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Wimpy Kid Heads Back to School

Jeff Kinney reflects on ‘How i was that wimpy kid!’

Greg Heffley is the “antihero” of the popular series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, created by cartoonist Jeff Kinney. If you haven’t read the series and haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, Greg is described as “trollish, lazy, arrogant, greedy, impudent, egotistical, mischievous, and sometimes even cruel and dishonest.” In other words, a typical middle school student trying to figure it all out. As we head back to school, NEA Today caught up with Kinney to ask him about Greg, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and new-school-year jitters.

How much of you is reflected in Greg?

Greg is meant to be an exaggerated form of myself as a middle school kid. Generally speaking,

I wasn’t as flawed as Greg, but sometimes I was probably worse.

What do kids like most about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series?

Kids like the humor. They read the books to laugh, not necessarily for a good story. I prioritize humor above narrative in my books.

Have you heard about creative ways educators use your books in their classrooms?

Yes, using my books as a tool to encourage journal keeping is a great way to get kids writing.

What impact do you hope the series will have on readers?

I hope my books will turn kids into lifelong readers. I don’t expect kids to stay with my books past the age of 13 or so. After that, hopefully, the seed has been planted.

What universal experiences or struggles did you have in school that kids still have today?

I think childhood is a universal condition, and most things I experienced as a kid are being experienced by mine today. Friendships, bullying, crazy family, love interests…it’s all part of being a young human being.

How would Greg advise students who are starting the school year in a new school or new class?

Greg might say the best plan is to find a friend who can share in all your ups and downs.

As an advocate for fellow students, what would he say to teachers starting the new year?

Greg might say, “Go easy on us.” I’d say, you’re entrusted with these kids’ education for a year…it’s a privilege, so make an impact if you can!

Can you give us any hints on what we can expect with your new book coming out in November?

I’m still writing it now, but I know a musical instrument will be involved!

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