Date Approved

3-2014

Date Posted

5-5-2014

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Ramona Caponegro, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Annette Wannamaker, PhD

Committee Member

Annette Wannamaker, PhD

Abstract

Since the release of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the multimodal, middle-grade diary book has gained popularity. The series features “handwritten,” journal entries and drawings and has elicited many imitators, the most prominent of which is Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries. While the diary form is not new to children’s literature, these series reinvent the established conventions through drawings and supplementary online environments. Both series are routinely identified as for reluctant readers; however, their diversity of form actually leads to complex reader engagement. My purpose is to refute the idea that the books are useful only as precursors to “better” books. I will do this by exploring the popularity of these books, by examining the types of reading the books ask for, and by showing how they encourage innovative writing experiences. Ultimately, the series demonstrate how texts for child readers are changing to fit a dynamic literacy landscape.

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