We Love "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (and why you should too)

Charlie, our middle schooler, brought home "Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a novel in cartoons" by Jeff Kinney the other day. I don't think I've ever seen him laugh so much at one book. Silly, gleeful laughter. The next day, he bought (with his own money) the next two books in the series and would have bought number four, the latest, but it was sold out.

Imagine that George and Harold of the Captain Underpants series have grown up and gone to middle school and you might have an idea of what the Wimpy Kid series is about. Kinney has tapped into his inner middle school self and offered up a glimpse into that mixed-up, angst-ridden, awful time. Charlie felt like the main character, Greg Heffley, was speaking directly to him. As I waited while Charlie had his orthodontic appointment, I read up to page 83 (it's a very quick read, with the pictures and all) and thoroughly enjoyed myself, laughing out loud (as quietly as I could in the waiting room).

So why don't parents like this series? We've heard that they're concerned with the occasional intentional bad grammar and Greg's sometimes questionable behavior. He's a slacker; not a motivated student. If you're offended by the word "booger" or the idea that a picture of Shel Silverstein is terrifying to young Greg, then this series probably won't work for you. Basically, as I said before, he's George and Harold a few years later.

My response to the concerned parents out there: Does anyone remember Mad Magazine? I grew up reading Mad, and, let me tell you, it was pretty bad. Much worse, in fact. And not only did I survive, but in high school I was reading Dostoyevsky by choice. In other words, I survived. When Charlie and I talked about adults not liking this series, he asked me, "Why do adults forget what it's like to be a kid?" That's a good question. We don't have to let go of our inner child. It's okay to laugh and be silly. Remember, middle schoolers are not fine, upstanding people. They can be pretty awful. Let them laugh. Give them something they want to read, and they just may grow up to be fine, upstanding adults.

Just don't get the cheese touch.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a novel in cartoons
Jeff Kinney
217 pages
Amulet Books


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