I never thought that I’d sit down and read Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, but I did. I expected to hate it. I thought that it was going to be the most challenging read of my life, based solely on the fact that I didn’t really want to read it. And then I dove in, reading with the knowledge that this book has been challenged for its content, and I actually really liked it.
The book has been challenged due to the fact that the main character Greg Heffley is, well, a wimp. Only, I don’t really see him as a typical wimp. He’s clever and resourceful when it comes to getting around the rules that his parents or the school impose on him. That could be regarded as questionable behavior by parents who don’t want their kids reading the series, but it’s certainly not wimpy. The story is not really a diary; it’s a journal written in a book that was intended as a diary. Greg knows that writing in a diary is “wimpy,” so it’s a journal. There is no “Dear Diary” at the beginning of each comically illustrated entry, just the day of the week. The reader keeps note of the passage of time based on what season or holiday Greg describes in the entry. At one point, close to Halloween, Greg decides that he’d like to bulk up and be muscular to be better at wrestling. A short while later he receives a set of weights for Christmas – he’s already lost interest in gaining muscle during the wait to the holiday.
There’s no denying that Greg is not the greatest role model. Like I said, he kind of gets out of things and finds loopholes with his cleverness – like putting his violent video games in his little brother’s ABC game cases to fool his best friend’s dad into thinking that they’re playing an educational game and not blowing things up – and he’s definitely a bit obnoxious from the point of view of an adult with children fast approaching this age group. Do I want my children to be like Greg? No. Do I want to tell them they can’t read the series because he is not a great role model? No. Why? Because deep down, this series gets children to pick up a book and read it. And then they pick up the next book, and the next, and all of a sudden they have a love of reading thanks to a character that was down to earth and easy to understand.
After finishing the book (in less than a day!) I can honestly say that it was an entertaining read, relatable for kids in that age group, and once I started reading (having finally gotten over the dread of reading something that I knew I wouldn’t like) I couldn’t put it down. There’s a laugh on every page, the writing is really smart and full of humor, and the characters jump off the page like they could be real kids. I definitely recommend it, especially to younger readers and even to older ones who need a good dose of nostalgia.