If you're the parent of a child in the seven- to ten-year-old range, you're probably familiar with the recent rise in popularity of children’s chapter books written in diary or journal style. Series such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries introduce funny, flawed characters in often calamitous situations that kids relate to and admire. Featuring simple, conversational text combined with fun, graphic elements like doodles and cartoons, these book series are popular with both confident and reluctant readers alike — with the graphic style offering particularly valuable contextual support for struggling readers.
Here are nine great journal-style series books to get your child started.
1. Diary of a Worm is the first of three books in this series by Doreen Cronin (Diary of a Fly and Diary of a Spider follow). It’s a funny look at the everyday life of a worm, shared in a graphic diary form, and is a great introduction to this genre.
2. The Owl Diaries series by Rebecca Elliott introduces an enthusiastic young owl named Eva, along with Baxter, Eva’s pet bat, and a fun collection of family and friends. The story begins with Eva’s Treetop Festival, in which Eva learns a valuable lesson about the importance of teamwork.
3. Diary of a Minecraft Zombie by Zach Zombie is a fun series for fans of the game Minecraft. It kicks off with A Scare of a Dare, where we meet Zach Zombie and learn that his life isn’t that different from that of a human boy — he gets into trouble at school, experiences a series of unfortunate events, and has after-school adventures with his unusual collection of friends.
4. The Ella Diaries series by Meredith Costain share the secret diaries of Ella, a down to earth fifth grader who writes about her trials and tribulations, jealousies and misunderstandings, and the important life lessons she learns along the way. Start with book one, Double Dare You.
5. Star Wars: Jedi Academy is the first in the Jedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown. It shares the story of middle school-aged Roan as he struggles to adapt to life at Jedi School — after all, Padawans are usually recruited as toddlers and he has a lot of catching up to do!
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (book one in the series of the same name) chronicles the often unfortunate and always hilarious misadventures of Greg Heffley as he transitions to life as a middle school student.
7. The first book in the Amelia’s Notebook series by Marissa Moss, Amelia’s Notebook, begins with Amelia sharing her feelings about her family’s move to a new state, home, and elementary school in the journal her mom gave her for her ninth birthday.
8. The Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell introduces eight grader Nikki Maxwell as she struggles with her new school’s resident mean girl, making new friends, her embarrassing parents, and her bratty little sister. Introduce your child to Nikki with book one, Tales From a Not So Fabulous Life.
9. Dear Dumb Diary by Jim Benton is a very funny, sometimes not-so-nice, totally true (at least as true as it needs to be) diary series featuring middle schooler Jamie Kelly. In her diary, Jamie vents about school, her family, her dog, boys, and her arch nemesis, the perfect Angeline. The laughs start in book one of the series, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.
Once your child is hooked on reading diaries or journals, encourage her to keep her own! Find valuable information about the benefits of journal writing and great tips for getting started.