Diary of a Wimpy Kid Author Discusses Future Books, Fame, and Getting Kids Away From Screens

By November 19, 2018 Authors, Children's Literature

Jeff Kinney is one of the world’s most successful children’s authors of all time and his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books have sold over 200 million copies. The author has met three presidents and has even attracted the attention of the Pope after his books were translated into Latin. In an interview with the BBC, Kinney discusses the popularity of his books, and his efforts to get kids away from screens.

The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book made its debut in 2004 and has since evolved into a series that now spans 13 books which are available across 140 countries. The cartoon artwork and handwritten font follows a middle-scholar named Greg and his best friend Rowley. The books follow their adventures whilst also aiming to encourage young children, particularly boys, to read.




“I feel a huge responsibility to encourage literacy,” said Kinney. “I see that the more people read, the higher their quality of life is and it turns them into lifelong readers.”

Kinney went on to say that he’s been shocked to find many children in the US “don’t have a single book in their home”.

“People underestimate how valuable a kid finds a book,” he said, explaining he has organised book fairs where children can take home three books each. “The kids are so surprised when they realise they can keep them. Books are seen very much as a treasured object.”

Though Kinney is a vocal advocate for encouraging children to read, he admits it’s still a challenge to get his own children away from TV and mobile screens. “They are like most kids,” he told the BBC, “you have to prod them to read”.

“We are victorious if they spend less than five hours a day on screens at the weekend,” he joked.

Kinney first conceived the idea for his books in 1998, but it would be another eight years before he presented it to a publisher. Twenty years later and Kinney has no intentions of slowing down. He believes he has at least seven more books in him as he would like to round the series off at 20. “I am aiming to write 20 – that’s my hope,” he said. He went on to note that having cartoon characters frozen in time makes writing them much easier. “I realised around book five that these are cartoon characters, so they don’t have to age. People don’t want cartoon characters to change. Bart Simpson has been around for 25 years – and still going strong.”

When he’s not working on his hugely popular series, Kinney runs his a book shop in Plainville, Massachusetts, where he resides. He originally opened the store as he felt the town “needed a facelift”, and it has since been visited by other notable authors, including children’s author David Walliams.

The Wimpy Kid series is also being adapted into an animated series. “I have written two episodes so far,” said Kinney. “I am trying to get at the truth of childhood and to make it as deep as it can be considering it’s a cartoon TV show.”

It seems that truthfulness regarding childhood is what makes Kinney’s books strike such a chord among readers. “The root of it all is childhood experiences,” he said. Regarding the books popularity overseas, Kinney noted; “We have a lot more in common country to country than we might think. We share the same childhood in many ways all over the world. It’s really excited me over the past few years, that kids in Turkey, China and New Zealand all see something in my books.”

Kinney went on to discuss how being aware of his worldwide audience has influenced his writing. “In the past, when I first started writing the series, I would have told a Thanksgiving story or a Christmas story,” he explained “but they aren’t inclusive so I try to avoid that now – perhaps make it a birthday one instead.”

As a Catholic, Kinney said he was “stunned” when he was shown a picture of the Pope examining one of his books following its translation into Latin. “I love that photo,” he said, going on to point out how moments like that, including the time he met Barack Obama, as being “weirdly out of joint” with his family life in small-town America.

Little Miss Inventor Joins the Mr Men/Little Miss Collection

By | Children's Literature, New Releases | No Comments
The Mr. Men books, illustrated and written by Roger Hargreaves have been a hit with children since 1971 when they were first published and the collection was later increased to include female characters in 1981 with an accompanying series, Little Miss. Now, the Little Miss collection is about to be joined by a new character, Little Miss Inventor.
Read More

Paddington TV Series in Production

By | Adaptations, Children's Literature, News | One Comment
Paddington is one of those bears who has stood the test of time, and has even outlived his creator Michael Bond who sadly passed away in 2019. Today we hear the news that StudioCanal will be working with Nickelodeon and award winning producer David Heyman in a global deal for a brand new Paddington Bear inspired television series for pre-schoolers.

Actor Ben Whishaw who voiced the bear in Paddington the Movie and its sequel will reprise his role for the new CGI-animated series. The series will follow the adventures of a young Paddington Bear and will air worldwide on Nickelodeon in 2020.

Read More

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is coming to Ireland!

By | Children's Literature, News | No Comments
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been a successful venture since it started in 1995, and recently hit its 100 millionth donation! Thanks to people joining in and supporting the charity, Dolly’s team have been able to reach further afield- starting with Ireland.

The programme aims to give as many children as possible a free book and help start them on their literary journey, or encourage one already flourishing. It was launched in Ireland at the South Dublin County Council Library in Tallaght on Thursday. New books will now be available for all children aged up to five living in Dublin 24, for free!

Read More

UK Pop Star Reads LGBT Book for CBeebies Bedtime Stories

By | Children's Literature, News | No Comments
UK pop star, Will Young, will kick off LGBT Month with a story about a child raised by two fathers.

The story is named ‘Two Dads’ and was written by Carolyn Robertson and illustrated by Sophie Humphreys. It offers a sweet and affirming tale of a family of two dads and their adopted child, written from the perspective of the happy and well-loved child.

Young, a vocal supporter of LGBT inclusiveness, told reporters:

“Children’s books are one of the first ways we learn about the world around us so I’m overjoyed to be reading a story to mark LGBT History Month. More so than ever, families in all forms should be recognised and celebrated – whether that’s two dads, two mums, families with a mum and a dad, those with a single parent, adoptive families and so on. I’ve never been more sure that inclusivity starts from the youngest possible age. I hope these stories will be used for years to come.”

Read More

Gringotts Wizarding Bank Coming to Harry Potter Studios

By | Children's Literature, Literary Places, News | No Comments
If you haven’t visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour, London then it’s well worth a visit and it’s about to become even more appealing with the addition of Gringotts Wizarding Bank at the studios.

Previous visitors to the Studios will know that the frontage to the bank has always been on the studios version of Diagon Alley but now for the first time ever, visitors will be able to enter the set of Gringotts Wizarding Bank as the studio reveals its biggest expansion to date.

Read More

Kansas Library Receives Request from Parent to Move Transgender Children’s Books

By | Children's Literature, Libraries, News | No Comments
The board of a Kansas public library is being forced to consider a request that books featuring transgender characters be moved out of the children’s section of the library.

Local resident Marci Laffen made the written request to the library asking that the books George, Lily and Dunkin and I am Jazz be moved to either the adult of young adult section of the library citing “sexual content” in her request. In addition, Laffen suggested books with themes of bullying, rebelling against police and refusing to take medications are the reasons the books do not have a place in the child’s section of the Andover Public Library in Kansas.

Read More



Leave a Reply