Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Laugh-out-loud-funny series start tucks lessons in stories.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 99 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 253 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The story may make light of troublemaking because it's part of the humor, but there are consequences and lessons kids can easily learn about what the main character should have done. Also, the book may entice kids to start their own journals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A big part of the book's humor is Greg's cluelessness about what would have kept him out of trouble and why his parents, teachers, and friends are upset with him. Readers get this message in the humor. Greg mistreats his underdog friend Rowley more than a few times, but this comes back to haunt him. Greg's parents try hard to lead him in the right direction; his mom is especially formidable in a few situations. Rowley's dad looks up video games on a parent website to see if they have too much violence.

Violence

Greg draws pictures of kids getting pushed around by bullies at school. Teens chase him in a truck and make Rowley eat something disgusting. Greg breaks Rowley's hand in a dangerous stunt.

Sex

Boys notice girls at school. Greg's older brother gets in trouble for letting their baby brother bring a magazine picture of a girl in a bikini to show-and-tell. His mom makes him apologize to all women on paper.

Language

Kids get in trouble in Independent Study for writing down all the swear words they know -- but you don't see any of the words, and it's for a pretty innocent reason. "Jerk," "morons," and "fart" are the strongest words used in the cartoons. Greg tries to listen to his brother's Parent Advisory-labeled music and gets caught.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In an anti-smoking poster contest at school, Greg loses to a kid who he says smokes at least a pack of cigarettes a day.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the first of a blockbuster multi-book series starring middle schooler Greg Heffley, who usually doesn't do the right thing the first time around. His cluelessness about what would keep him out of trouble and why parents, teachers, and friends are upset with him is part of the book's humor, which leads the reader to any lesson Greg should be learning. Parents will appreciate that Rowley's dad researches video games on a parent website to see if they have too much violence. Also, it is clear that Greg's mom is working hard to raise respectful sons.

Wondering if Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 7-year-old Written byMangoFlamingo December 6, 2009

Some of the stuff in this book BUGGED me..

Ok, I only read the first 10 pages in the book store, I admit. But in the first 10 pages the main character talks about sitting between "two HOT GIRLS... Continue reading
Adult Written by4femme May 7, 2010

More Negative Messages to Fill Kids Minds

I am shocked every time I hear an adults say this is a good book. Often, because their child who didn't enjoy reading actually read this book. This remind... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byRaelin33 December 20, 2019

THIS IS NOT A FEMINIST NOVEL!!!!

I read these books as a kid. I loved them. I read them over and over again. But as I read them multiple times, I began to notice how INCREDIBLY sexist these boo... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old October 9, 2009

A must read!

Sweet! I Love This Book! :)

What's the story?

In DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, Greg Heffley gets a journal from his mom ("a JOURNAL, not a diary") and records a middle school year's worth of crazy kid schemes, brushes with bullies, bad units in gym class, bids for student government, school play humiliation, and more.

Is it any good?

Begun in 2004 by a game developer as comics on the site www.funbrain.com, this "novel in cartoons" translates well to book form. Diary of a Wimpy Kid reads like little episodes in clueless middle schooler Greg Heffley's life, with a great sense of humor throughout. Many kids have been there before, so they'll laugh heartily at Greg's mishaps.

Greg's grand schemes -- to become popular (running for treasurer, writing the comic for the school newspaper), get the most candy on Halloween, or build a robot that won't repeat swear words -- are all destined for failure. The reader knows where the flaws are in Greg's half-baked plans, as well as the lesson he doesn't quite get in the end. Writing down your thoughts on actual paper may be old-school in the age of social media, sure, but it still has many benefits -- including privacy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Greg's journal in Diary of a Wimpy Kid . Would you or have you ever kept a journal? Would you include art and humor in your journal? How would yours be unique?

  • What do you think makes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series so popular around the world? 

  • What do you think of Greg's friendship with Rowley? Have you had friendships like that? What would make Greg a better friend?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love school stories and humor

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate