Large-scale popularity in a genre doesn’t necessarily translate to imparting the life skills it depicts to its readers. The widespread enjoyment of post-apocalyptic novels doesn’t mean that its readers are any better prepared to experience an apocalyptic event than people who read mysteries, for example. The enormous popularity of middle grade illustrated diary series, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Dork Diaries, is different in this regard.
We ran a diary writing contest which has just concluded. With a sample size of over 100 entries to consider, one thing was clear from the results. Kids have not only been consuming popular illustrated diaries, they have been learning how to express themselves in that genre as well. See for yourself!
First of all here is one of our three Grand Prize Winners, Amelia, with her winning entry and her prize, a signed copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid!
Here is Amelia’s terrific entry. Her delighted parents confirmed that 14 out of 16 Thanksgiving dinner attendees had gotten sick from the meal!
Our second Grand Prize entry has it all!
Our third Grand Prize Winner, Ben, is much younger than the other two winners. We were as impressed as we were charmed by the effectiveness with which he integrated the illustration and the text to paint a vivid scene.
This runner-up entry helps clarify how kids feel about the Dork Diaries books.
Many parents, educators, and booksellers wonder how much illustrated diaries are developing kids as readers in general. We may not have answered that question but I think it is obvious that illustrated diaries are teaching kids to translate what they are reading into a dynamic form of self-expression. Many thanks to our sponsors at Simon and Schuster, the teachers who worked with us to engage kids in the contest, and of course all the kids who participated!