When Harry Potter first arrived around 1998, I remember scrounging diligently to come up with a list of just ten fantasy titles to recommend to kids who loved J. K. Rowling's novel. Seriously. Less than twenty years ago there were only a handful of quality fantasy works for that age group. But once Harry, Hermione, and Ron took the publishing word by storm, marketers quickly realized there's money to be had in kids and teen books. Lots of it.
Kids books are an industry unlike anything they were in the past. Fast forward about 15 years from the first appearance of the Harry Potter series, and well, I don't have to tell you ... you've seen what happened with Twilight and The Hunger Games. The good news is that the unprecedented buying power of the youngest millenials means that once a genre of book takes off, there is quickly similar stuff to choose from.
Jeff Kinney's made millions on The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and just like Rowling, deservedly so. His combination of super cool line drawings, hilarious dialogue, empathy for the underdog, and understanding of the awkwardness of middle-school life have earned him incredible popularity amongst kids ages eight to twelve. One really nice thing about Kinney's books is that they bridge the gap between comic books/graphic novels and more traditional chapter books, so they're awesome for reluctant readers. (This also makes them great summer reads if you're trying to get your kids away from the iPad and into reading when school is out, and they're less than obliging.)
The only problem is that Kinney's books are quick reads (unlike the weighty Potter tomes) and only come out annually in November. In other words, they don't last long, although my nine year old has worked around that by reading the entire series three times. So what's a kid who loves Wimpy Kid, but needs to branch out while waiting for the next installment, to do? Fear not; once a series like Wimpy Kid generates bazillions of dollars (and a bunch of movies), you're guaranteed the entire publishing industry will jump on the bandwagon and seek out more of the same kinds of books. That means there's lots more where Greg and Rodrick came from. So Wimpy Kid fans (and their parents), consider these titles or check out the list on Pinterest below. Many of these books are series so these could potentially keep your junior busy for a long while!
The Notebook of Doom series by Troy Cummings
Middle School series by James Patterson and collaborators
The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley
My Life as A Book series by Janet Tashjian
Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell
Sisters, Smile, and Drama by Raina Telgemeier
The Loser List series by H. N. Kowitt
Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce
Diary of a Sixth Grade Ninja series by Marcus Emerson
Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis
Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
Stick Dog series by Tom Watson
Star Wars Jedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown
Ellie McDoodle Diaries series by Ruth McNally Barshaw
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series by Mo O'Hara
Odd Squad series by Michael Fry
Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg
Charlie Joe Jackson series by Tommy Greenwald
Justin Case series by Rachel Vail
Amelia's Notebook series by Marissa Moss
Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka
Kate the Great, Except When She's Not by Suzy Becker
This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy Cavanaugh
N.E.R.D.S. series by Michael Buckley
El Deafo by Cece Bell
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