Some children come to a love of reading naturally. Most take a little coaxing to see the magic of books. My son’s Jack journey was long, and painful, filled with many fruitless sessions at the library, deeply uninspired by all books at his reading level.
Then Jack discovered the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Suddenly my reluctant reader would run home to jump on his bed and bury his nose in a book. He read the entire series in a month, and then he read it again, and again and again. The tale of a misunderstood middle child harassed by his older sibling echoed powerfully with his life experience. The fact that it was a bit irreverent, and punctuated by funny cartoons just added to the appeal.
Jack had been counting the days to the release of Third Wheel for the last two months. Then, a few days before the book hit the shelves, we got the most wonderful invitation from Jeff Kinney’s PR office. Were any of my children fans of the series and were they interested in interviewing the author?
Jack whipped off his questions in under a minute. I took a look, ready to tell him to work a little harder, but they were great, insightful, and interesting. “Who do you compete with?” “How much did your editors edit your books?” “Is Jeff Kinney your real name?” We were ready.
Two days later, Jack got to meet the creator of his favorite series. Jeff was kind, attentive, and took the time to learn each child’s name (there were 6 on the bus). He gave us a tour of the bus he’s traveling around the country for the book tour, and left each kid deeply inspired. When one little girl told him that she wanted to be an author when she grew up, he answered, “Why wait? Be an author now!”
I had been hearing about Jeff Kinney and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series for over a year from my son, but now I’ve become a fan too. The fact that this busy author took the time to speak to these kids, answering thoughtfully to each of their questions, has made me a fan for life. Later that night, Jack presented me with a list of the authors he wants to meet. The fact that he now considers book authors to be bigger than rockstars is all to the credit of Jeff Kinney. I couldn’t think of a better role model.