Does the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series bother you?

Have you heard of these “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books by Jeff Kinney? Are your kids into them? Are you?

There were three books in the series and the fourth book, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,” was released this week. The books chronicle the misadventures of two middle-school age boys trying to work through adolescence, home life and school with as little effort as possible.

The plots revolved around slapstick, laziness and ethical lapses that 8 to 12 year-old really enjoy but parents aren’t so sure about.

The New York Times reports:

“The words ‘moron,’ ‘jerk,’ ‘dork’ and ‘hot girls’ are used in the first five pages,” complains a reviewer on Amazon of the first book. “This is a poor choice for good character building in your children.”

But many experts disagree.

“It really captures the struggle of a child that age trying to figure out what it means to be a person,” said Dr. Joshua Sparrow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sparrow read the first Wimpy Kid book after a young patient told him about it.

Dr. Lawrence Rosen, a pediatrician who founded the Whole Child Center in Oradell, N.J., says he has talked about the series with his third-grade daughter, who says she likes that the main character is “not perfect.”

“The power of the book is about the wimpy kid, a regular kid with regular problems, just dealing with what life brings him,” Dr. Rosen said. “For parents, I suppose reading the books or at least discussing them with our kids will give us a more realistic idea of what their lives are like, the struggles they face every day.”

I have not read any of these books so I am definitely going to check it out.

Are you familiar with the “Wimpy Kid” series? Do you like it, hate it, have problems with it? Do you think it can help kids worth through ethical dilemmas in life and/or help parents have a dialogue with their kids about making ethical decisions?

83 comments Add your comment

Michelle

October 13th, 2009
1:05 am

Whether you agree with the plot lines in the “Wimpy Kid’ series or not, you have to admit, that children who are reluctant readers are really flocking to these books. I have read all the books in the series and have to admit that I love them. I was an awkward preteen and teen and can identify with Greg’s problems. Many times in the books Greg is portrayed as over confident and even sometimes a bit sarcastic, but he also is self conscious and afraid of normal every day things. He is a character whose point of view is very easily seen by readers children and adults alike. I remember those crazy years as a teen and wish I had “Wimpy Kid’ books to see me through the difficult times. Thanks to Jeff Kinney for the millions of children and adults who can now look on those years and not cringe and who can turn to these books for some laughs at some pretty embarrassing situations!

Andrea

October 13th, 2009
7:39 am

My son identifies with the “Wimpy Kid” and enjoys these books. As a parent, I can’t tell you how excited I was to actually have him ask me to take him to the mall to buy the book! I read the books as well, and I enjoyed them. I haven’t read the newest release yet but I know I will. The entire series is a good one in my opinion. Like the earlier poster commented, reluctant readers are reading these books. My experience has been that it is harder to keep my son interested in reading once he hit the pre-teen stage.

Photius

October 13th, 2009
8:10 am

These books are phonies…. Give your pre-teen the real McCoy and freak all parents out with Salinger’s CATCHER IN THE RYE instead of the latest flash in the pan author who is standing on the shoulders of J.D. Salinger.

madmommy

October 13th, 2009
8:50 am

Photius, I agree that all children should be required to read the classics, but that not all will unless required at school.

I think it’s great that there are books out there getting kids to read but that once they start reading, keep it going. Take them to the library to keep it going. Most of these books use “course” language or the slang that kids hear everyday to grab their attention while relating to them on their level. I remember reading a few Judy Blumes in my day that some parents thought were a bit risque’. The book isn’t meant to step in and parent, but allow kids to know that they aren’t strange or weird because of things that all kids go through. You have to remember that at that age a childs world is a whole lot smaller so little things seem huge.

Michelle

October 13th, 2009
9:09 am

I have not read the books, but agree with some of the others. If you can get your child interested in reading, that’s a good first step. It may not be a classic, but it will help engage their imagination!

anne

October 13th, 2009
9:10 am

Photius – I have to agree with the others. My daughter has latched onto this series and really enjoys them. Her birthday is coming up and I know this will be one of her presents. There will come a time when she moves on to “classics”.

Theresa – I would imagine that, given your children’s ages, they are into “Magic Tree House” and other series. This series seems to be targeted toward Middle Schoolers.

Denise

October 13th, 2009
9:17 am

My 8 year old loves these books. He started reading them when he was 6, which is right around the time we moved. These books, along with many others, helped him get through a tough time.

Lisa

October 13th, 2009
9:34 am

My 8 year old has enjoyed all of the books in the Wimpy Kid series and we will definitely be picking up a copy of the 4th book this week. While I don’t want him walking around calling people “dork” or “moron,” these are words he has already been exposed to in every day life. Any books that get kids excited about reading are okay with me.

lmno

October 13th, 2009
9:43 am

I haven’t heard of these books, but I am for children reading, with almost no regards to what it is they read.

I like the idea of reading books that we don’t agree with.

JATL

October 13th, 2009
10:01 am

I read EVERYTHING as a kid and a teenager -trash, classics, Judy Blume, many adult novels, etc.If you’re bothering to actually raise your child, then you should be able to get the message across that just because a character in a book, movie, cartoon, tv series, etc. does something a certain way doesn’t mean THEY have to do it that way. I’m also for kids reading just about anything. When I taught I would have been thrilled for my students to read Penthouse Forum because at least they would have been reading something! There are far worse things out there (Iike Penthouse Forum) for pre-teens and middle schoolers to read as well, so I think the helicopter parents should (as usual) chill out and get over it.

Jesse's Girl

October 13th, 2009
10:16 am

I’ve never heard of them….but they sound funny as hell! You must relate to a kid on their personal level. As badly as we wish it….most of our kids aren’t interested in the Literary Classics just yet. If a book series laden with geeks and morons rouses their curiosity..so be it. Its no different than us reading…and LOVING and totally identifying….with works such as The Outsiders.

Becky

October 13th, 2009
10:21 am

I too read just about anything as a young child/teen..There was never anything that I wasn’t allowed to read..I’m with others, as long as the child is reading, it’s ok..

@Photius, I have never read Catcher In the Rye and I turned out just fine thank you..Kids don’t always have to read “the classics” to survive..

FCM

October 13th, 2009
10:52 am

They have sparked some interesting discussions in our house. I have not read them but will often ask what is up with Greg when my oldest (daughter) is reading them. I also recommeneded them to a co-worker who’s son is a reluctant reader. The son is in to Capt. Underpants so I thought he might like Greg. Another co-worker says her son is into them. I also recommend the Bailey Street School series to reluctant readers.

I hear worse language on the Disney channel. They hear worse on the school playground.

New Stepmom

October 13th, 2009
10:57 am

It sounds sort of like a modern day Sweet Valley High with a more boy central theme. I read that series for several years in middle school and they really enhanced my love of reading and got me talking about books with my friends. At that point in my life, I was also reading the SE Hinton novels, Judy Blume and Shakespeare. Now I still read just about anything I can get my hands on and try to mix romance, classics, chick lit, modern fiction with “meat to it,” crime/mystery, etc. If these books get kids to read, I say go for it and use the coarse language as a learning opportunity.

We are lucky, my stepdaughter can read a 300 page novel in a day because she loves to read. I hope our little one loves to read like that too!

JJ

October 13th, 2009
11:21 am

It took the Twilight series to get my oldest niece reading. She hated to read until those books came out. She was a junior in high school when she started her love of reading. What a shame….all that lost time.

Her parents never read to her as a child.

My daughter reads EVERYTHING she can get her hands on. Both my parents were heavy duty readers, and our house looked like a library. I love to read, but can only read one book at a time. Both my parents, and my mom still today, can read two books at the same time. So I’ve always been a reader, and I was reading to my child before she was born……

Becky

October 13th, 2009
11:34 am

JJ, I usually have one book in my car that I read while at lights, one book in my desk at work (for lunch) and one book on the nightstand..I have 2 brothers that are big readers also..My parents never read a book to any of us, so I guess thats why out of 10, most of my family doesn’t read..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 13th, 2009
12:14 pm

Anne — We are Magic Treehouse Crazy — Walsh is tearing through them about a book a day — Rose is ready for the next thing — if anyone has any good suggestions for 3rd grade girls — she’s reading on like a 6th grade level but really any good series I could start her on would be great –

FCM

October 13th, 2009
12:38 pm

Rose might like Ramona series by Beverly Clearly. Especially if she sees Lili as Ramona and herself as Beezus.

Miss Popularity and other Candy Apple books.

New Stepmom

October 13th, 2009
12:56 pm

Theresa, I liked the Anastasia Krupnik series at that age too. Ramona Quimby books rocked too.

fred

October 13th, 2009
12:57 pm

Theresa, My daughter is reading the Junie B Jones and Judy Moody (although my daughter is about a year behind yours) They love the American girls series as well as Eloise.

anne

October 13th, 2009
1:28 pm

I can second Junie B and the American Girl series. When I was Rose’s age, I loved “Little House on the Prairie” and the other books in that series. I tried to get my daughter interested in them, but no luck. I also loved “Little Women”, “Little Men”. What about the Boxcar Children series?

southern hope

October 13th, 2009
1:30 pm

My now 5th grader loathed reading..until we brought him copies of Wimpy Kid in 4th grade…it was amazing what happened! One year later, he’s reading abridged versions of the Red Badge of Courage and Moby Dick.

I am not making this up. (we couldn’t believe it either)

Denise

October 13th, 2009
1:35 pm

Are the Wimpy Kids books focused solely on a boy or are there girls being focused on? Are any of the characters Black? Not trying to start a race conversation but if one of the things people like about the books is that their kids can relate to the characters, I think this is a reasonable question.

New Stepmom

October 13th, 2009
1:37 pm

The American Girl bboks are fantastic. There is not another organization, in my opionion, from churches, schools, girl scouts etc. teaching girls more about being themselves and being smart. Their fiction books are great and we have found that their life skills books are outstanding as well (money, development, divorce, manners are all covered in different books).

Becky

October 13th, 2009
1:40 pm

Anne, I also read all of the Little House books. Loved them..Does anyone have chidren that have read Anne Of Green Gables? I bought them for my niece and she wouldn’t read them, so I did..She did enojy the American Girl books..

Val

October 13th, 2009
1:43 pm

My son has just started asking for the Wimpy Kid books. I think he likes that they are hardcover, too. He is also into the Flat Stanley books right now. I remember loving not only the Little House on the Prarie books as a little girl but also Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.

Val

October 13th, 2009
1:45 pm

I’m just glad they don’t have the word “underpants” in the title! :)

anne

October 13th, 2009
1:47 pm

Becky – how could I forget Anne of Green Gables?

My daughter is also reading the Rick Riordan series of books, starting with “The Lightening Thief”. She liked them so much, she said “Mom, you’ve got to read these books!” Haven’t had a chance to start them yet.

Razz

October 13th, 2009
1:51 pm

I grew up working at my mom’s used bookstore so I read everything (well except Western’s). Anne of Green Gables were always my favorite when I was young, I still have the entire series on my bookshelf today, that’s disappointing that kids today aren’t as into it…guess it just shows out age!

MomsRule

October 13th, 2009
1:56 pm

“I usually have one book in my car that I read while at lights” – I’m all about reading but the driver of a vehicle should not be reading a book.

Razz

October 13th, 2009
2:01 pm

our age…oops!

Becky

October 13th, 2009
2:01 pm

@MomsRule, when you are sitting at a red light for 5-10 minutes, there isn’t anything wrong with reading..Or when you are sitting on the interstate for a half an hour without moving, there isn’t anything wrong with that either..I did not say that I read while driving..Someone always wants to read something into something that isn’t there..

Left to Right

October 13th, 2009
2:07 pm

“Are the Wimpy Kids books focused solely on a boy or are there girls being focused on? Are any of the characters Black?”

The primary characters in the books are white, male, middle class pre-teen boys.

Kris

October 13th, 2009
2:09 pm

Val, thanks! I loved reading Encyclopedia Brown
many years ago but had not been able to recall the
name of the series for some time. I just remembered
enjoying the stories and wished I could recall. Now
I might have to get some of those books for the kids just so I can read them again!

Ned Flanders

October 13th, 2009
2:11 pm

my child read the first two “Wimpy Kid” books at age 7, and moved on. they’re now in the the “garage sale” box. like it or not, words like jerk, moron and dork are part of the elementary school vernacular. a word only has power if adults give it power, and discussing a writer’s decision to use such words can cover everything from self-expression to the First Amendment. at the end of the day, any book is better than no book. at this age (5-12) reading is a tool for learning, and if a child can handle (comprehend) a book, he/she should read it. “Catcher in the Rye”? C’mon, I read it in H.S. and it bored me to tears. Narcissistic whining has it’s place, but I never understood why it is a “classic”.

Johnboy

October 13th, 2009
2:13 pm

Reading IS fundamental….remember. Thought is still free . If you try hard enough you’ll find somebody that thinks Dr. Seuss is a conspiracy to implement socialist dogma….

Shananeeeeee Fananeeeeeee

October 13th, 2009
2:14 pm

It’s better to be a wimp, avoid altercation at all costs. Then as a man the kid can be a real man and walk away from a fight or work it out. If that A.J. Jewell character would have walked away instead of being a big man by fighting he would be alive today. His 6 kids would still have a father and the 4 mothers would still have a paycheck.

SchellingOutinATL

October 13th, 2009
2:15 pm

My 10YO loved these books. He’s not a reluctant reader — devours everything in sight — and he ripped through them. The 7YO is now asking for them. I don’t find the sarcasm any more or less grating than on many kids shows, and far more innocuous than on a show like “Drake and Josh.” And they’re not as … well, dumb as the Captain Underpants books, which I despised. As an aside, I can’t believe anyone would be silly enough to suggest Catcher in the Rye for the tween set. C’mon. Most of us read it in HS or college. My 10YO could handle the vocab, but not the plot line. Personally, I found Holden tiresome and self-absorbed. But, then, most 17YO boys are.

Ashley

October 13th, 2009
2:18 pm

Becky, I don’t believe Photius meant that the survival of mankind depends on kids reading the classics. The classics are, well just that, classic! And they make many other books pale in comparison! And 60 years from now will we be talking about the modern day authors in the same way we talk about Salinger or Golding?? I seriously doubt it!

Scorpia

October 13th, 2009
2:26 pm

My son LOVES them, and have never seen him pick up a book and read it all the way through like he has this series! I was at the bookstore bright and early to pick up the newest book for him yesterday. He can definitely relate to the character, and he enjoys the books. I see nothing wrong with them.

MomsRule

October 13th, 2009
2:44 pm

Becky, some things should not be done by the driver while operating a motor vehicle. Stopped at a light or not. If your nose is buried in a book – you are not watching what is going on around you. Its very simple.

LydiasDad

October 13th, 2009
2:45 pm

Don’t create an issue where there isn’t one. Quit panicking over imagined self esteem issues. At least the kids are reading something. Most kids simply won’t pick up a book.

penguinmom

October 13th, 2009
2:46 pm

My middle school son really likes these. He thinks the illustrations and situations are really funny. I read the first one to make sure there was nothing horrible. They are funny and silly in a slapstick kind of way. I don’t mind him reading these because he’s also reading Three Musketeers, Tale of Two Cities and Pilgrim’s Progress this year so he’s got both sides covered.

Theresa, as far as girl series go my daughter is 4th grade. We’ve enjoyed
the Fairy Realm series by Emily Rodda (starts with ‘The Charm Bracelet’)
‘Marigold and the feather of Hope’ by Sweet (another series)
Also, mysteries like A to Z mysteries by Ron Roy – about same reading level as Magic Tree
the Judy Moody books
Clementine by Pennypacker
a series called ‘Classic Starts’ that has books like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables cut down to be read more easily.
The Ordinary Princess by Kaye
anything by Edward Eager (Half Magic, 7 Day Magic)
anything by Andrew Clements (we usually do these on audio so the whole family can enjoy)
Catwings by leGuin
The Tail of Emily Winsnap by Kessler

The problem I have found with girl books as they get older is they become so wrapped up in boys, relationships and cliques that they stop being a ‘just for fun’ reads.

Krys

October 13th, 2009
2:46 pm

The books are really cute. I started reading one and couldn’t put it down. I didn’t know these books were controversial. From a biblical/moral perspective, wouldn’t Harry Potter be considered much worse? At the end of the day…to each their own.

Middle School Language Arts Teacher

October 13th, 2009
2:46 pm

I love books that encourage children to read but as a language arts teacher, I do not recommend these books for formal reading projects.

jmc

October 13th, 2009
2:51 pm

@MomsRule…you are correct!

jack5656

October 13th, 2009
2:53 pm

I haven’t read this series, but if there are those out there who think the tone and language of the citations above are offensive and inappropriate for children, those folks should think twice before they let their kids thumb through Bible in their pews on Sunday mornings. There’s all kinds of light reading to get them through a sermon they’re not listening to anyway: Incest, cannibalism, child sacrifice, genital mutilation, chopped up body parts, genocide, impaling, burst intestines and more! IT’S A HOOT for little johnny.

Zoe

October 13th, 2009
2:53 pm

Theresa, When I was in 3rd/4th grade, our class was reading the Chronicles of Narnia. We also discovered the Anne McCaffery Dragonriders of Pern novels. There are a few she wrote that are geared toward younger kids and our teacher read one out loud to us. I liked them so much, I read the entire series- even reading the adult ones.

I spent a lot of time at our local library, going there after school two or three times a week. These are the ones I remember reading when I was about your daughter’s age. If you google any of these authors you’ll see that most of what I’ve listed are classics, many from the 30s, 40s and 50s, you may have read some of them yourself. The Shoe Books (made a comeback after being mentioned You’ve Got Mail but, I read them in the early 80s) by Noel Streatfeild, the Magic Books by Edward Eager, any Beverly Cleary book- she’s written dozens. Lois Lenski books from the American Regional series and her historical novels. The Wrinkle in Time series by Madeline L’Engle. She may want to branch out to others L’Engle wrote after working through the five books in the series. I also would like to chime in on the Little House on the Prarie books, my parents bought them and I wouldn’t read them until they started showing reruns after school. Then I tore through them. There is a new adaption of the book on Hallmark channel- 6 hours long that is great!

Zoe

October 13th, 2009
2:56 pm

Forgot about the Great Brain books by John D. Fitzgerald

Andrea

October 13th, 2009
3:02 pm

@Denise: There are several Black children in the classroom that thoroughly enjoyed these books. If you are looking for a series geared toward a Black youth, try The Fantastical Adventures of Sleepy Steve. It is by a local author from Decatur, Deronte Smith, and he just added a new book to his series. I think the new book is the second book. We read the first one and it was funny as all get out!

The one thing I have found with both series is that the race of the main character is an afterthought. It really doesn’t play into the book at all.