Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1

Book review by Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 9+

Laugh-out-loud-funny series start tucks lessons in stories.

Parents say

age 9+

Based on 106 reviews

Kids say

age 8+

Based on 309 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Main character is a bad influence

My 6 year old picked up reading quickly and independently got into the Wimpy Kid series. Excited to support his reading habits we kept buying him books from the series without thought or research. Reading a couple of chapters here and there I intentionally pointed out to my son that the main character, Greg, was rude, a bad friend, and not to be copied, but since there weren't any adult themes and social skills have always been a strength for my kid, I never worried too much about it. Flashforward a year or so and we have a 7-year-old with the bad attitude of a full-blown sitcom teenager. Thinking this was a stage or some sort of pandemic-related issue, I continued to try to address the attitude without even thinking to blame this book series he has been constantly reading, and re-reading. However, after I finally sat down to watch the movie with my son the painful truth become undeniable. My son was absolutely a carbon copy of Greg. I realized, in the book series, Greg is his own hero. Even though Greg's attitude causes him many problems, Greg doesn't see himself as the issue and my son is too young to understand that very important nuance. Developmentally, my son takes the text at face value. He sees what Greg sees and has thereby learned being funny and cool means acting like a cocky, self-absorbed, jerk. To be honest, Bart Simpson would be a better role model. IF your kids are older this book might be more appropriate, however by that point I believe the reading level would be far too low. Elementary and middle school kids are trying to find themselves. It's normal for them to try on the attitudes and behaviors of the people and characters they see. Do yourself and your kid a giant favor and skip the Dairy of the Wimpy Kid book series. You're not missing anything.
5 people found this helpful.
age 10+

Don’t give in- there are much better options

Greg Heffley, is a lying video game addict who manipulates his friends, disrespects his parents, and doesn’t show personal growth to speak of in the story. I’ll break that down with details for you. Greg is a liar. He lies to his parents, his teachers, his friends, and his peers. He’s not just any liar: he’s a skilled, sneaky one. For example, when his dad tells him to go play outside, Greg goes to a friend’s house and plays video games. Then he soaks himself in a sprinkler so it looks like he’s been running around working up a sweat, thereby deceiving his dad. On another occasion, Greg deceives his friend’s parents by sneaking in a forbidden violent video game in the case of an educational one. Let’s talk about the video games. Greg lives for his video games, and he prefers violent ones. He describes car-racing as too babyish, and resents his friend’s contentment with such boring games. The more violent the game, the cooler for Greg. When Christmas comes, he sulks about not getting the particularly violent video game he wants and is ungrateful for all his other presents. Greg has a rather sweet, slightly immature best friend, Rowley, whom he manipulates and bullies. He beats up Rowley using all the same moves his own brother used to beat him up. He makes fun of Rowley’s simpler tastes in video games and humor. On one occasion, he convinces Rowley to ride a big wheel down a hill repeatedly while Greg throws a football at his head to try to knock him off. This is the great friendship in the book, and I actually found it truly sad to read. Greg has a abysmal view of adults in general. He considers them dumb and easily tricked. Unfortunately, in this story the adults are rather dumb and easily tricked. He repeatedly gets around video game grounding by sneaking off to game at his friend Rowley’s house. He tricks Rowley’s parents by sneaking in video games they have expressly forbidden in their home. Greg’s teachers are also sometimes taken in by his lies. The ending of the book is supposed to provide a shade of redemption in one area of Greg’s life at least: he finally does something kind for Rowley. But here’s the problem: the kind act is telling a lie to get Rowley out of an embarrassing predicament. At this point, I was asking, really, Jeff Kinney? That’s the best redemptive moment you can come up with? There are miscellaneous other problematic areas of the book. One that really bothered me was a scenario where Greg’s older brother left a bikini pictures magazine laying out and Greg’s littler brother took it to show and tell. This is supposed to be hilarious; it’s most certainly not what I want my 8-12 year old laughing about. There is also extensive potty humor, lots of bullying at the school, a scene where the angry dad throws objects at Greg, and really resentful sibling relationships. All things considered, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is one of the last books I’d ever give my child to read. Don’t fall into the trap of believing junk food books like this are all is out there for your reluctant reader! There are so, so many better books out there! Check out my lists for 8 to 9 year olds , 10 to 11 year olds, and Graphic Novels and Comic Books for some awesome alternative options! (Reposting this review because it was the most helpful, on point review I read.)
2 people found this helpful.

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