Saturday, December 6, 2008

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Book Review For the Classroom Teacher

Early last school year, I was making a large round up purchase of books for my 5th grade classroom library, and picked up a few copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney (as well as its sequel, titled: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules). I noticed something very quickly. These books never even touched the bookshelf. They spent the entire year being read. This year, it was the same story, those books have continued to fly off the shelves and have been enjoyed, already, by over 25 of my students in the past 15 months.

So what is it about these books that make them so loved by pre-teen students? First of all, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are one part fictional journal (written in a daily format), one part graphic novel, and one part realistic fiction. The books are the story of Greg Heffley, a middle school student who lives the life of, well, a middle school student. Greg is oblivious to the world around him, selfish like most middle schoolers can tend to be, and makes witty, age appropriate observations through spot on teenage dialogue.

Lately I've been writing a little about books being relevant to "modern students." These books are a prime example. I currently have a student, a struggling reader with a learning disability, reading the second book in this series (and who is eagerly awaiting the release of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, which releases on January 13, 2009), and who is eager for more reading because these books have shown him that reading can be interested and leave you begging for more.

There is honestly no reason that an elementary school teacher, grades 3-5 (and even middle school teachers, 6-8) shouldn't have these books in their classroom. They are great books that kids are enjoying tremendously, and there has to be something said for books that increase interest in reading. It has also set off a search in my classroom for other graphic novels (I have a post from last year titled Teaching With Graphic Novels that you should take a look at if this is something that interests you).

Finally, if you are interested in these books in your classroom, you can head off to and read the daily text of Diary of a Wimpy Kid there. I currently have a small group of below grade level readers working their way through this. CLICK HERE to go there and check it out for yourself, it's free.



I am a K-4 librarian and entice reluctant readers with a large graphic novel collection--The Simpsons, Owly, Garfield, Peanuts, Sardine, Babymouse, Fashion Kitty, various Marvel titles. A great series that seems to be gaining ground is Susan Schade's trilogy:FogMound, which alternates text and graphic chapters. Brian Selznick's Hugo Cabret is also a great visual novel and has the distinction of being quite huge with little text, leading to a sense accomplishment. There is also a series of bios about WWE wrestlers that has enticed many a reluctant reader. Thanks for the Wimpy Kid link, I immediately put it on my library home page site.

The Buss said...

The series titled Bone is also very popular. The graphic novels that I personally enjoy aren't easy for elementary school students to read, things like Maus, but American Born Chinese has been enjoyed by a few of my more advanced students who actually can follow the cultural satire and such. said...

Thanks for your post- I'm look at books for teens and children that make social observations and talk about issues. I'll definitely have to look into your recommendation. :) Keep up the nice work.