Every mother’s dream is to have a reader child, more so if she is an ardent reader herself. I have been a voracious reader whole my life but all my three kids possibly failed to inherit my love for readers. Having written about how to revive your reading, how to overcome readers’ block, and many other posts, I used to wonder what went wrong in bringing my little ones close to the books. They say that you read so much that we lost the appetite to read. Well, jokes apart, when their ADHD diagnosis came out, I knew that I had to bring them to reading as their fast-moving brain also needed food. So I asked my oldest child, my daughter to get one book from the library. I asked her to take one book that she loved from the cover. And thus came the world of dork diaries and wimpy kids. Having seen the rage that these books have become I too wanted to see what’s inside. I must say I was appalled beyond measure. I will tell you why?
Dork Diaries and Wimpy Kid- Are they ideal kids books?
Here is why I no longer wish my kids to read any of these anymore.
1. Unrealistic Portrayal of Success
The protagonists of both books want to be successful while they are average themselves. The fact that the kids look or speak in a particular manner, makes the kids empathize with the characters but on a negative stereotypical tangent. An average child reading the book might develop the idea that I have to be popular to accomplish something. This is a problematic notion to instill in young kids, especially in an era when self-love and self-esteem are celebrated.
2. Lack of respect
The book feeds on the ‘bad parents’ syndrome. Well, there is no medical term like this but you know what I mean. Lying to parents, being sneaky, etc has been depicted as the easy way out to be popular. The need to become popular has to be reinforced here. On one hand, experts cite examples of great personalities who had dyslexia, ADHD, etc, and have grown up to become immensely successful, these books feed on the insecurities of the kids and incite the need to be the popular child by hook or crook.’
The term racism raises a few eyebrows as the term is always associated with blacks. But the generalized stereotypes of white blonde vamps in the books and movies are flagrantly used here.
My kids started the name-calling business once they got into the book and movie adaptation along with the movies and videos in a similar genre made it all the worse. Why the entertainment arena makes sure to create the unrealistically twisted idea of friendship, success, and being ‘good’.
5. Feeding jealousy
The protagonists in both books are jealous of the so-called popular person whom they hate for obvious reasons. This is a dangerous trend to create. If we closely observe the cyber bullies and trolls, they are all born out of these feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and spite towards the successful people who live happy life.
6. Protagonists that lie
We can see that the protagonist lies to get what is needed or to teach a lesson to the bully is a norm that is propogated in both the books. The spite that the child feels is ozzing out as a totally negative emotion. It gives an idea to the readers (who are young) that it is better to teach the bullies a lesson than report them
In short books like these create problematic ideas in kids which in turn end up skewed ideas of relationship and friendship. More so about success and failure. Dork diaries and Wimpy are fun reads as long as the child has the discretion to read it an process it as an imagination, which I doubt kids at this age would have.