I remember when my nephew started reading independently. It wasn’t easy; his path to reading was full of resistance. But then he discovered Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and suddenly all he wanted to do was read. He begged to go to the store to get the next book he hadn’t read yet. I saw firsthand the power of these books. They have funny storylines, great characters, and there’s something about a hardback that just makes you feel mature when you’re a kid, you know? All of that, I think, helped bring these books to kids, opening up a whole new world for them. It’s made so many kids look for other book series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Though some people still see graphic novels and illustrated books as “not really reading,” that line of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. Children still need to decode, follow the plot, and understand the storyline and characters, and the visual cues can help with reading comprehension. Reluctant readers and those who have a little trouble with reading may be more apt to read graphic novels because of the visual cues and context they provide. The Wimpy Kid books aren’t graphic novels in the sense of comic strips, but they’re handwritten text with an abundance of illustrations throughout the pages. It’s a fun format that feels more intimate, in a sense, than regular type-set pages with no pictures. Even with type-set pages, lots of illustrations and hand-drawn pictures bring a fun feel to a book, making it feel less like “work” and providing breaks from long walls of text.
There are plenty of wonderful middle grade series out right now, full of fun stories of friendship, family, navigating school and life, and even dealing with some hard stuff. I’ve put together a list of some series that you might want to try if you love the Wimpy Kid books.
Let’s take a look at the best book series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid!
Chunky by Yehudi Mercado
Hudi’s being told that he needs to lose weight by his doctors, and since his parents are worried because of the medical issues he had when he was much younger, his parents encourage him to do sports. Which is the last thing Hudi wants to do. He’s the only Mexican and Jewish kid in his neighborhood, and he doesn’t always fit in. His true love is comedy, and when he meets his imaginary friend Chunky, he’s suddenly got a cheerleader, encouraging him in every way. This is a fun, touching tale of family, friendship, and being true to yourself. If you like this graphic novel, there’s also the follow-up, Chunky Goes to Camp.
Freddie Ramos Takes Off: Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules and Miguel Benitez
This book series is for kids a little younger than the average Wimpy Kid reader (about 5-8), but it’s super cute. In this first book, Freddie comes home from school one day to a package addressed to him that contains magical sneakers that give him super speed — Zapato Power! Will he become the next superhero? This is a great book for reluctant readers because of the format; it’s very similar to Wimpy Kid, with short chapters and lots of drawings that will keep them interested.
Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper
This is one of my favorite middle grade series, and it’s just adorable. Grace talks right to the reader, and the text is filled with drawings and notes of hers. In this first book, she shares her love of cats, just as her neighbor’s cat goes missing. She tries to cheer her neighbor up, but things don’t go exactly to plan — and she might get help from the person she least expects.
The Magnificent Makers: How to Test a Friendship by Theanne Griffith and Reggie Brown
In this amply illustrated early chapter book, we’re introduced to Violet and Pablo, best friends who love science. With their new classmate Deepak, they discover a portal that leads them to a magical place called the Maker Maze, a lab full of cool things and adventures. When they meet a wacky scientist who sends them on adventures, they learn all about the science concepts they’re working on in school. It’s like a new Magic School Bus series, but all its own, with quirky friendships, life lessons, and plenty of hijinks.
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham
This book might be more suited for older fans of the Wimpy Kid books, since while there are drawings, there aren’t as many in this series, and it doesn’t have handwritten font. That being said, Alvin is a charming character who you’ll want to spend lots of time with. Alvin is afraid of everything, even school. He’s so afraid that he doesn’t talk in school. At all. Will he be able to deal with his fears, with the help of his friends and family?
Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro and Marion Lindsay
This immersive series is filled with Zoey’s handwritten science journal, lots of illustrations, and plenty of fun. Zoey talks right to the reader, drawing them in, just like Wimpy Kid. When Zoey finds a glowing picture, she discovers that injured magical animals come to her barn for help. She uses science to help them, and the series is full of mystery, the scientific method, and research. It’s a fun, heartwarming series about family, connections, and learning, and Zoey’s voice is one you’ll want to spend lots of time with.
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers Book 1 by Andrea Beaty
Just like Wimpy Kid, these hardcover books have hand-drawn illustrations, handwriting, and text — and plenty of good times and silly moments with friends, while also navigating life. Rosie loves engineering, and her Aunt Rose and her Raucous Riveter friends need help inventing something. But when idea after idea fails, she begins to feel hopeless. Can her friends — the fellow Questioneers Iggy Peck and Ada Twist — help?
Danny’s Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment by David A. Adler
Filled with plenty of illustrations, this entertaining first book in the series is about friends Danny Cohen and Calvin Waffle. They’re different in almost every way, but have paired up for the jelly bean experiment. While overall a fun, light book, the themes of friendship among differences are rendered in a sensitive way, and there are plenty of learning opportunities about the scientific method and history scattered throughout the story. The voice — somewhat irreverent, but funny and still age-appropriate — reminds me of Wimpy Kid, and is a joy to read.
If you or your child love the Wimpy Kid series, there are plenty of great book series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid that are in a similar vein that you can explore — which one will you read first?