the book, and then culminates at the end. Positive and encouraging ending. Love this book!

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (2):

Paperboy is challenging but important. Readers will appreciate the narrator's struggles -- not only his speech problem but his growing understanding of the adult world's complexities and failings, from widely accepted racism to his family's painful secrets.

Author Vince Vawter based Paperboy on his own experiences. Readers may grow exasperated with his detailed explanations of stuttering, but he makes it clear how much the impediment affects the stutterer's life. The book's menacing atmosphere starts with the opening, "I'm typing about the stabbing for a good reason. I can't talk," and the violence is intense for a middle-grade novel. But readers mature enough to handle the material will come away with a deeper understanding of what life was like in the segregated South -- and what it means to truly come of age.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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