Reading just for the fun of it

Since the previews first aired in February, my son along with every other third grader I know has been anxiously awaiting the movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”  He’s been devouring the book series.  While in Costco, I quipped that if I made a few more broadies around the store, he’d finish “Dog Days” and I wouldn’t even have to pay for it!

With only a day or two left on the big screen, we headed for the show last weekend.  Thankfully, my motherly instinct kicked in and I left my 5-year old at home with Daddy.  If only we had all stayed at home.  I found the movie to be downright uninspiring and inappropriate.  What did my son think?  He liked it (of course).

Then, I panicked.  What in the world has he been reading the last few weeks?  Were the books like the movie?  He’d gone through the books so quickly that I only sat with him a couple times to read out loud.  No red flags had gone off then.  That very night, I grabbed the latest paperback in the series from his shelf and read “The Last Straw” from cover to cover. 

Did I get it?  Did I find it enjoyable?  Not really. There were a couple spots where, I admit, that I did chuckle out loud.  Mostly, I found it kind of lame, which translates into side-splitting HILARIOUS in an 8-year old’s world.  The book, by nature, offered a softer Greg Heffley, plus super clever illustrations to deliver a relatable story of middle school triumphs and follies.  On the other hand, the movie offered too many anxious mom moments, where I held my breath and hoped that my son didn’t clue into the “girlie magazine.”  Plus, the movie depicted the older brother as torturous, teachers as nit-wits and school populace as sheep.   

Over the course of the next 24 hours, I spent way too much time analyzing the movie plot and leveraging key scenes as “teaching moments.”  At one point, my son said, “Mommy, it’s just a movie.  I know it’s pretend.” What a relief.  The movie hadn’t scarred him for life, or for that matter, entry into middle school.

As I was exhaling, I caught a glimpse of one of my favorite book series sitting quietly on the shelf (mocking me!).  It was” Twilight.”   I had no sooner finished “Twilight” and was off to Barnes & Noble the very next morning to purchase “New Moon” and so on.  The “Twilight” series was thoroughly enjoyable and I certainly didn’t learn anything.  It didn’t make me a smarter person or a better mother/ wife.  It was just a fun diversion from the everyday.  Just like adults, kids need diversions too.  And, I’d rather him glued to a fun, engaging book then to the tube — watching Sponge Bob or iCarly.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” will likely become a pop-cult classic. Why? I don’t know. I suppose it’s akin to my favorite book from when I was a fifth grader – “Are you there God, it’s me Margret?” by Judy Blume.  It was the first time I could get inside another kid’s head and hear what she was thinking.  It made me feel normal. Then, I kind of got it. I got the appeal of Greg Heffley and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” to my son.

I imagine there will be many other books that I don’t fully “get.”  But, really … get it or not, who doesn’t enjoy reading just for the fun of it? 

While Michele poo-pooed the movie, she gives the book series, “Diary of Wimpy Kid,” two thumbs up in the “reading just for fun” category.  

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