The fact that sixth-grader Joseph's mother can't read is not just an inconvenience to her--it makes it almost impossible for her to get a job, since she can't fill out forms or negotiate public transportation. Meanwhile, Dad works two night jobs to make ends meet, and Mom depends on Joseph for everything from reading letters from school to, finally, teaching her to read--which he tries dutifully to do, even though he doesn't know the best way to begin and the task seems to monopolize all his time. Discovering a literacy program at the library and persuading Mom to go helps the whole family: While Mom acquires self-respect, new friends, and the skills she needs, Joseph is freed from adult responsibilities and reclaims time for his own friends and school work. Simply told, without great literary skill but with well-organized details that are touching in their authenticity. A fine, realistic early chapter book that would also be appropriate for readers in an adult literacy class. Illustrations not seen.