- Books, Literature, and Writing
Greg Heffley Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Voted Top Book By Kids
I'm the mother of a teenage boy and keen to encourage him to read so when I heard that The Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is tops with kids - officially - I was all ears and keen to find out more about this fantastically popular book that I hadn't even heard of.
The Wimpy Kid is more popular than Harry Potter - even!
Kids will read books they love so why not give them what they like? Get them into the reading habit and they'll progress to bigger and better things, but turn them off reading when young and they might never return. My son was brought up on Harry Potter, he chose Captain Underpants for himself and I passed on my copy of the UK 'wimpy kid' The Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend and he loved it. Now another wimpy kid comes along to get our children reading.
Greg Heffley is a kid, aged about 12, who's struggling through middle school - hilariously. Author Jeff Kinney wanted to write about childhood from the point of view of children, "about the funny parts of growing up". He uses the humorous events in his own, uneventful and 'ordinary' childhood as the basis for this Diary.
What started out as an on-line diary in website soon took on a life of its own and the Wimpy Kid can be found in book form and in film, where Zachary Gordon plays Greg. Quite a phenomenon for a cartoon stick man.
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Who is Greg Heffley? - The Wimpy Kid comes from a diary written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley was 'born' in 2004 in the online educational browser game website 'FunBrain'. The hardcover book version of the Diary was released on April 1, 2007 and it was immediately applauded - Diary of a Wimpy Kid became the New York Times bestseller among awards and praise. It wasn't long before the first film of the book emerged in 2010. The Wimpy Kid has never looked back.
Greg Heffley became a series of books: Rodrick Rules, The Last Straw, Dog Days, The Ugly Truth, Cabin Fever, The Third Wheel and finally, Hard Luck was released in 2013.
Jeff Kinney said he "wanted to write a story about the funny parts of growing up". He admits he had an ordinary sort of childhood, but "lots of humorous stuff happened along the way". The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is, according to Kinney, what it was really like to be a kid - for him at least.
Wimpy Kid First Choice in Blue Peter Book Awards 2012
And nominated for the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2009
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book, by Jeff Kinney the 2009 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards along with the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling and the Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight was the winner). In the UK in 2012 it was Wimpy Kid who came tops when the children of Britain voted for their favorite book.
Kids out there love you, Greg Heffley.
Who is Jeff Kinney?
Jeffrey Patrick Kinney was born in 1971 in Fort Washington, U S. He attended the University of Maryland at College Parkand it was here that Kinney created his first cartoon, the comic strip, Igdoof, which featured in the campus newspaper and his ambition to be a cartoonist was born - and then thwarted as his drawings were not deemed to be good enough to enter into that field as a profession.
Instead he ventured into the virtual world of web site design and in 2004 he launched 'FunBrain' an educational browser game website for children featuring the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
An Interview With Jeff Kinney and Reluctant Readers - Boys!
Woman's Hour BBC Radio 4 First broadcast: Friday 06 December 2013
This is where I first heard of Jeff Kinney (who, along with Roadl Dahl and J K Rowling, is one of the most popular authors for children) on the radio - and this is what he had to say about The Wimpy Kid and his own life and ambitions.
When Jeff Kinney first created Greg Heffley, it was with an adult audience in mind, and this remained so for 8 years. Why comic form? Kinney describes how he was born to be a cartoonist, how his father read comics in the morning, but he has to admit that his drawings not good enough to make the grade as a political cartoonist. It wasn't long before The Kid evolved.
So just who is Greg? According to Kinney he's about 12, 'self obsessed, subversive and geeky. When asked if Greg is autobiographical Kinney replies that "It's the autobiography of every 12 or 13 year old at the worst time in his life".
When asked where ideas for Greg's adventures come from, Kinney reveals that they are just the everyday, ordinary experiences of an ordinary boy, not at all like the magical wizard kid and top competitor when it comes to book sales - Harry Potter.
Kinney reckons that the Harry Potter series of books are 'proper books' and Kinney thinks that his Wimpy Kid books can help kids get into 'proper books'. - although he points out that he didn't set out with the express goal to get kids reading. Why do boys like Greg so much? Because they think they're funny. Simple!
Will Greg always remain 12 or will he, like Harry, grow up? Well, Greg's best friend gets a girlfriend, she turns out to be bossy and more mature than the boys and, of course, typically this changes the boys' relationships. So no, Greg will not grow up. According to Jeff Kinney, the best cartoon characters don't age - look at Charlie Brown who is 75 years old now.
Jeff was surprised and then gratified when he began to hear from parent s and teachers saying how much their 'reluctant readers' (a code word for 'boys' according to Kinney) liked the books - apparently because they se them as fun rather than work.
Today he has 70,000 children a day reading his work - is that power? No, says Jeff, it's responsibility? Very responsible. While there's no 'message' in the stories, Jeff does try not to change a kids life in a bad way. He only wants to persuade children that reading can be fun.
Boys and Reading
So, what do boys like reading? They like pictures and action, according to boys being interviewed for this programme, and Treasure Island and was mentioned by one lad and Captain Underpants is a favourite of Jeff's own son. How can we improve things for boys? Abigale Moss deputy director of national literacy trust says that boys are falling behind girls from an early age and there is always a 10% gap between the sexes that seems to be widening. At age of 5 the gap is 11%, less in primary school but then in secondary school it's up to 12%. and this applies right across social groups.
Why? Surveys suggest that boys enjoy reading less, they read less, they think reading is for girls - is it a feminised leisure activity. Now the researchers have found that this is not biological.
What can you do as a parent? Jeff Kinney and his wife both read to their kids every night and the fact that both parents read is important as a key factor is role modeling. Boys need to see and hear fathers reading. Almost twice as many fathers never read as compared to mothers.
Make reading social. In the best schools books are talked about and reading is a social activity. Audio books part of that culture. You might be pleased and surprised to know that reading on line is OK too. It doesn't matter how you read, it's what you read that counts.
Go for variety. When it comes to how reading is carried out girls use more technological devices than boys. Girls read more fiction and poetry in books. But what about boys and on line games. Jeff Kinney produces these games - that's how Greg started out - but he does admit that when it comes to his own kids, he limits screen time - a task that even he finds "a huge challenge" and "exhausting".
Jeff Kinney Talks About Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel. - And explains where his idea for Greg Heffley came from
Jeff Kinney talks about how Greg heffley, the Wimpy Kid, came about and introduces his book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel.
More Teenage Wimpy Kids in Books
It's the same story the world over!
Captain Underpants and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend - More wimpy kids
In a radio program recently (Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4) during a discussion about boys' reluctance to read, children commented on their favourite books - The Wimpy Kid was one and another that scored highly is Captain Underpants featuring two fourth graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins and their headmaster Mr Krupp who metamorphoses into Captain Underpants. This book won a Disney Adventures Kids' Choice Award in 2007 and up until now (2013) over 50 million books had been sold in the United States alone. Captain Underpants is popular with boys in the UK too and my son's copy was given to him by his cousin - what better recommendation?
If you love Greg Heffley, you might also like another wimpy kid - Adrian Mole. 'Adrian Mole Aged 13 and 3/4' by Sue Townsend is a side-splittingly funny diary supposedly written by a priggish young teenager consumed with lust for Pandora and filled with angst and worries about his health.
My son loved these books when he was 7 or 8 and still does take a look from time to time. My biggest grouse (apart from the boy's humour, was that mis-spelled words are included in the text - I had enough problems with spelling without this sort of confusion. I went through the book and corrected them (bad mother!).
When we were young we loved to read about Adrian Mole's worries, loves and life. Hilariously funny, this book is a great insight into the mind of a young teenager.
Titeuf by Zep is Another Cartoon Character About a Wimpy Kid - This time he's French
Yet another 'wimpy teenage kid' that I love is the French cartoon character Titeuf, but unfortunately I can't find any books in English. For those of you who read French, I can thoroughly recommend these books, although, be warned, they are a bit rude and in parts quite disgusting - as you might expect from a book about the inner life of a teenage boy!
Watch out for it in English.
The title of this book is 'God, sex and Suspenders' in English, and it gives you a flavor of the Titeuf books - it's a bit rude, be warned, the French really are more relaxed about sex.
This one was published in 1992
When my son was coming up to puberty I bought him the Titeuf guide to sex education which I thought covered the ground and was great fun.
Where Did I Get My Information? - Links to my sources
Do You Love Greg Heffley? - Are you a Wimpy Kid fan?
What do you think of Diary of a Wimpy Kid?
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