Closing the Achievement Gap in Reading with a New Chapter Book Series Featuring Relatable African American Characters


Achievement gap in reading continues to exist between African American children and their peers.



Children become fluent readers by devouring early chapter books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magic Tree House, and Junie B. Jones during 1st-4th grade.

There are few books that are representative of African American children and experiences for today's early readers.

Relatability motivates readers.

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Develop a high quality, humorous chapter book series that African American children can relate to that increases fluency, vocabulary, and test scores.

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Series Summary:

We compiled a team of educators, kids, writers, parents and illustrators called Matt Maxx (author pen name) to develop the Big Monty series. This series features fifth-grader Merlin Montgomery, a sensitive kid who navigates between his love of the great astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and his desire to be accepted by A’lo Jenkins, the school champion of yo’ mama jokes. In book one, The Lunatic Lunch Lady, Merlin retaliates against A’lo by flinging food into his nemesis’s lopsided flattop. While on punishment—cleaning gum from cafeteria tables—Merlin discovers that the lunch lady has created a monster out of the leftover lasagna and fish sticks to attack the ungrateful students. He and his clever, polka-dot-wearing sister, Josephine, swap out a gourmet restaurant truck for the school food truck to stop her. In book two, Merlin and A’lo team up to take on a Psycho Substitute. Book three features nerdy Winston Jones, Global, who helps Merlin defeat a Pumped-Up Principal. Each book features science experiments and vocabulary builders.

We need your help to produce this series and distribute copies to every elementary school, library, and Boys & Girls Club in Mississippi (1000 copies).

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Stretch Goals:

$25,000 - Gets 1500 copies into schools, libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs

$35,000 - Produces book two in the series: Big Monty and the Psycho Substitute

$45,000 - Gets 1000 copies of book two into schools, libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs

$55,000 - Produces book three in the series: Big Monty and a Pumped Up Principal

$65,000 - Gets 1000 copies of book three into schools, libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs

What can you do?

  1. We begin our Kickstarter Campaign on November 1, 2018. Share on your social media on day one:

  • Facebook page (we will send you the link on the day of the event):

Take a look at this Kickstarter campaign designed to close the achievement gap. I’m supporting it because…. (link)

  • Tweet - This is one Kickstarter Campaign that caught my attention (link) #kickstarter #teachers #parents #literacy

  • Share an image we provide on Instagram with a link to the campaign

2. Share again midway - we will send you the text.

3. Share again on the day before the campaign ends to make sure we meet our goal.

4. Endorse the campaign. We will add a quote from you on the Kickstarter Campaign

5. Help connect us to other people who share the vision to #closethegap

6. Buy a copy for a school, library, or boys and girls club.

If you are interested in supporting this project, please tell us the best way to reach you before the campaign begins in November.

Matt Maxx Team Member, Alison Buehler

(662) 694-0124