“Diary of a Wimpy Kid”Yesterday the New York Times published a story called “Crossover Dreams,” about what every fledgling fiction writer wishes would happen: a print publisher decides to publish their work – something first published online – as a print book.

The book in this case is a novel for 4th – 7th-grade kids, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by online game developer Jeff Kinney. Diary was first published in 2004 on funbrain.com, and it’s still there. If you read through it, you’ll see how it could make the jump from the Web to the printed page so easily. (Abrams published it in April, by the way, and the sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules will be published in February.)

It’s an extremely lightweight, highly informal novel, with lots of doodly-cartoon illustrations, about a middle child with an older brother and a younger brother. He’s easy to identify with because like most middle children, he feels as if everyone else gets all the breaks. It’s not going to win the Newbery, but it’s a fun, quick read, and the perfect kind of thing to succeed online.

Motoko Rich, author of the Times article, says:

Despite laments about youngsters spending too much time surfing the Web and not enough time reading, it turns out that many of them still want the format of old-fashioned paper stuck between two covers.

One, two, three, fellow librarians: “Duh.” Of course, we who work with kids and books all know this, so I have to smile when other people seem to find it a surprise.

Once again, I say: let’s get trained booktalkers (meaning us, mostly, but it doesn’t have to be) into all the schools to do commercials for books for grades 3 to 8, as frequently as we can. That’s the best way I know to persuade kids in those critical grades to read more and thus find more great books that – because more kids will now be reading – will have leapt over from the Web to 3D “real book” format. Commercials, folks, commercials – they work on TV; why not get them working in the schools?

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