Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is a really fun series to read, but not every child is the right age to enjoy it. It is important to know if a kid is old enough to read and understand this book series.
The best age to start reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is about 10-years-old. The series is intended for kids from about 8-12 years old, but children younger than 10-years-old may struggle to understand the humor or to relate to the main character who is a student at a middle school.
There are a few things you should know about the series before you decide if this is a good series for your child to read.
The intended audience is ages 8-12, but there are things that younger or older kids can enjoy about the series. I started reading this series when I was about 7-years-old, but I read new books until I was about 14. I realized as I got older that a lot of the plot and jokes flew over my head for the first few years. I most enjoyed and understood the series from when I was 11-years-old. It is harder for elementary kids that don’t know anything about middle school, which is the age at which the book takes place, to understand and relate to the protagonist.
There are currently 16 books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, though the author publishes a new book about once a year in October or November, and there are a few spin off novels, such as The Awesome Friendly Kid Series.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid
- Rodrick Rules
- The Last Straw
- Dog Days
- The Ugly Truth
- Cabin Fever
- The Third Wheel
- Hard Luck
- The Long Haul
- Old School
- Double Down
- The Getaway
- The Meltdown
- Wrecking Ball
- The Deep End
- Big Shot
Diary of a Wimpy Kid follows a middle school student named Greg Heffley. He gets himself into all kinds of trouble in his quest for popularity, which he never does end up finding. As the series progresses, he doesn’t age or develop much as a character. He is locked in a continuous state of adolescence. Each book has an overarching plotline and a few smaller plot arcs that span one or two days/chapters.
- Greg Heffley: the main character/narrator
- Rowley Jefferson: Greg’s best friend who is very loyal and doesn’t care what people think of him
- Rodrick Heffley: Greg’s older brother who likes to bully him
- Manny Heffley: Greg’s younger brother who his parents spoil
- Mom and Dad: Greg’s parents who are supportive and overall good parents
- Ensemble of Greg’s wacky classmates
These books are easy to read, written in the style of a middle school boy. There are a lot of fun cartoon drawings to accompany the book and give the reader some visuals. The books are pretty short and a quick read.
The books are supposed to be comedic, and there is a lot of sarcasm. The humor is about a middle school level, so any children that are younger will not likely understand much of it.
Good Things About the Books
I loved reading these books as a kid, and they were a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the jokes and the story. The main character is relatable to middle school kids, and the conflicts are ordinary situations that are made fun and interesting by the narrative. I would always keep an eye out for new books because I was always very excited to see what crazy situations Greg would get himself into next.
This series is funny, and the protagonist is easy to relate to. It helped teach me how ridiculous it was to seek popularity after all of the trouble that Greg goes through to get it; he always ends up failing and finding something else to be happy about.
Greg rarely ends up getting what he wanted at the beginning of each book, but the books still end on positive notes. Sometimes he finds something better or learns to be happy with what he has. Either way, each book ends happily, but Greg still learns an important lesson.
Bad Things About the Books
Greg is very concerned with popularity throughout the series. He tends to steamroll other characters, particularly his best friend, Rowley, to get what he wants. He consistently puts his interests ahead of those of others, making lots of selfish choices. Though there are often consequences to his actions, he never quite seems to learn his lesson or fully understand that what he is doing is wrong. He is portrayed as a funny, likable jerk character. At the end of each book, he tends to learn a lesson about how his behavior is affecting others–which he immediately forgets in the next book.
Greg makes a lot of bad choices, but the one he chooses to do most often is to lie. Many of his plot problems are centered around lying, such as when he chases some kindergartners around with worms and blames it on Rowley. Another of his main flaws is his treatment of Rowley. Greg is a terrible friend who seems to think that Rowley is just around to do whatever he wants. Rowley is not a very assertive person, so he tends to go along with Greg, not caring that he never gets any kind of
The series makes it clear that, though Greg is the protagonist, this kind of behavior is not okay. However, it is important that, before a child reads it, they understand that how Greg acts is not how they should be acting. They should have a good sense of right and wrong before reading this series, and it may be good to have a talk with them about what behaviors they should not be copying and why it is not okay to act that way.
There are also a lot of bathroom jokes in this series. There is a decent amount of fart, butt, booger, and poop jokes in this series, which some parents might not like their children reading about.
Maybe try reading one of the books yourself so that you can make a reasonable judgment call about whether or not you want your child reading these books. I would say as long as your child knows what kind of behavior is expected of them to be a good and considerate person, they shouldn’t have any problems reading this series.