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Wimpy Kid Changes My World

By Brian Smith on November 18, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Recently, Scholastic released 12 new posters as part of their Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life. campaign. I couldn't wait to see the new posters — David Shannon's poster from a few years ago is a part of my classroom landscape. I was thrilled to see in this latest release a Henry Cole poster (he is a phenomenal speaker and person), but the one that struck a personal cord with me was the Jeff Kinney poster. Jeff writes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and the latest one, Hard Luck, was just released. Since I teach kindergarten, I don't use his books in my classroom, but he is a huge favorite at my house. Scholastic does offer a Grades K-2 Discussion Guide and a Grades 3-5 Discussion Guide for this poster and all the other posters as well.

This week, I have written a letter to Jeff Kinney, in which I share some of the ways that we have used his books in our house. As you read the letter, you will see how much of a difference one author can make in the life of a child. When that child is yours, you become eternally grateful.

 

Dear Jeff Kinney,

I want to start by saying thank you! Thank you for sharing your talents with my family. You have made a difference in our lives.

We love the new poster that you created for the Scholastic Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life. campaign. It’s a great addition to the series and one of my family’s favorites. When the new posters were released, I couldn't wait to share your poster with my daughter.

In her words, “This poster is funny because the swimming pool is full of books and it has Greg in it. It’s the best poster.” Your version of the Scholastic slogan really gets to the heart that reading is fun.

Our family, like many others, owes our daughter’s love of reading to you. Ella, who is a nine-year-old third grader, has always loved books, but the actual concept of reading was intimidating for her. We started sending Ella to a reading tutor near the end of her first grade year. Her tutor, Mrs. Alice Rullman, was an answer to her mom’s and my prayers. Ella immediately started getting so much better with decoding once she got that explicit instruction but she still didn’t love to read. Her mom and I read to her all the time (the whole Junie B. series, Judy Moody books, and her favorite picture books like the Pinkalicous series), but no books caught her attention enough for her to make the commitment to those characters and all those chapters.

Wimpy Kid SeriesThis past April, she bought a Wimpy Kid book at a Goodwill. She spent her own money to buy it and immediately fell in love. She made a goal that she wanted to read all of the Wimpy Kid books over the summer. That is a lot of reading but she was determined. Her mom bought the rest of the books online and hid them. When Ella finished one book, the next book would magically appear somewhere in the house within the next hour. Ella met her goal and read all seven books this summer, bringing her hours of enjoyment. For my wife and I, you gave us one of the best sounds we've ever heard . . . Ella sitting on the couch reading your book silently and laughing out loud. It was a moment that we will never forget and you are part of that memory for us.

Wimpy Kid Book ClubShe even started a Wimpy Kid Book Club with one of her best friends, Andrew. When Andrew finishes a book, they meet at a local bookstore and discuss the book. Right now, they are loving life because they are both reading your new book, Hard Luck. We all had a countdown leading to the release date of Hard Luck and luckily Andrew's school was hosting the Scholastic Book Fair at their school the week it was released so there was no waiting. It was instant gratification in the best way.

Keith Stanovich coined the term The Matthew Effect, which is where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In reading, this means that the students who read become better readers and the students who don’t read become poorer readers. Because you created Greg Heffley, Ella is now a child who is literature rich.

With much appreciation,

Brian Smith

Comments (4)

Really enjoyed this blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.
citations

As a mom and teacher I feel so inspired by your effort to create this love for reading. I teach pre-k and the students can't wait to hear a great book. I want to get a hold of that poster for my classroom as well as my home. It is an awesome poster!

Thanks for reading! It is amazing how much these books change Ella!

As a teacher, we are always looking for that one book or one author who tips the scale from non- or tepid reader to avid reader. I've seen this happen, but great to hear from a teacher who experienced this thrill within his own family!

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