Booktalk: The 6th Grade Nickname Game by Gordon Korman

This one’s for all the teachers in the house!  I hadn’t thought about The 6th Grade Nickname Game for a while, but after it came up recently in a dinner conversation with several educators I decided that it was time to share this booktalk.  I’ve often placed this book into the hands of reluctant readers, especially boys, when they’ve visited my library.  This was a good book for me to add to my booktalking repertoire because a funny book about boys helped to balance out all the sad books about girls.  And while we’re on the subject … why DO I keep choosing sad books about girls?

Of course, whenever you’re looking for great books (especially funny ones) to recommend to young readers, Gordon Korman is an excellent choice.


Wiley and Jeff are legends in class 6B.  They’ve been playing a game for years – a nickname game.  They’ve given nicknames to lots of kids and teachers, and their nicknames are so popular that they always stick.  Charles Rossi always snoops around watching people, so they call him Snoopy.  Their principal always looks at everyone with big round eyes, so they call him Deer in Headlights.  Some people had easy nicknames: Kelly Warnover became Warmed-Over-Leftovers, Christy Jones became Crusty Bones, and 6B’s new English teacher Mr. Hughes just had to be Mr. Huge.  Jeff and Wiley even gave nicknames to entire classes.  6A had all the smartest kids in it, so they were called the Bright Lights.  6B, on the other hand, had the kids who didn’t do so well in school, so they were called the Dim Bulbs.

Up until now, these nicknames have been a lot of fun, but suddenly there’s a downside.  You see, class 6B did very badly on the practice test for the State Reading Assessment.  But if they don’t pull themselves together and do well on the real test, Mr. Hughes is going to be fired!  The problem is, 6B has been called the Dim Bulbs for so long that they’ve really come to believe it.  Even Jeff and Wiley have to admit that sometimes a nickname can do more harm than good.  Is there any hope for the Dim Bulbs?  Can they prove their nickname isn’t true?  And can they ace a test to save their teacher’s job?

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