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31 Days of Teens’ Top Ten: After Wimpy Kid

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Each day during the month of May, The Hub will feature a post about Teens’ Top Ten. Be sure to check in daily as we visit past winners and current nominees!

It may feel like forever since 2007, the year that first introduced readers to Greg Heffley, Rowley, and the Cheese Touch. The very next year, Jeff Kinney’s now-famous Diary of a Wimpy Kid made the Teens’ Top Ten list, and the subsequent books and movies have made “do you have anything else like this??” a chorus at libraries across the country.

The obvious readalike is Lincoln Peirce’s eerily similar Big Nate series, whose self-centered humor, middle-school antics, and cartoon inserts ensure that Nate and Greg would be BFFs, if only they could meet. But is this “novel in cartoons” style best suited to guy protagonists only? Not at all! The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow, the Amelia books by Marissa Moss, Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles, and the Ellie McDoodle series all feature girl main characters, confessorial notebooks, and penned-by-the-narrator illustrations. A visual reader might also enjoy Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff (by Jennifer L. Holm of Babymouse fame), Julian Rodriguez by Alexander Stadler, or (you knew it was coming) the Captain Underpants series.

And are there less-illustrated books that still have the guy appeal, snarky tone, and school-based hilarity that Greg Heffley would adore? Zoo-Wee Mama, yes! Look no further than the books of Dan Gutman (try The Homework Machine), Andrew Clements (try Frindle), or Louis Sachar (try Sideways Stories from Wayside School). Other dare-you-not-to-LOL titles include Gary Paulsen’s Lawn Boy and Harris and Me, Barbara Park’s Skinnybones, and Sue Stauffacher’s Donuthead. The array of options is anything but wimpy — feel free to add more in the comments!

–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork

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Rebecca O'Neil

Rebecca (Becky) is a Collection Development Librarian at the Westerville Public Library in Ohio. Her interests include art, keeping the largest to-read list Goodreads has ever known, and searching for a dash of magical realism in everything.