Do you — or one of the kids in your life — love Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Jeff Kinney‘s hilarious and fun graphic book about a boy trying to survive middle school is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. If you want more illustrated books with funny and sweet coming-of-age stories, check out our lists of books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid below! Publishers’ descriptions included.
The Misadventures of Max Crumbly by Rachel Renee Russell
A brand-new series from #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries author Rachel Renee Russell! Introducing Max Crumbly!
Max Crumbly is about to face the scariest place he’s ever been: South Ridge Middle School.
There’s a lot that’s great about his new school, but there’s also one big problem — Doug, the school bully whose hobby is stuffing Max in his locker.
If only Max could be like the hero in his favorite comics. Unfortunately, Max’s uncanny, almost superhuman ability to smell pizza from a block away won’t exactly save any lives or foil bad guys.
But that doesn’t mean Max won’t do his best to be the hero his school needs!
My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian
Summer’s finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek’s dreams of fun come to an end. Ever since he’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” his mom has pushed him to read “real” books — something other than his beloved Calvin & Hobbes.
As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself (in diapers! no less), he realizes that adventures and surprises are around the corner, complete with curve balls. My Life as a Book is a 2011 Bank Street — Best Children’s Book of the Year.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Raina Telgemeier’s #1 New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-winning graphic memoir based on her childhood!
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.
Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald
Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he’s managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he’s in middle school, avoiding reading isn’t as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he’s tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.
Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he’ll go to get out of reading a book.
Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm
Summer’s over and it’s time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of… middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she’s doing, she always tells him she’s fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time. Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing… but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who’s been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him… because he’s changed. Luckily Sunny’s got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side… because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she’s going to remain Sunny-side up!
Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce
Sixth-grader Nate Wright is on top of the world… with a little help from his friends! His best buddies, Francis and Teddy, stick with Nate through thick and thin–usually thin. They’ve seen it all. Nate’s disastrous love life, his chess tournament trash talking, even his misguided attempt to be a “bad boy.” Along the way, Nate and his pals are joined by Artur, the gentle exchange student who’s popular with almost everyone. And don’t forget Gina, the teacher’s pet who gets an “A” for annoying. They’re all here in this collection of cartoons, featuring highlights from Nate’s most hilarious adventures.
Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jennifer L. Holm, Invisible Emmie is a humorous and surprising debut graphic novel by Terri Libenson, creator of the internationally syndicated, Reuben Award-winning comic strip The Pajama Diaries.
This is the story of two totally different girls—
quiet, shy, artistic Emmie
popular, outgoing, athletic Katie
—and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day, when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands…
All the crushes, humiliations, boredom, and drama of middle school are compressed into one surprising day in this extraordinary novel.
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
People are always daring Billy to do zany things. But Billy may have bitten off more than he can chew when he takes his friend Alan’s bet that Billy can’t eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. If Billy wins, Alan has to fork over fifty dollars. Billy wants the money to buy a used minibike, so he’s ready to dig in. He sets up mustard and ketchup, salt and pepper, and sugar and lemon to disguise the disgusting taste. Good news for Billy — once he gets going, he finds himself actually getting hooked on those juicy worms. Bad news for Billy — Alan is busy cooking up schemes to make Billy worm out of the bet. Will Billy keep up his wormy work for fifteen days? No cheating! Keep eating! Worm by worm by worm…
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
“They say I’m wired bad, or wired sad, but there’s no doubt about it — I’m wired.”
Joey Pigza’s got heart, he’s got a mom who loves him, and he’s got “dud meds,” which is what he calls the Ritalin pills that are supposed to even out his wild mood swings. Sometimes Joey makes bad choices. He learns the hard way that he shouldn’t stick his finger in the pencil sharpener, or swallow his house key, or run with scissors. Joey ends up bouncing around a lot — and eventually he bounces himself all the way downtown, into the district special-ed program, which could be the end of the line. As Joey knows, if he keeps making bad choices, he could just fall between the cracks for good. But he is determined not to let that happen.
In this antic yet poignant new novel, Jack Gantos has perfect pitch in capturing the humor, the off-the-wall intensity, and the serious challenges that life presents to a kid dealing with hyper-activity and related disorders. This title has Common Core connections.
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is a 1998 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
On her first day at her new school, Penelope — Peppi — Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!
Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals — the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!
Frazzled by Booki Vivat
Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis — and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because everyone seems to have a Thing except her. Abbie Wu is always in crisis.
From debut author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is and where she belongs. Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone in the middle of figuring out how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up.
Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
Can an undercover nerd become a superstar agent? Ben Ripley sure hopes so — and his life may depend on it!
Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: C.I.A. or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science — but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior C.I.A. academy. Could the C.I.A. really want him?
Actually, no. There’s been a case of mistaken identity — but that doesn’t stop Ben from trying to morph into a supercool undercover agent, the kind that always gets the girl. And through a series of hilarious misadventures, Ben realizes he might actually be a halfway decent spy…if he can survive all the attempts being made on his life!
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends — and why it’s worth the journey.
When best friends are not forever…
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top… even if it means bullying others.
Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group — or out?
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?
Middle School by James Patterson
Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he’s got an ace plan for the best year ever, if only he can pull it off: With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school’s oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class — 5,000 points! Running in the hallway-10,000 points! Pulling the fire alarm — 50,000 points! But when Rafe’s game starts to catch up with him, he’ll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he’s finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he’s been avoiding.
Blockbuster author James Patterson delivers a genuinely hilarious-and surprisingly poignant-story of a wildly imaginative, one-of-kind kid that you won’t soon forget.
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
Calling all Raina Telgemeier fans! The Newbery Honor-winning author of Roller Girl is back with a heartwarming graphic novel about starting middle school, surviving your embarrassing family, and the Renaissance Faire.
Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind—she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.
As she did in Roller Girl, Victoria Jamieson perfectly — and authentically — captures the bittersweetness of middle school life with humor, warmth, and understanding.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
A 2015 Newbery Honor Book Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful — and very awkward — hearing aid.
The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear–sometimes things she shouldn’t — but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.
Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis
Meet detective Timmy Failure, star of the kids’ comedy of the year. Created by New York Times best-selling cartoonist Stephan Pastis.
Take Timmy Failure — the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Throw in the Failuremobile — Timmy’s mom’s Segway — and what you have is Total Failure, Inc., a global enterprise destined to make Timmy so rich his mother won’t have to stress out about the bills anymore. Of course, Timmy’s plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn’t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into Stanfurd that he can’t carry out a no-brainer spy mission.
From the offbeat creator of Pearls Before Swine comes an endearingly bumbling hero in a caper whose peerless hilarity is accompanied by a whodunit twist. With perfectly paced visual humor, Stephan Pastis gets you snorting with laughter, then slyly carries the joke a beat further — or sweetens it with an unexpected poignant moment — making this a comics-inspired story (the first in a new series) that truly stands apart from the pack.
Which books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid do you recommend? Tell us in the comments!