Youngsters who adored Jeff Kinney’s clever creations can continue building their love for reading with other books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Since debuting in 2007, these hand-written novels have captured children’s hearts with the realistic stories of Greg Heffley. Readers from roughly third to eighth grade enjoyed following Greg’s daily adventures with best friend Rowley, rude brother Rodrick, and secret crush Holly. Diary of a Wimpy Kid accurately portrayed the challenges kids face to fit in during those awkward middle school years. In addition to spending 114 weeks topping the New York Times Best-Seller list, the relatable series won nine Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards for Favorite Book.
Hilarious pages from Greg’s diary were even adapted onto the big screen with star Zachary Gordon and grossed over $75 million. Even though the series has 10 more books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, fans will eventually run out. While your child awaits Jeff Kinney’s next novel, Double Down, in November 2016, check out what else children’s literature offers. Numerous books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid line library shelves for charming, character-driven stories about growing up. With artful illustrations, they tell light-hearted, yet thought-provoking tales about everyday realities kids cope with.
Here are 50 entertaining books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid that can grasp preteens’ notoriously short attention spans.
#1 – The Brilliant World of Tom Gates
As a Red House Children’s Book Award winner, this comic novel portrays the life of Tom Gates, a fifth-grader prone to hilarious mishaps. He endures failed camping trips, forgotten homework, and grumpy big sisters with his passion for doodling. All Tom really wants is to land tickets to his favorite band, Dude3, and impress the adorable Amy Porter. What could possibly go wrong?
#2 – There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom
Published in 1987, this children’s fiction novel was written by Louis Sachar, famed author of Holes. Here readers meet Bradley Chalkers, the school’s oldest fifth grader. Known for being a liar and bully, Bradley’s used to being hated. Even the new kid, Jeff Fishkin, rescinds his offer of friendship. Only Carla, the school counselor, senses Bradley’s strengths and tries restoring his self-confidence.
#3 – Galactic Hot Dogs: Cosmoe’s Wiener Getaway
Starting the popular Galactic Hot Dogs series, this illustrated book introduces Cosmoe, an Earth-Boy who captains the galaxy’s finest food truck called the Neon Weiner. Along with best friend Big Humphree, Cosmoe cruises the cosmos cooking up Mega-Dogs. Oh, and protects the galaxy from space pirates and mutant worm monsters. Cosmoe’s next foe, the evil Queen Dagger, won’t be easy to defeat.
#4 – Planet Tad
Planet Tad portrays the random daily thoughts of a 12-year-old trying to survive seventh grade. After making his New Year’s resolutions, Tad creates a blog to document his progress. His agenda includes growing a mustache, getting noticed by a girl, and pulling of a kickflip on his skateboard. Fans of books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid will enjoy reading the antics of this young comedian extraordinaire.
#5 – Ungifted
Donovan Curtis is the ultimate middle school prankster. When he strikes the school’s statue of Atlas and sends it speeding into the gymnasium, Donovan’s prepared for punishment. But a major mix-up with the superintendent gets him sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction instead. Although he’s not gifted, Donovan decides ASD is his perfect hideout. With his goofy kindness, Donovan helps teach the smart kids how to be “normal.”
#6 – The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
At McQuarrie Middle School, sixth grader Dwight Tharp is considered the weirdo. One day, he arrives at school wearing an origami finger puppet of Yoda from Star Wars. The other kids think it’s silly until Yoda begins doling out bits of wisdom. The puppet accurately predicts the next pop quiz and who stole the Shakespeare bust. Is Dwight just lucky, or does Yoda have magical powers?
#7 – Schooled
Capricorn “Cap” Anderson, an eccentric 13-year-old, has been home-schooled by his hippie grandmother on a commune called Garland Farms. That’s until Rain falls from a plum tree and becomes hospitalized. A social worker arrives to take Cap to Claverage Middle School. He’s instantly dubbed a loser for his tie-dyed, vegetarian ways. Cap takes over Hugh Winkleman’s previous role as the biggest nerd. Following tradition, he’s now elected eighth grade president.
#8 – Smile
Unlike most books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Smile tells the story of a female protagonist, Raina. The 12-year-old suffers a freak accident after Girl Scouts one night and her two front teeth fall out. What follows is a painful orthodontic experience of implants, braces, and unstylish headgear. Raina endures teasing and frayed friendships while dodging other pubescent curveballs. Watch as she grows into a self-confident teenager who can smile again.
#9 – Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything
Steve Cotler’s debut series of books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid centers on Ronald “Cheesie” Mack, a quirky fifth grader. Cheesie’s meandering middle school shenanigans include rivalry with his older sister June and best friendship with Georgie. His summer vacation takes a drastic turn when Cheesie finds an old coin in Georgie’s basement. The boys endeavor to find if it belongs to the mysterious inhabitants of The Haunted Toad.
#10 – How to Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon is an admired, 12-part series depicting the misadventures of young Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the Viking son of Stoick the Vast. He’s determined to pass the Hairy Hooligans’ important initiation test. On the first mission to fetch dragons, Hiccup returns with a scrawny creature he names Toothless. But Hiccup’s unusual training tactics could help save the clan from looming danger.
#11 – A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
Lemony Snicket’s classic 13-part sequence follows the turbulent young lives of three siblings: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. After their parents’ fiery death, the Baudelaires are sent to live with an evil relative, Count Olaf. He hatches murderous plots to kill the children and steal their inheritance riches. The children continually try fleeing his clutches with new guardians, but Count Olaf continues preying on their fortune.
#12 – Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Literarian Award-winning author James Patterson has penned a series of comedic graphic novels about Rafe Khatchadorian. This awkward sixth grader has a fair share of adolescent problems. His mother works double shifts, his soon-to-be stepfather is verbally abusive, and his little sister Georgia is annoying. With his imaginary friend Leo, Rafe starts Operation R.A.F.E. to break every rule in Hills Village Middle School’s handbook.
#13 – Swim the Fly
For older kids in ninth grade up, Swim the Fly is another hilarious book like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. With his two best friends Coop and Sean, 15-year-old Matt Gratton creates a summertime goal. They’re determined to see a real-life naked girl. Kelly West, the swim team’s star, draws Matt’s attention. Soon he aspires to swim the 100-yard butterfly to impress her. Which goal will he accomplish?
#14 – The Whole World’s Crazy
Nine-year-old Amelia’s spent her entire life in fast-paced Manhattan. After her parents’ divorce, she must readjust to living in a small town with her newly single mom and hip Aunt Tanner. Settling into a new school is the hardest part. Moody, sassy Amelia finds herself making friends with Reggie and Rhonda while taking on bullies and the mysterious Pajamaman. This comics volume begins the Amelia Rules! collection.
#15 – Amelia’s Notebook
With colorful doodles and cartoons, Amelia’s Notebook takes readers into the young mind of feisty nine-year-old Amelia. To cope with moving to a new town, Amelia’s mom gives her a composition book in which to journal. She spills her truest, “top secret” feelings onto the pages. Amelia shows the downs of missing her BFF Nadia and dealing with her pesky older sister Cleo. But optimism shines through as Amelia makes new friends.
#16 – Dragonbreath
Ursula Vernon’s graphic novel portrays a downtrodden young dragon struggling to master the art of breathing fire. Danny Dragonbreath has received a well-deserved F on his science paper. His teacher demands that Danny rewrite it. He recruits his iguana friend, Wendall, and serpent cousin, Edward, to research the Sargasso Sea. But their underwater adventure turns dangerous when a giant squid attacks. Can Danny find his dragonbreath to save them?
#17 – How to Grow Up and Rule the World
Vordak the Incomprehensible presents an irreverent self-help guide for children to unleash their inner evil. From his parents’ basement in New Jersey, Vordak shares illustrated, side-splitting advice for claiming world domination. Middle schoolers will enjoy reading his fictional plots, such as tying victims to conveyor belts and making little brothers look like idiots. All Vordak the Incomprehensible requests is an honored place in your regime.
#18 – I Funny: A Middle School Story
Featuring over 175 black-and-white drawings, this graphic navel depicts Jamie Grimm, a wheelchair-bound teen at Long Beach Middle School. Treated horribly by his new adoptive brother Steve, Jamie survives with humor. He works toward becoming a comedian by trying out jokes on classmates and his uncle’s diner customers. Jamie wants to enter the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic Contest, but his nerves stand in the way.
#19 – Shredderman: Secret Identity
Wendelin Van Draanen
Fifth grader Nolan Byrd, the “Nerd,” is being terrorized by the school’s worst bully, Bubba Bixby. Nolan’s hippy teacher, Mr. Green, assigns a project to design a newspaper page. Tired of being tormented, Nolan decides to avenge himself by reporting on Bubba. He bravely invents a cyber alter ego called Shredderman and starts chronicling Bubba’s transgressions. High-tech plot twists ensue as puny Nolan conquers the goliath bully.
#20 – Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Often compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this chapter book shares the story of Alvin, an Chinese American second grader who fears everything. At home, he’s a loud superhero called Firecracker Man. But Alvin’s so afraid of school that his selective mutism kicks in. Readers experience frightened Alvin’s daily woes with bullies and scary teachers. Eventually Alvin surprises himself by finally speaking to someone unexpected.
#21 – My Life as a Book
Summer vacation’s finally arrived, and 12-year-old Derek is ready for fun. Then, his parents reveal that he’s going to Learning Camp. As a reluctant reader, Derek feels the assignment of reading three books is impossible. So he distracts himself with old newspapers. Derek finds a decade-old article about a girl who drowned in Martha’s Vineyard. He becomes obsessed with learning about his own involvement in her death.
#22 – The Fourth Stall
Chris Rylander’s fast-paced, preteen novel blends Diary of a Wimpy Kid with The Godfather. Sixth grader Mac runs an assistance service for fellow classmates with his business manager, Vince. His office is covertly hidden in the fourth stall of the East Wing’s underused bathroom. Business keeps booming, until the high school’s legendary crime boss, Staples, gets involved. Mac soon realizes that there’s nobody to help solve his own ordeal.
#23 – Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals
Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals is an easy, humorous read that won the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. Third grader Zeke Meeks is upset with the latest playground craze infiltrating his school. Zeke loves playing basketball, but no one wants to play. Instead of enjoying recess, his classmates are sitting and playing with Puppet Pals. Should Zeke join the trend or set his own?
#24 – The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Starting Dav Pilkey’s mega-acclaimed graphic series, this novel introduces Harold and George, two misbehaving, fourth-grade friends. Together they’ve crafted many hilarious schemes like putting bubble bath in the band’s tubas. Next, they’re going to hypnotize their school’s rotund Principal Krupp and transform him into their superhero creation – Captain Underpants. But the prank takes a startling turn as the Captain escapes and starts chasing villains in his underwear.
#25 – The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger
Fifth grader Louie Burger knows that his goofy name destines him for comedy. He wants to become a famous stand-up comedian like Lou Lafferman. There’s just one problem. Severe stage fright means Louie only performs for stuffed animals in his closet. But he’s desperate to win back his best friend Nick. Can he tell jokes at the school’s talent show without barfing?
#26 – Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Sideways Stories from Wayside School tells of strange events happening at a middle school that was erroneously constructed 30 stories tall. The story begins in Mrs. Gorf’s class on the 30th floor. This stubbornly cruel teacher turns disruptive students into apples. Led by Todd, the children force her to become an apple. After Mrs. Gorf gets eaten herself, Mrs. Jewls is hired and the bizarreness continues.
#27 – Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga
Jake Schwartz isn’t looking forward to junior high drama or his upcoming bar mitzvah. The only upside is that his best friend, Danny Uribe, will be along for the ride. Or will he? Danny’s growth spurt has left him more interested in girls, especially Jake’s older sister Hannah. Danny distances himself from Jake and joins a gang, but eventually finds himself in too deep.
#28 – Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf
Detail-oriented Ginny Davis begins seventh grade with a to-do list. She outlines everything she wants to accomplish before June. Her list doesn’t include accidentally turning her hair pink before picture day. And it certainly doesn’t include getting detention for throwing frogs across the classroom. Ginny’s plans take surprising turns as she struggles with report cards, hall passes, peer pressure, and confusing boys. Middle school is worse than expected.
#29 – The Popularity Papers
Before graduating from elementary school, tween best friends Lydia and Julie are determined to crack the code of popularity. Shy, observant Julie plans social experiments for bold, outgoing Lydia to try imitating popular girls. They create a notebook filled with their observations. Gaining popularity helps the two fifth graders discover new hobbies and friends. But the shift in social hierarchy also threatens their relationship.
#30 – Stick Dog
Stick Dog is a curious stray dwelling in a suburban park with his poochy friends Karen, Mutt, Stripes, and Poo Poo. One day, the motley crew sniffs the mouth-watering aroma of grilling meat. Thus begins their epic hunt for the tastiest burger. Stick Dog’s search features many humorous distractions, including squirrels and fire hydrants. Young pet lovers will devour this canine-centric book until the tasty conclusion.
#31 – Blubber
Published in 1974, Judy Blume’s classic novel centers on Jill Brenner, an average fifth grader at Hillside School. After an overweight classmate named Linda does a report on whales, Jill joins in the bullying of “Blubber.” She doesn’t mind being cruel when she’s finally popular with Wendy and Caroline. But then Jill’s escapades go awry and she becomes tormented as “Baby Brenner.” How will she feel when the tables are turned?
#32 – Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life
Rachel Renee Russell
Beginning the Dork Diaries, this best-selling novel portrays the life of eighth grader Nikki Maxwell. She confesses everything to her diary, including antics with her little sister Brianna, best friendship with Zoey, and puppy love with Brandon. Nikki finds refuge in doodling on the pages, so she enters the school’s art competition. Thus sparks a sudden, heated rivalry with queen bee Mackenzie.
#33 – How to Eat Fried Worms
10-year-old Billy doesn’t back down challenges. When his best friend Alan bets that he can’t eat 15 worms in 15 days, he can’t refuse. Plus Billy needs the $50 to purchase his dream bike. With plenty of ketchup and mustard, Billy’s able to swallow his yucky dare. As days pass, he actually begins enjoying the juicy worms. But Alan is secretly cooking up schemes for Billy to fail.
#34 – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Another of Judy Blume’s YA books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid introduces 11-year-old Margaret Simon. Her family has just moved from New York City to Jersey’s suburbs. Anxious to make friends, Margaret joins a secret society with Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. They openly discuss private, pubescent topics like bras, periods, and crushes. Then Margaret reveals her quest for choosing a religion between her Christian mother and Jewish father.
#35 – Harriet the Spy
Harriet M. Welsch is a smart, intensely curious tween who dreams of becoming an author. In the meantime, she follows a spy route and records her observations about people in her secret notebook. A notebook that Harriet accidentally misplaces. Her life flips upside down when classmates start reading the truthful, yet sometimes terrible things she’s written. How can Harriet ever repair her friendships?
#36 – Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
Timmy Failure, a boastful 11-year-old, asserts that he’s the town’s best detective. He’s the CEO of “Total Failure,” an agency he believes will make millions. Timmy’s assisted by a sheepish sidekick, Rollo, and a 1,200-pound polar bear named Total. Young readers will adore following their silly sleuthing and epic clue misses. Kids can even send drawings to Stephan Pastis’ website for the Timmy Failure Gallery of Greatness.
#37 – Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles Into Comics
Once upon a time, a young princess tried to draw a comic. After throwing down her pencil in frustration, the Magic Cartooning Elf suddenly appears for a whimsical how-to lesson. Empowered, she begins drawing a story about a brave knight who rescues a beautiful princess from a flying, gum-chewing dragon. Like the princess, readers will discover they have the artistic skills to create comics.
#38 – The Stonekeeper
The Amulet series offers suspenseful books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid that hook readers aged 8-12. After their father’s death, Emily and Navin move into their great-grandpa’s house. Soon, the house’s sinister creatures lure their mother underground. The siblings must venture into the dark, robotic world for her rescue. Along the way, they recruit a mechanical rabbit named Miskit to help save the person they love most.
#39 – Swindle
Sixth grader Griffin Bing has found the solution to his parents’ money problems – an extremely rare Babe Ruth card. He takes the baseball card to Wendell Palomino. Nicknamed Swindle, the dealer tricks Griffin into thinking it’s fake. Finding out otherwise, he assembles a team of seven skilled teens to break into Swindle’s house for the card. Can the team finish their mission before the card is sold at auction?
#40 -Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel
Ruth McNally Barshaw
Eleanor McDougal, an 11-year-old budding artist and naturalist, is taking a camping trip. Her unlikely traveling partners to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are her Aunt Ug, Uncle Ewing, and three cousins. Initially, she protests by berating her cousins, but eventually Ellie forges friendships with them. Her illustrated journals are filled with valuable preteen lessons about getting along with others. Youngsters can even play along with games like “Sardines.”
#41 – Lunch Walks Among Us
Franny K. Stein is a dedicated mad scientist who prefers tarantulas and poison ivy to ponies and daisies. Her classmates think she’s weird with a capital W. Tired of being ostracized, Franny embarks on her strangest experiment yet – fitting in. She transforms herself into a girlie girl for popularity. But then the Monstrous Fiend suddenly attacks her class. Now everyone’s depending on a mad scientist to protect them.
#42 – The Homework Machine
Brenton, a nerdy fifth grader at Grand Canyon School, has a revolutionary idea. He’s coding his computer to do his homework. Classmates Kelsey, Judy, and Sam convince Brenton to let them use it. Their delight quickly turns sour though. Teachers grow suspicious about their error-free assignments. And the computer, nicknamed Belch, grows more powerful than planned. Now the D Squad must race against their own invention.
#43 – Wonkenstein
12-year-old Robert Burnside absolutely loathes reading. Every book his parents buy ends up piled within his packed closet. One day, Rob’s closet begins making bizarre noises. Out pops a creature looking half Willy Wonka and half Frankenstein. Rob decides to keep Wonkenstein a secret, so he gets blamed for its many mishaps. Yet the unlikely duo’s adventures sent the stage for roaring laughs and even some reading.
#44 – Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur
Luke Sharpe’s 2015 novel introduces Billy Sure, a successful 12-year-old CEO. He’s invented the All Ball, a ball that turns into any sports ball by pushing a button. Billy now wants to plan an online competition to encourage other kid entrepreneurs. His company receives thousands of entries, like the Sibling Silencer. Billy’s left struggling to reach a verdict on the contest’s winner. He’s also grappling with a secret that could doom his career.
#45 – Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Looking for more books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid from Judy Blume? Here’s another great page-turner about nine-year-old Peter Warren Hatcher. He’s completely infuriated with his two-year-old brother nicknamed Fudge. He throws tantrums, destroys Peter’s posters, jumps from rocks etc. To Peter’s dismay, his parents dote on the little terror. Only his turtle, Dribble, seems to care about Peter. That’s until Fudge even messes with his pet!
#46 – Big Nate: In a Class by Himself
Following the Wimpy Kid wave, Lincoln Pierce’s book portrays Nate Wright, a sarcastic trouble-prone sixth grader. He’s always in hot water between body slamming the principal and accidentally insulting Godzilla-like teachers. Nate finally believes things are improving when his fortune cookie foretells he’ll “surpass all others.” Turns out his entertaining, eye-popping antics lead to the school’s record for most detention slips ever.
#47 – Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading
The raucous debut to the Charlie Joe Jackson series introduces the tween reluctant reader. Charlie has proudly never read a whole book cover to cover. But now he’s entering middle school and the stakes are upped. His best friend Timmy McGibney refuses to cover for him anymore. Charlie finds himself stranded with a huge school project and tons of required reading. Watch the desperate measures he’ll take to avoid flipping pages.
#48 – Groosham Grange
After he’s expelled again, David Eliot’s abusive parents have had enough. They’re sending him to Groosham Grange, a boarding school on an island off Norwalk, England. Upon arrival, David discovers bizarre, otherworldly teachers and students who mysteriously vanish. Along with his new friends, David must uncover the secret of Groosham Grange before their 13th birthdays, or their lives will change forever. Fans of books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter will enjoy.
#49 – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a diary-style children’s book about Jamie Kelly, a medium-popular student at Mackerel Middle School. She wants to be more popular like the perfect, blonde-haired Angeline. But one day, Angeline gets her hair caught in her backpack. After the school nurse clips off her silky hair, Angeline’s no longer the “Prettiest Girl.” Jamie painstakingly devises a plot to steal her popularity status.
#50 – Danny the Champion of the World
Written in 1975, Roald Dahl’s book portrays Danny, a young English boy living in a Gypsy caravan with his father William. At nine, Danny learns that William habitually participates in a pheasant poaching contest at evil Victor Hazell’s estate. But after his father’s injury, he decides to humiliate his would-be competitors. Danny puts sleeping pills inside the raisins the pheasants eat. If he can pull off, Danny will be champion of the world.
Find these top 50 books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for more illustrated stories about lovable teenage underdogs like Greg Heffley that your young bookworm will gobble up.
Want more suggestions for young adult books? Click here.