10 Books for Kids Obsessed with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

They’re the books that got many reluctant readers turning pages, but what to do once they’ve finished them all? It’s a question I hear often when I work in the Children’s Room. Parents want to keep the interest going, and are keen to know which other books  will appeal to their DOAWK fans.

A couple of the attractions of this series for reluctant readers is that there are pictures, which provides a text break and makes reading feel more manageable, and humor, which makes them fun rather than work. Here are 10 suggestions for books that hit those sweet spots with middle grade readers.


Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis. Meet Timmy Failure, the founder, president, and CEO of the best detective agency in town, probably the nation. And his lazy sidekick, Total, a 1,500-pound polar bear.

Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look. Frightened by everything out in the world and completely quiet at school, Asian-American second-grader Alvin Ho becomes a force to be reckoned with at home when he transforms himself into the loud, talented, and fearless Firecracker Man!

How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon.

Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. Tommy and his friends interact with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, to try and figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future.

Tom Gates series by Liz Pinchon. Irritating his teachers with his lack of focus and creative excuses, Tom Gates spends his time drawing pictures and writing down observations about everything from his grumpy sister and annoying classmate to an unsatisfying camping trip.


The Odd Squad series by Michael Fry. When his school counselor insists that he needs better socialization skills after being stuffed into a locker by a bully, middle-schooler Nick finds himself, along with two other misfits, joining the school’s lamest club: Safety Patrol.

Clueless McGee series by Jeff Mack. Clueless McGee is just your average fifth-grader: snarky, awkward, and a magnet for trouble. The only difference: he’s also an amateur detective. Determined to make his absent father proud, he uses the skills he’s learned playing video games to solve mysteries.

The Terrible Two books by Mac Barnett and Jory John. Disgusted when he has to move from the oceanside community where he was infamous for his tricks to a sleepy, cow-filled town that already has a notable prankster, Miles plots mischief that culminates in a daring partnership.

Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton. Take a peek inside the diaries of middle schoolerJamie Kelly – she’s cool (sometimes), nice (mostly), and funny (always). She’s the nerd, the cute girl, the jealous girl, and the brainiac all wrapped up in one.

The Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renée Russell. Through journal entries, sketches, and drawings, the complicated life of eighth grader Nikki Maxwell is presented –  her relationship with her mother, secret crushes, dealings with her biggest rival at school, passion in pursuing art as a career, and overall views on the world in which she lives.

High Interest Books for Middle Grade Readers

I have talked before about reluctant readers and transitional readers, particularly about finding books that can interest and engage them as they work to become more confident readers. (Check out the list here if this would apply to the books you are looking for). However, my kids are a little older now, so I have spent more time looking for the elusive perfect middle grade book to interest my high energy readers. They both love to read but only if the subject matter and action level meet their specific standards. I know this is a common issue since I have helped many a frustrated parent and child find something to read while working in the children’s room.

Why do I bring this up? Well, this week as I was unpacking a new order of children’s books I was thrilled to see a large number of books that fill this sweet spot of reads that would interest many middle grade readers. Right away I started mentally listing some of the best and realized how many zany, energy packed reads are available.middlegrade1

Here are some high interest, high humor, and high action reads for those who have trouble getting into a book, or who have convinced themselves that reading is boring. These are not readers who have trouble reading, only who are tired of being told what to read or have not found highly entertaining books and might have lost interest in books because of it.

Most of these suggestions are series starters or are by authors who consistently write this style of book, middlegrade2so if you find one that makes your reader happy they will have more to follow it up with.

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier & Douglas Holgate

Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson

Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein

Marvin and the Moths by Matthew Holm and Jonathamiddlegrade3n Follet

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

The Hero Revealed by William Boniface

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt

Wonkenstein by Obert Skyemiddlegrade5

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

My Rotten Life by David Lubar

As usual, I found more books I wanted to include than can fit in a simple list, so more suggestions are: The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, SPHDZ by Jon Scieszka, The Robe of Skulls by Vivian FrenchHerbert’s Wormhole by Peter Nelson and Rohitash Rao, Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke, Dodger and Me by Jordan middlegrade6Sonnenblick, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis, My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara, The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry, The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, and The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson.

Did I miss a book that was a hit with you or a reader you know? Share the title here so we can give it a look too!

My Most Frequently Recommended Children’s Authors

One of my favorite things about working in the library is getting the chance to do favsalanna-the-first-adventurereader’s advisory. This is librarian jargon for answering questions about what book a patron (or their child) might enjoy reading next. On our part it involves discovering what the reader is most interested in, and what kind of books they usually enjoy most. While I might occasionally get stumped in the adult fiction category, when it comes to books for children (or teens) I could go on for hours. We all have our favorites, particularly if given free reign to mention any genre of book we enjoyed, or when we find a patron that has enjoyed some of the same books that we loved as well.

faviconThere are several authors that most parents, librarians, and parents think of first and fondly, such as E.B. White, Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, Judy Blume, Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl, Kate DiCamilloand more. Once the typical go to books have been read, or dismissed by the young reader since the parents suggested them, I have several of my own go to authors that I usually favssisters-grimmrecommend. Here is my “short” list.

Tamora Pierce has several series, all connected by the fantasy world they are set in and some overlapping events and characters. You do not have to read all of the series to enjoy the others. The first series is Song of the Lioness, about a young girl who defies all the odds to become a knight. She has books in both the children’s and young adult sections of the library. Other series include Beka Copper, the Daughter of the Lioness or Trickster series, Circle of Magic, and  Protector of the Small.

favsnerdsMichael Buckley has one stand alone novel (Undertow) for young adults and two wonderful series for children. The Sisters Grimm is a mystery series about orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne Grimm who are sent to live with an eccentric grandmother, who just happens to live in a town with a variety of fairy-tale characters. NERDS is a series that combines all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school. The series features a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities!

Tom Angleberger has a selection of fun and fast paced books that are great for favsmustashreluctant readers. There is Fake Mustache, the Origami Yoda series, the Qwikpick Papers series, and Horton Halfpott.  All of his books have silly humor, illustrations, and realistic characters in less believable situations.

E.D. Baker tends to writes books that take our assumptions about princesses, magic, and fairy tales and makes us look at them with new eyes. First came The Frog Princess which started a series. Soon after came The Wide-Awake Princess and its follow ups. There is also the stand alone (at least so far) A Question of Magic and the start to another series with The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker.

favsfrogOther great authors, that rarely disappoint readers willing to give them a chance include Avi, Shannon Hale, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Stroud, Gail Carson Levine, Ben Hatke, Jennifer Holm, Vivian Velde Vande, Holly Black, Matt Christopher, Diana Wynne Jones, Lois Lowry, Louis Sachar, Jerry Spinelli, Andrew Clements, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Cornelia Funke, and so many more. Still looking for suggestions, or need a specific recommendation for you or your child? Swing by the Children’s Room and any of us will be glad to help and share our favorites!

Great Graphic Heavy Books for Reluctant Readers

Do you have a reader that is sad to find the majority of their books are missing the illustrations that initially drew them to reading in the first place? Or perhaps you have a reader that is a bit intimidated (but refuses to admit it) by books with so much text, and so few illustrations? Perhaps they just think that reading is boring or not fun. Thankfully, graphic heavy books and graphic novels for this age group are increasing in both quality and quantity. This means that there are books out there with an extra dash or excitement and silliness available for readers of all ages.

Here are some great books that just might capture your reader’s eye with graphics, and keep them reading because of the story. The majority of theses books are the first in a series, so if your reader gets hooked, you should have a few books to go before looking for the next title. I have broken the lists down by age group, and by amount of text, to make finding the perfect book just a little easier.

Graphic Novels for Grades 2-5
1. The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future by George Beard and Harold Hutchins
2. Zita the Space Girl: Far from Home by Ben Hatke
3.Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dodgeball Chronicles by Frank Cammuso
4. Babymouse: Queen of the World! by Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm
5.  Fashion Kitty and the Unlikely Hero by Charise Mericle Harper
6. Squish 1: Super Amoeba by Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm
7. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey


Grades 2-5 with more a bit more text:
1. School!: Adventures at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School by Kate McMullan
2. SPHDZ (Spaceheadz series) by Jon Scieszka
3. Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw
4. Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka
5. Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce
6. Justin Case: School, Drool, and other Daily Disasters by Rachel Vail
7. Secret Identity (Shredderman Series) by Wendelin Van Draanen
8. Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon
9. Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight
10. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Grades 5 and Up
1. Coraline (based on the novel by Neil Gaiman) adapted by P. Craig Russell
2. Stickman Odyssey, Book 1: An Epic Doodle by Christopher Ford
3. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
4. Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
5. The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter by John Gosselink
6. Amelia’s Itchy-Twitchy, Lovey-Dovey Summer at Camp Mosquito by Marissa Moss
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal by Jeff Kinney
8. Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell
9. Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles by Karen Romano Young
10. Max Quigley: Technically Not a Bully by James Roy
11. The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow
12. Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg

June is Audiobook Appreciation Month! Did You Know Audiobooks Raise Reading Scores?

Some people consider audiobooks “cheating” or “not really reading”. But did you know including audiobooks in your child’s reading can improve their overall reading abilities? Not to mention, they are lots of fun! Cheshire Library has hundreds of audiobook titles for children and teens,  in both CD and digital formats.

Audiobooks have been used in classrooms for decades because listening builds a another set of skills than visual reading. Oral language precedes written language developmentally, making listening an important component of language acquisition. Audiobooks are a proven resource for teaching reading, at all reading levels. Among the many benefits, listening builds critical vocabulary, comprehension, fluency and listening skills; in fact, adding a listening component to reading instruction has been shown to improve student achievement.


Among the many benefits, audiobooks:

  • reinforce literacy skills.
  • supplement reading instruction to develop a positive attitude towards literature.
  • develop understanding of content area material when decoding or other literacy skills are delayed.
  • model the appropriate use of oral vocabulary, fluent reading, and use of phonics.
  • bring literature from the classroom to home and back on a portable device.

Why not add some audiobooks to your reading list today? In addition to CD audiobooks in our library, audiobooks are also available to download via the library’s online OverDrive  and OneClick Digital catalogs.

[sources: tales2go and School Library Journal]