Whether you’re a self-proclaimed dork or cute, cool, and, popular (a.k.a. a CCP), middle school offers plenty of tricky terrain to tackle. Just ask Nikki Maxwell, the star of Rachel Renée Russell’s super-popular Dork Diaries series.
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In Tales from a Not-So-Best Friend Forever, the 14th installment in the series, Nikki is beyond excited for a summer spent touring as the opening act for the famous Bad Boyz! But her excitement comes crashing down when she learns that arch nemesis Mackenzie Hollis has finagled a spot on the tour as a social media intern. Worst of all? She’s going to be Nikki’s roommate. Is this tour—and summer!—going to be completely ruined? Knowing Nikki, she’ll manage to find a way to turn things around, but there’s probably going to be a bit of drama involved.
No idea what we’re talking about? Then your young reader must not be part of the Dork Diaries superfandom—yet! The series follows 14-year-old Nikki, as she navigates middle school and all its crushes, friends, enemies, and more. The stories are told from her first-person perspective through diary entries and illustrations, and there’s just so much to love about the series that we could devote an entire journal to it. But instead we’ll give you the rundown on just a few of the things we adore about Dork Diaries.
1. It’s a family affair. Rachel Renée Russell is the awesome author of the bestselling Dork Diaries series, but it’s not a solo venture for the mom of two. Not only is Nikki Maxwell named after Russell’s youngest daughter, but our main character’s personality is a combination of Russell and both of her daughters. Plus, her oldest daughter, Erin, helps with writing the books, while her youngest, Nikki, helps with the illustrations. We can’t wait to read the books her girls publish someday!
2. The writing and illustrations are everything. Reading someone else’s diary may sound totally scandalous, but—when you’re doing it with permission, like we do with Nikki’s diary—it’s actually pretty insightful. And, in Nikki’s case, it’s usually pretty hilarious as she gives us the play-by-play on encounters with her friends, her crush, and even her enemy, MacKenzie. Plus, the fun illustrations and doodles throughout the book add a whole other layer to the stories and Nikki’s personality.
3. The books serve up real-deal relatable middle school drama/trauma along with lots of fun fantasy escapism. Just like real-world kids, Nikki and her pals have to handle homework, teachers, parents, peer pressure, friends, enemies, frenemies, crushes, dances, breakouts, and breakups. And Nikki writes about it all in her diary. Plus, young readers get to experience some things through Nikki that they otherwise might not in real life—like when Nikki lands an advice column in the school newspaper in Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a Not-so-Smart Miss Know-it-All, gets her own reality TV show in Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star, and takes a dreamy trip into a magical fairy tale land in Dork Diaries 8: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After.
4. So. Many. Books. With 14 regular books in the series and two guided diaries, middle grade readers will have loads of reading material to fill their shelves and their free time. Part comic and part notebook-style novel, the books are fast-paced, funny reads full of detailed entries, drawings, and doodles from Nikki’s day-to-day life at school and beyond.
5. Diary inspiration! Forget poring over #journalinspo on Instagram and Pinterest. Kids can just open the pages of any of Nikki’s diaries for some journaling motivation, and then put pen to their own paper. If your little budding writers and artists aren’t sure where to start, grab them a copy of Dork Diaries 3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary. In it, Nikki can’t find her diary anywhere, and until she does, she’s starting a list of diary-keeping lessons for emergencies like this one. There’s plenty of space in the book for your child to write and draw her own entries. Then she’ll be ready to check out Dork Diaries: OMG! All About Me Diary!, a guided journal just for them, with questions for every day of the year.
What do your young readers love about Dork Diaries?