I've heard some people grumble about Diary of a Wimpy Kid because they think it teaches children to have poor attitudes. My experience with this series has been entirely different. My children are learning new vocabulary words and acquiring a few life skills from the series.
We took the kids to Taos, NM, over the Thanksgiving break. It was their first time seeing "real" snow -- not the Texas snow they're used to. This snow was thick, and it was there for the entire visit. Whereas Texas snow barely covers the grass and lasts less than a day most of the time.
Friday morning my son woke up, excited that he was about to go "trudging" through the snow. Trudging. That's not a word we really use in our house, probably because we don't have an occasion to use it that often. My husband and I asked where he had learned that word. You can probably guess his answer - Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Apparently, in one of the books, Greg Heffley had to brave the snow piles in order to get somewhere and the word "trudge" was used to describe the situation.
Later in the day, both kids were pushing enormous balls of snow around in an attempt to build a snowman. My daughter's method for making the snowman's body was, in my opinion, impressive - I had never seen anyone push around snow in the way both kids were. I asked her where she learned about pushing around the snow into a ball. She gave me the following answer:
Some people might not consider this a life skill. I certainly didn't think it was before the trip, but, after seeing how much time my kids spent playing together peacefully, I do think it is a life skill now. During their quest to build a snowman, my kids created a plan together, worked together, and supported one another in the process. Those are skills they will need through life. Plus, knowing how to make a real snowman will definitely impress friends and neighbors, if we ever get snow here again.
There are a few other words and phrases my son learned from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (My personal favorite is "ploopy," which we use a lot when one of the kids is a bit grumpy.) I'm glad he's learning things from reading - isn't that what reading is all about? Greg Heffley might not have the best attitude about school, parents, and a host of other things, but I've learned that children of all backgrounds can relate to him in one way or another.
In conclusion, I'd like to remind everyone out there that all books have merit and to keep an open mind about what our children and/or students are reading. Listen to their words and observe their movements, especially when they are creating something. Ask them where they learned how to do it. You might be surprised by their answers, like I was.