Saturday, March 20, 2010

Books, Reading and the Wimpy Kid



I am an avid reader. I love the look, feel and smell of books. If I had the choice of a two story walk-in closet full of shoes and a library full of books, I'd pick the library-- along with the cool sliding ladder!

My husband, however, only flips through magazines and Best Buy ads.

You can venture a guess on whose footsteps I want our boys to follow.

When we instituted the token system of reading, my boys read every interesting looking book they could find in this house. I would leave books on the kitchen table and next to the couch in hopes of encouraging them to read what *I* wanted them to read.

We were all happy with this arrangement for a while.



The problem was that although they read with purpose (the purpose of earning a token!), they never got lost in the book. I never heard them chuckling or begging to stay up just a little longer so they could read. They did it but didn't LOVE it.

At least not until I gave in and bought the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series of books by Jeff Kinney.

I resisted the Wimpy Kid books for a very long time because of their general sassy attitude. But the need to encourage reading because it's FUN overruled the other objections I had with the series.

Sometimes you have to pick your battles and decide what is the most important. In this particular case, I had to forgo good literary taste in favor of seeing my boys LAUGH OUT LOUD while reading.

They loved the series so much, they have read each book a half dozen times. This was the first set of books that really captured their interest, made them seek out other "fun" books at the library, and really showed them that reading for pleasure is possible. Even for boys!

The movie? It was eh to me.

The main character was selfish, the big brother was mean, and all the middle school angst was tiring. It wasn't even HIGH school drama, y'all. It was MIDDLE school drama!

And yet my boys laughed and laughed and proclaimed it to be an awesome movie. Just add a dozen !!!!! after the word awesome.


An added bonus from all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (and movie) is that one child in particular has been inspired to create his own diary journal a la Gregg Heffley. That's something that this homeschooling momma would not have been able to inspire on her own!

The movie was not epic or profound. It was entertaining (more so for my boys) and gave me the opportunity to ask my boys about their feeeeeelings... :snort:

We talked about what it means to be a good friend (Gregg was a selfish friend for much of the movie) and how some people can get too focused on "being famous" rather than being themselves (per Noah).

Do you let your kids read the Wimpy Kid books? Did they like it? Did you like it? Are you planning to see the movie?

Do you even know what I'm talking about? (Especially you mommies of girls.)

34 comments:

Darcy @ m3b said...

Don't know what you're talking about... but will research.

I also chose to forgo literary genius for books that engage my middle son, and he has been loving "Warriors" which is about cats.

Who knew?

Going to check out the "Diary...." series. Thanks for the recommendation. Appreciate it!

Sneaker Teacher said...

I work with a 5th grader who struggles a lot with reading bc of attention difficulties. He is reading one of the Wimpy Kid books and just like your kiddos, it really sparked his interest. He is otherwise completely uninspired to read but he does like this series. As a teacher, I am ok with kids reading texts that are not "great literature" because reading is reading. My husband is the same way. He has dyslexia and would never sit and read a book, yet he does read magazines, sports articles, and news websites...his comprehension is excellent and he is really smart. As long as you are discussing the aspects of the characters that don't show good qualities etc. I think it's great that you kiddos have found something they really like to read. Have you ever tried the Fudge series? Funny characters but they are Judy Blume and she is a more streamlined author....

Beckypdj said...

I've seen the previews for the movie and thought it looked.....entertaining, a PG movie is hard to come by these days. Peyton liked to read as long as it was a subject matter he enjoyed. The "Hatchet" books by Gary Paulson were his favorites. You might want to check them out if you think your boys would be interested. They are about a boy who survives in the Canadian wilderness.

I love to read, just finished a re-read of "the hiding place" by corrie ten boom. :)

*Jess* said...

I, too, am an avid reader. It breaks my heart to see my almost 8 year old never want to pick up a book and enjoy. We might have to try the Wimpy Kid stuff!

Jac said...

I'm an avid reader as well. Hubby- not so much. My girls just devour books, but my oldest son was never really interested. Whiole I was away at a conference last year I picked up some adventure books for boys thinking that it wouold spark an interest.. nope! What did... teaching his younger brother to read. They are up every night for atleast an hour reading books (or looking at pictures :) together. I'll have to check out that series. I thought the same about Junie B. Jones for the girls but gave in when my MIL bought a whole set of them... haha

Jimmie said...

I've seen the books online but not in person. Sprite loves the look of them, but we don't have any.

I'm a Charlotte Mason HSer -- no twaddle-- and all that. BUT when a child is struggling to LOVE reading, then I think an occasional fluff book is okay. Or maybe even a season of fluff, hoping for maturity into better books.

For us it was Junie B. Jones. Silly. Fluff. But, hey, a Twinkie every now and then won't kill you.

Caveat -- keep reading classics and quality literature to them outloud so they keep the taste for the good stuff.

Melissa Stover said...

not with this particular book, but we just had a similar experience with another book.

Christine said...

I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm not an avid reader. My kids are doomed. LOL. Not really...they love books. I love you!!!

Beth said...

I just saw this movie on our theater's marque. I haven't read the books, and my Emma (8) hasn't shown an interest in them....yet. I know what you mean about wanting your kids to choose the books YOU want them to read--I'm guilty of this, too!! Emma is much more likely to read the books I'd like her to read, but Owen? Well, let's just say I can see the Wimpy Kid books and even Captain Underpants in our future (and, let me add, I can't stand the Captain U books!!), but anything to get them reading, right? That's the whole idea behind all the graphic novels I suppose.

beth

40winkzzz said...

as far as the questionable content (i read all about it on your fb!)-- eh, we all tend to want to keep our kids away from that stuff, and with good reason. BUT, it can also be an opportunity to discuss right and wrong behavior, as you have done. you can also level with your boys that there are a lot of things you don't like about that books, but that it's important to you that they enjoy reading, so your "compromising" a little-- and add that you'd better not see ANY compromised behavior bc of the books, or they go! (the books, not the kids.)

as for the "fluff" issue-- yeah, what jimmie said. if you are still reading good quality lit aloud to them, they should develop an ear for the good stuff. (i will have to remember to repeat her "twinkie" mantra as i cringe on saturday mornings when hubz and kidz are sitting in front of those abominable cartoons.)

40winkzzz said...

ack! i wrote "your" instead of "you're", and now it is out there for all the world to see. i wish blogger would let me edit comments. i feel so ashamed...

Emily said...

I've never heard of it, but hearing your child LAUGH out loud while reading is amazing. My kids reading Garfield or The Far Side is the same thing...uh, only their comic books...moving along.

You're the mom, you decide what's best for your kidlets. I for one trust your judgment, as your tone in your posts is very wise. Silly AND wise, so these books seem like a good fit. :)

Ali said...

We struggled for awhile too, until we started reading the Series of Unfortunate Events books. I was leery of them at first, but it really sparked their interest. I am going to look into the wimpy kid books too. If it's funny, my kids will love them!

Ali

Anonymous said...

My son has fallen in love with reading after the books Robot Wars books you recommended back in December. He received two for Christmas and has read all 5 of them since then! We do not read the Wimpy Kid series. Reading the Robot Wars book has made him not afraid to pick up thicker books he would have not touched before. Thanks Again!

Michelle said...

yay! thanks for sharing. Emily has been wanting to read these books and I was not sure if they would be okay or not. And yes, we are planning to see the movie. We're gonna wait for it to come out on dvd first.

I love reading. Sometimes I get so lost in a book, it's 2:00 am before i put it down.

RaD said...

I know what you mean about the "sassy" feel to books. I feel the same way about Junie B Jones (or at least the very few chapters I have read). My son (who just turned eight) liked Flat Stanley for a time. But we really haven't gotten that connection with books either. We recently participated in Six Flags Read to Succeed at our school and that got them both reading for a time, but it's kinda fizzled out now :(

I had a homeschool mom once tell me a similar story to yours, that she just couldn't get her son interested in reading until Captain Underpants came around. She resisted it for a while too, because she didn't want him reading about a boy who ran around in his underwear, but then gave in to get him reading. Whatever works I guess.

Susan said...

I've seen those books around, but thankfully my girls have not noticed. I let them choose some of the twaddle type books on occasion. Phia love Beverly Cleary books. All of them. But I try to mix in the good books with school, and let them choose some lighter books. Right now Belle is totally into The Borrowers. She loves them. American Girl, Bobbsey Twins, Boxcar Children, Little House, Nancy Drew, Happy Hollisters, Trixie Belden are ones that we have enjoyed. I admit I was a strictly no twaddle book mom, but then I had to lighten up. IT isn't the end of the world if they are reading something that isn't totally educational. And a twaddle book is better than watching tv, since reading is actively engaging the mind. (don't worry, we do watch tv...just saying)

GlowinGirl said...

I've seen these books but haven't checked them out yet. My boys LOVE to read, but I've never worried too much about what they read as long as it wasn't inappropriate.

I'll have to look into these though -- they sound funny!

I also wanted to say that I think you're blog is beautiful, and here's an award for you!

http://sugartails-glowingirl.blogspot.com/2010/03/surprised-by-beauty.html

Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home said...

My kids have been reading these from the library, and my 8yos just asked me to buy him the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book, where you fill in your own stories. The kids are having lots of fun with that.

They've also been loving Mad Libs lately, and enjoying working together to make crazy stories.

Beth@Pages of Our Life said...

We haven't discovered these. My youngest just for the first time was able to get sucked into a book and the funny thing is it wasn't until he got to the end of it that it happened. It's the series by N.D. Wilson. Interestingly, He was homeschooled and writes very well. The great thing is now the youngest wants to read the rest of the series. I've had to do the same thing though as you said..give them something that may not have been on the top list. Thanks for the info. I always love reading what other moms are finding out there.

Ruthanne said...

I busted out when you said, "Not even high school drama. Middle School drama, y'all."

I'm scared!

Christine Sweet said...

yep, no idea. But I enjoyed the read nevertheless. :) Found your blog through "GlowinGirl". When I read your profile, I laughed. We seem awfully similar. At least on paper. :) Anyway, thanks for having something interesting to say. :)

Karen said...

I am a big reader. My firstborn daughter is a huge reader...asked for all of Austen's and Alcott's books for her birthday. My twelve year old son takes after his dad, an engineer, who only reads technical engineering mags. That twelve year old only reads "technical" Lego mags. So, I started him on Hank the Hounddog (or is it cowdog??). He laughed out loud so many times and went through the series. I held my breath. Back to only Lego mags again. UGG. May try the Robot Wars you posted earlier or these.

Gwen Toliver said...

I do have boys - 3 of them, and 4 girls and I've never heard of the Wimpy Kid books. But I'll admit you have me curious!!

Both my husband and I are avid book readers, and I think the thing that has helped our 7 turn into book lovers is that they see us reading, PLUS we spend lots of time doing read alouds - even from the time they're just a few months old. (and I mean good books, not twaddle like Charlotte Mason would say!) :)

Nikowa Lee said...

Oh these are on our wishlist! :)

EEEEMommy said...

I love you, Marsha! What a great post!
A friend from our church (home school graduate, college student) turned my son on to this series, and my son couldn't put them down. I can't say I was thrilled, but then again, he recently asked if he could borrow my Anne of Avonlea as he had finished Anne of Green Gables, and he's been plowing through that series now, unable to put them down, so that makes it easier to chill out! ;) I don't know that I can endure the movies though. We may just wait until they come out on DVD and he can watch them at someone else's house. ;)

EEEEMommy said...

Oh and I'd pick books over shoes any day, and I've always wanted one of those library ladders! :)

DawnyGirl said...

Finding quality reading material for boys is so hard. When you go to the bookstore there are shelves full of stuff for girls and one cart full for the boys. I have 3 boys - all that LOVE to read, thankfully, but finding appropriate material is TOUGH. My middle son, a 5th grader, reads at a 10th gradelevel and it is such a struggle to find fun books that challenge his reading but yet are still age appropriate.

After lots of digging, here are some that got rave reviews at our house:
The Passages series by Paul McCusker
The Wormling Series by Jerry Jenkins
Landon Snow Series by RK Mortenson
The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers
The Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson
The Isle of Swords series by WT Batson

Most of these can be found at Christian bookstores. Enjoy!

DawnyGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DawnyGirl said...

PS - these books are on a 4-6th grade level. And if your kids go to a public school who uses the Accelerated Reader program, all of these books are on the list.

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

Thanks for the book suggestions DawnyGirl! I tried to reply to you but your email is not linked. :(

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I've just recently heard about the books, seeing them on bookstore shelves displayed -probably because of the movie.
I'm right there with you on wanting my kids to LOVE reading as much as I do. Our husbands sound similar too:) Mark reads all day for his job but to just sit down and get lost in a book, I've never seen him do that. I grew up with both parents reading and my sister married a reader and she of course hopes her boys grow to love to read too.
My daugther's been reading The Little House books and is really njoying them. She loved the Diary of a Worm-not great literature but a funny little book. My son who's 5goes to bed with his little picture books because he says "I can read like Ashley" I'm hoping that will translate as he gets older into a true love for reading!

Lori @ Just Pure Lovely said...

I'd absolutely choose the library, too! I cannot get enough of books, either.

I remember letting go and letting our now-teen read all he wanted of the Calvin & Hobbes comics. Reading is reading, right? The only prob has been that he has some witty comebacks to me sometimes, thanks to Calvin. (I always think it's funny, too).

Amy in Peru said...

I do have mixed feelings on this as we are at the same spot. I felt that Roald Dahl (some sauciness) was a compromise as well as Redwall (kind of violent at points)...

but my opinion is too long to articulate here (I'm not sure I could do it justice even if I wanted to anyway...)

My boys have found some fun books that they REALLY enjoy. But, I still have the same problem, getting my boys to appreciate reading GOOD books on their own...
solution? no idea :)

we just keep on keeping on. learning as we go :) maybe I'll have better luck on my second round of kids... heheh.

amy in peru