Tom Greenwald ’79 has a long list of accomplishments. Captain of the Staples soccer team, a state championship soccer player, Harvard graduate, and creative director for an agency that specializes in Broadway advertising.
Now, he’s adding children’s author to the list.
Greenwald will release his first children’s book, called “Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide To Not Reading,” this July.
The novel, which is aimed for middle schoolers, will be the first of a five-part series that tells the story of the most reluctant reader ever. Greenwald’s inspiration for the book came from his three sons, all Staples students.
“I got the idea and the name of the main character from my kids Charlie, Joe and Jack, all of whom hated to read growing up. I wanted to write a book that would appeal to them,” Greenwald said.
The release of “Charlie Joe Jackson” will end a year-long process for Greenwald in writing his first novel. According to the author, the first draft took him three months to write, while the revision process took about six months. The Westport resident credits his family for helping him through this challenging process and for creating an online video previewing the book.
“My family has been very supportive. Even though my kids hate to read, they all read this, or at least they said they did. In addition, my wife helped produce the trailer and organized the shooting at the Westport Public Library,” Greenwald said.
The trailer created by Greenwald and his wife, Cathy Utz, is just one of the many platforms that Greenwald has used to publicize the release of his book. With almost 700 views on YouTube, the video features Westport and Norwalk students describing the things they would rather do than read a book.
Along with the viral video, Greenwald has created his own website to market the book and has turned to social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about “Charlie Joe Jackson.” With a target audience between the ages of eight and 13, Greenwald hopes that he can inspire a demographic that publishers have a hard time entertaining.
“Reluctant reading boys are the first target for my book because according to my publisher, that’s an underserved market. The hope is that kids of all ages will enjoy reading my book,” Greenwald said.
As for the Greenwald boys, they could not be more excited about their dad’s first novel. Charlie Greenwald ’12 exemplified his family’s pride for Greenwald’s book. The Staples Player and WWPT disc jockey expressed surprise at his father’s career path, saying that to him, he has always been an advertiser.
Charlie continued, “He’s a funny writer and it was just a matter of time before he decided to pursue this road.”
And he certainly has a lot to look forward to with the release of this book. According to the author, the money grossed from book sales will be put toward the junior’s college education.
With “Charlie Joe Jackson” set to release in the heart of the summer reading months, Tom Greenwald’s novel will immediately have the opportunity to inspire children to read. The comedic angle of the novel and light-hearted feeling will have no problem provoking the interest of Westport’s youth, as the words of “Charlie Joe Jackson” demonstrate this idea.
“If my book inspires just one kid to become a reader, then that’s one too many,” Greenwald said.