"Our kids don't like to read books, so I wrote one about not wanting to read one in the hopes that they read it," the New Girl star tells PEOPLE about I Don't Want to Read This Book

By Sam Gillette
February 11, 2021 03:00 PM
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Max Greenfield
| Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty

While many children's books are created for little ones who love to read, Max Greenfield wrote his book for the kids who don't.

His debut children's book, I Don't Want to Read This Book, is for all of the kids who dislike — or struggle — with reading. And he wrote it for his children, daughter Lilly, 11, and son Ozzie, 5, whom he shares with wife Tess Sanchez. (I Don't Want to Read This Book will be published by Putnam Books for Young Readers on Nov. 9.)

"Our kids don't like to read books, so I wrote one about not wanting to read one in the hopes that they read it," the New Girl star, 40, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive email interview. "Fingers crossed."

He continues: "What was most interesting to me though was WHY so many children don't want to read. In my experience, it was because I found reading to be very difficult — a hard thing for a child to articulate and to admit. For a lot of kids, I Don't Want to Read This Book will be the book they choose when they are feeling playfully rebellious."

Greenfield writes that for other young readers, "I hope this book will provide some relief. I hope it will give them a voice. One that's acknowledged with empathy and, in a perfect world, with a sense of humor."

Credit: Putnam Books for Young Readers

I Don't Want to Read This Book, which is illustrated by Mike Lowery, is in the same family as books like The Book With No Pictures and The Serious Goose. A funny read-aloud, it breaks the fourth wall and engages young readers who are normally reluctant to pick up a book.

The actor explains that the impetus behind his debut book was homeschooling his kids during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The homeschooling was really the catalyst for the book. When everything was shut down and it became just the two of us in a room with a curriculum, we both knew we were in real trouble," writes Greenfield of working on school work with Lilly. "It put a microscope on just how intense schooling can be and how MUCH reading is involved.

"I think we both needed to vent and the outcome was this book," he continues. "Having said that, I have been back at work for some time now and Lilly's mom, Tess, has taken over and we are all better for it."

The dad of two, who is currently filming season 3 of The Neighborhood with Cedric the Entertainer, explains that the book is his "last hope."

Lilly with her dad
| Credit: Max Greenfield

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"Honestly, in terms of techniques (and I'm not really sure how someone gauges success in reading), I think what Tess and I always try to remember as parents is that our kids are learning at their own pace," he writes. "And that doesn't just apply to reading. Every meaningful skill I have has taken time to learn."

Greenfield wants readers of all ages to have their own experience with I Don't Want to Read This Book. While writing the first draft, he even shared parts of it with Lilly and her friends.

"Before I handed in the first draft, I had several socially distant readings for Lilly and her friends," he recalls, joking, "They were a tough crowd. Very unforgiving."

Now that his book is finished, Greenfield hopes that it will be both a balm and a resource to help kids better engage with reading. And, if not, that's okay.

"Reading is something that has been an incredibly important part of my life," he writes. "But, at the same time, I want children to know that it's okay if they don't fall in love with it in the way that they are so often expected to."

I Don't Want to Read This Book will hit bookstores on Nov. 9.