Chapter 2 is entitled "Give My Regards to Clark, Poindexter" and refers to Byron, Kenny, and Joey's elementary school. Clark Elementary School is still in Flint but has been abandoned and is no longer in use. If you are interested in owning a piece of children's literature history, the building is for sale.
When the teachers ask Kenny to read, he reads from a book by Langston Hughes. Hughes was a famous African-American poet. Knowing that Kenny was reading poetry to the older students might help us understand why slowing down would be a better way for Kenny to read.
Comic books have always come with amazing products advertised in the back pages. Readers willing to believe the ads, and part with their hard earned $1.25, could purchase ways to get stronger, x-ray glasses, Sea Monkeys, and an entire fleet of battleships! (See some examples here.) Kenny says he's ordering a book called Learn Karate in Three Weeks! Maybe the ad was something like this one.