Mom’s Cheat Sheet:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid

by Dena McMurdie

Chances are, your child has read Diary of a Wimpy Kid or would like to. As a parent, you want to be up to date on what your kids are reading, even if you don’t have the time to read everything they do. I’ve created this cheat sheet to help you out.

What’s the big deal?
In addition to being wildly funny, Diary of a Wimpy Kid explores themes most kids can relate to: fitting in, popularity, bullying, demands of home and school, loyalty, trust, and friendship.

Who’s (meant to be) reading it?
The intended audience is kids in grades 3-7, or ages 8-12. However, many kids that fall outside that age bracket are reading and talking about this series.

What’s it about?
It’s about Greg, a skinny middle school student near the bottom of the social pecking order and his misadventures at school and at home.

Who’s in it?

  • Greg – the main character and author of the diary (funny, mischievous, trying to be popular)
  • Rowley – Greg’s best friend (only child, immature, gullible)
  • Rodrick – Greg’s older brother (teenager, messy, in a band called Löded Diper)
  • Manny – Greg’s younger brother (spoiled, whiny, always getting Greg in trouble)
  • Greg’s Mom (idealistic, easily deceived, prone to embarrassing her sons)
  • Greg’s Dad (unpredictable, self-conscious, critical)
  • Fregley – the weird kid at school everyone tries to avoid (owner of a “secret freckle”)

What are they doing? *Spoiler Alert*
Over the course of one school year, Greg tries to avoid bullies and his older brother while picking on his best friend, Rowley. He also builds a giant snowman (or tries to), dodges teenage thugs on Halloween, convinces his parents to buy a weight-lifting set for Christmas, avoids the smelly cheese on the playground, writes a comic strip for the school newspaper, and signs up for Safety Patrol. The majority of these events are linked to Greg’s efforts to improve his social standing at school.

What else should parents know?
There is some controversy surrounding this series, especially when it comes to Greg as a role model. He lies, cheats, and treats his best friend like a lab rat. He lets Rowley take the blame for trouble that he (Greg) caused. Greg thinks only of himself and always points the blame at others. However, he is a typical middle school kid trying to take a step up the social ladder. He is funny, easy to relate to, and likeable in spite of his many flaws. He discovers that even if he doesn’t get caught, there are consequences to his actions. He learns about loyalty and stepping up when the situation requires it.

What to ask your kids:

  1. Why do you think Greg sees himself as “wimpy”? Do you think he’s wimpy?
  2. Does Greg do anything brave or risky?
  3. How does Greg treat his best friend? Why do you think he treats Rowley this way?
  4. What could Greg have done differently? Would that have made things better or worse for him?
  5. Does Greg act like kids in real life? In what ways?
  6. Do you think Greg has good self-esteem? Why?
  7. What’s your favorite part of the book? Why do you like that part?
  8. Do the cartoons make the book more fun to read?