Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Why Stories Are 'Essential' for Children

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Why Stories Are 'Essential' for Children

Article excerpt

The author of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series says he's very happy to learn that time and time again, children have named one of his books as their favorite in interviews during The Big Book Drive.

"I certainly don't take for granted that kids like my books," said Jeff Kinney. "It's great to hear."

Kinney told The Record last week that he was lucky growing up to live in a house "filled with books."

"I always sort of took for granted that everyone's lives were like that," said Kinney, a Maryland native whose mother was an educator. "I've been surprised to hear recently that there are many kids without a single book in their house."

The Big Book Drive is an effort by the Paterson Free Public Library and The Record and the Herald News to gather new and gently used books to give to Paterson children to take home. The books, which have been collected at Allendale, Maywood and Ridgewood libraries, are to be distributed in April to children in Paterson's Northside neighborhood at the opening of a new branch library, and at other reading events during the year.

"It's so important to get books into the hands of kids because it opens them up to new worlds, new points of view," Kinney said. "You're going to find lessons or characters that really speak to you. I think it's absolutely essential for a kid to have a book."

Kinney's first book in the "Wimpy Kid" series came out in 2007 and moved quickly to the bestseller list. Since then, he has written six more. There are more than 75 million copies in print in 41 languages and there have been three "Wimpy Kid" movies.

The "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books chronicle the life of fictional middle schooler Greg Heffley through the drawings and entries in his diary. The series finds humor in every situation and many readers can relate to Greg's difficulties fitting in, handling social pressures and having anything go the way he planned.

Kinney believes his books are popular because he includes cartoon drawings and because he doesn't write down to kids or try to impart lessons. Kinney says he tries to write stories that will stand the test of time, avoiding references to technology and pop culture and instead finding humor in the timeless social and school experiences. …

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