Ten Books for Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Gigi McAllister
Recently our district held parent-teacher conferences. Happily, several parents shared their excitement with how much their child was enjoying reading this year. One parent expressed some concern because her son only seemed to want to read and reread the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Middle graders love the Wimpy Kid series and I am often asked this same question. After I shared how rereading can be beneficial and we need to honor his choices, I offered to give her a list of other series he might also enjoy.
Here are ten series that may appeal to Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans.
The Creature from my Closet series by Obert Skye
In this series twelve year old Rob (who dislikes reading) discards the books his parents buy for him in his closet. These books mix with old science lab materials to create different creatures that are a combination of book characters. Each creature causes mayhem and lots of laughs as Rob tries to contain them.
The Big Nate Series by Lincoln Peirce
The Big Nate books emerged from the Big Nate comic strips that began in 1991. My fourth graders just adore this series and there are lots of books (comics and graphic novels) to choose from. Nate is precocious and trouble just seems to find him.
The Timmy Failure Series by Stephan Pastis
Timmy Failure may just be the worst detective ever. With his sidekick, a huge polar bear named Total, Timmy attempts to solve cases for their detective agency, Total Failure, Inc. Kids enjoy watching Timmy as he misses obvious clues and draw completely incorrect and hilarious conclusions.
The Origami Yoda Series by Tom Angleberger
When students read this series, be prepared to find little origami Yoda’s and other Star Wars characters all over the classroom. When Dwight, a sixth grader who does not seem to fit in, creates an origami Yoda finger puppet, things start to change at school. Yoda (who speaks in Yoda-speak through Dwight) can predict the future and gives just the right advice to anyone who asks. Dwight and Yoda become quite popular as students ask Yoda for advice. Dwight’s friend Tommy investigates to try to find out how Yoda can know so much, while Dwight seems to be socially clueless. With books entitled: Darth Paper Strikes Back, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee and Jabba the Puppet, fans of Star Wars will especially love this series.
My Life Series by Janet and Jake Tashjian
In the first book in the series, Derek Fallon has been labeled a “reluctant reader” because he loves reading Calvin and Hobbes comics and little else. One summer day, while avoiding his assigned readings, Derek stumbles upon an interesting newspaper clipping that has been tucked away for years. He works hard for the rest of the summer trying to unravel this mysterious family secret. One aspect my student (and I) love about this series are the illustrated vocabulary words in the margins. Janet Tashjian’s son Jake illustrates the words’ meanings simply so students can learn them.
The Star Wars Jedi Academy Series by Jeffrey Brown
Star Wars fans and fans of graphic novels in my class enjoy this series. Although the main character Roan has always wanted to be a pilot, he is recruited to attend Jedi Academy where he is training to be a Jedi and is learning to use the force from Master Yoda. Roan goes through many awkward “middle schoolish” situations in his training that will tickle the funny bone of middle grade readers. The engaging format includes cartoons, journals, news clippings, and doodles.
Raina Telgemeier Graphic Novels
Boys and girls alike love Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels. The illustrations combined with the hilarious, and often awkward, situations keep them reading and rereading this series. Knowing that the events are based on the authors own experiences makes the book that much more entertaining. Smile, Drama and Sisters have been circulating among my students all year.
The I Funny Series by James Patterson
The concept of this series is unique. The Middle school years can be tough for most kids and Jamie Grimm is no exception. Jamie is living with his aunt and uncle in a new town. He is bullied by Stevie who torments him despite the fact that Jamie is in a wheelchair. Through it all, Jamie doesn’t lose his sense of humor. In fact he calls himself the “sit-down stand-up comic” and enters The Planet’s Funniest Kid contest at the urging of his uncle. Fans of Patterson’s Middle School series will also love I Funny.
The Charlie Joe Jackson Series by Tommy Greenwald
Charlie Joe does not enjoy reading. In fact, the first book in the series is dedicated to telling the reader how to get away with NOT reading in school. However, the students need to read the book to get his advice. This leads to them wanting to read the next book and the next book in this entertaining series.
The Odd Squad Series by Michael Fry
This series empowers anyone who has ever felt like a misfit. Nick, Molly and Carl do not seem to fit the mold of typical middle schoolers. Because Nick is constantly bullied, the school counselor puts him on the school Safety Patrol with Molly and Karl in an attempt to protect him. This band of oddballs discovers they are more powerful together as they deal with the difficulties of middle school.
Gigi McAllister has been a teacher for 20+ years. She is currently a fourth grade teacher in Gorham, Maine. She blogs about books and classroom practices at The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog. You can also find her on Twitter @GigiMcAreads.
The Stick Dog series by Tom Watson also fits into this category. Kids love it!
Yes! Great one to add! Thank you!
What a great list to hand to concerned parents, administrators and even other teachers! I’ll be sure to keep this list handy! Thanks, Gigi!
As a children’s lead at Barnes&Noble I highly recommend Joe Nesbo’s Dr. Protector’s Fart Powder Series, it’s a nice step up from the simple diary style with more words but still in the diary style and silly subject theme. A winner from a pro.
Thanks for your support Lesley!
Great list Gigi. Thank you so much. I’m going to forward it to my son’s 4th grade reading teacher. My son doesn’t like this kind of reading, but I know lots and lots of kids do.
Thank you Kimberly!
Thank you so much! My second-grader has just finished very single DIARY OF A WIMPY KID book, and we are looking for something to tide him over.
Big Nate books😊
Now I want to read these!
Thanks so much!
Great post, and great list, Gigi! Especially timely as we have Parent-Teacher conferences coming up soon.
Was wondering if you have recommendations for books similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but written for slightly younger audience. I teach 3rd grade, and many of my students love DOWK, but the reading level is often too high for them. Would love to be able to start with an easier level books as a sort of bridge or ladder to the Diary books.
Great question Allison. The Dragon Breath Series is a popular younger series. Big Nate is fairly easy to read as are the Stink Series, Alvin Ho, Amelia Rules, Stick Dog, and Shredderman. Hope this helps a bit.
That helped a lot! Thanks, Gigi!
Some of my students will only read graphic novels as well. WE have fallen in love with the graphic histories series. I bought ones that applied to the American Revolution. The kids absolutely love them.
Ooh, I will have to look for them. Thanks!
Are the above books appropriate for 2nd grader?
Big Nate and Jedi Academy probably are. The content of the others is not appropriate for 2nd graders. Have you tried The Notebook of Doom series by Scholastic? Great for 2nd graders.
Great article. I enjoyed all the alternate selections, and I look forward to checking out your blog 🙂
Thank you Dianna!
Great list of suggestions here Gigi! Charlie Joe Jackson and My Life As a Book are two of my all time favorites for hooking those more resistant readers. I’m happy to see them highlighted on your list! Elle McDoodle and The Popularity Papers would fit nicely on this list if someone is looking for a similar series where the main character is a girl.
Yes, my students love them. I
I was thinking of doing a separate post with female characters . Maybe another time.
Thanks for including me in your great list! Best, Janet
I should thank you! My students love your books.
FEBRUARY 9, 2015
Thank you for the great post! I constantly have the same problem in my classroom and it is nice to have a great list of books to give to parents and to go to when reluctant readers are struggling to find a new book. Thank you!