Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday so here's my opinion of what I've been reading lately:

Recently it has become a fad for second and third graders to check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  Because these books are on our Wildcat Favorites, I only allow students to check them out if the book is on their reading level because these are the most popular books and students are always waiting to check them out.  So, I decided it might be time to read these books and see what all the fuss is about.

WARNING:  I have very strong feelings about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and you might not necessarily agree with me.  This is my personal opinion.  You are free to disagree with it.

After reading books one-six in the DOAWK series from cover to cover, I can honestly say that if this series was not already a part of our collection, I would not have added it.  Although I think that the premise behind the books was to get reluctant readers to read, I can find no value in the DOAWK books.  The main character, Greg, bullies his best friend, makes fun of his teachers and friends, finds ways to get out of his responsibilities, makes excuses for his bad behavior and seems to get away with all of it with little to no consequences...none of which I find funny or entertaining.  Greg Heffley is certainly not a role model and doesn't seem to grow in maturity at all throughout the series.  In fact, he seems to regress.   He is supposedly in seventh grade by the sixth book, Cabin Fever, and yet he talks about Santa Claus as if he still believes in him.  Really strange.  But in the first book he is very concerned about being noticed by the "hot" girls at school.  The first book as well as the other books in the series also mention other mature issues such as smoking, kissing, and shaving.  Greg has to take a puberty class in book five: The Ugly Truth. I wonder if that's the reason for the title of that one?  

The interest level of the DOAWK books is marked as 5th-7th grade, but it seems these books are marketed to younger children, especially at Scholastic Book Fairs.  I cannot see how most of the mature topics brought up in these books could be relateable to most elementary students.  Even our fifth graders have to get a parent's permission to sit on the puberty class offered by the county, so I feel justified to say that the content is not appropriate for students below fifth grade.  Yet it is the second and third graders who are so very eager to get their hands on these books in my Media Center.  Granted if the book is not on their reading level, I don't feel guilty in guiding them to a different choice, but what can I do about the second grader who is reading on a fifth grade reading level and wants to check these books out?  It's such a judgement call.  I don't want to censor and I am not going to remove these books from our collection, but I also don't feel I am doing a good job helping that second or third grade child find good reading material that is both reading level and age appropriate if I let him/her walk out with these books.  I am not sure what the answer is.  For now I have moved these books behind the circulation desk in clear view and they are available if someone asks for them, but I don't have them out in the Wildcat Favorites any more.

I might be opening up a can of worms asking this, but do you have an opinion about the DOAWK books?  Do you have other series that you suggest to younger kids who want to check out these books if you feel that DOAWK is a bit too mature for them?  I really would love to find some good alternative series to suggest to my high readers in younger grades.


  1. Thank you, Mrs. Nase, for saying out loud what I've been thinking about the DOAWK series. I can appreciate that the series has "inspired" some reluctant readers, but I struggle to recommend it based on the content. It's the most popular series in my K-5 library, and like you mention, it's usually 2nd-3rd graders who most want the books. I'm with you--I'd love to find some good alternatives to recommend!
    Sandi Ellis

  2. Honestly, I haven't read them (I know I probably should but I have no desire to at all!) The classroom teachers in my school who have read them have the same opinion as you. It's also my 2nd graders that want to check them out and I usually say it's not a good second grade book. I don't feel bad saying that because it's true, even if they can read the words. I won't purchase them and I don't feel bad weeding them as soon as they look remotely shabby!

  3. I'm with Mrs. Lodge. Haven't read them and have no desire to do so - but thank you for your reviews. I'll look at them in a new light...

  4. I am so glad to hear that someone agrees with me! Most of the other teachers at my school think the books are great and actually enjoy reading them. I agree with the points you made above and work hard to distract my students from reading them. Thankfully(in this circumstance), we have a small library and it doesn't include them, but I do have several that bring them from home.