The National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House hosted an exclusive schools event with the world-famous Diary of Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney in Newcastle on Friday 16 November, as part of the Read North East campaign and Jeff’s global tour for the thirteenth book in the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

600 pupils from local schools were treated to an interactive event with the much-loved author at Newcastle Civic Centre. Children had the opportunity to hear about Jeff’s writing process and his travels around the world, learn how to draw his famous character Greg Heffley, pose their own questions to Jeff and take part in other fun activities inspired by the new book. Each child was also gifted a copy of the The Meltdown to take home.

National Literacy Trust research shows that while 72% of children ages 8-18 in the North East enjoy reading, only 40% say they read every day outside class. There is also a significant gap between the number of boys and girls who enjoy reading (69% of boys, compared with 78% girls). The charity hopes the event will inspire more boys in particular to fall in love with books and read more at home.

Over 10 million copies of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series have been sold in the UK. The thirteenth title in the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown is currently top of the children’s fiction charts.

The event with Jeff Kinney comes after pupils across the region took part in a Diary of a Wimpy Kid comic book competition earlier this term. The competition asked pupils to design their own three-panel comic strip inspired by those that appear in Jeff’s books, about something funny that happened when returning to school after the summer holidays. The lucky competition winner, Jayden Anderson from Broadway Junior School in Sunderland, joined the event and had the chance to meet his hero along with his classmates.

Jeff Kinney’s visit to Newcastle marks the start of an exciting weekend for the region as the Northern Children’s Book Festival gala dinner took place on Saturday 17 November. A range of exciting sessions for children of all ages are set to take place at  November at Gateshead Central Library and The Shipley Art Gallery.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust said:

“We were delighted that so many pupils from the North East were able to attend this exciting event with Jeff Kinney, an author who has helped so many reluctant readers to fall in love with books. We know that author engagement and fun and memorable events such as this one can support a child’s learning and encourage them to read for enjoyment outside of school. In turn this has an important impact on their happiness and future success.”

Jeff Kinney said:
“The work that the National Literacy Trust is doing in the UK to promote literacy is so very important and this is a cause I feel very passionate about. I hope that my event has helped to inspire children who may have had fewer opportunities to develop a love for reading.”

Following the success of the competition for schools the North East, the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House have launched a nationwide competition entitled Wimpy Kid Diary Writing Competition. Inspired by Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown, in which a snowstorm shuts down Greg Heffley’s middle school and turns his neighbourhood into a wintry battlefield, the competition challenges children aged 7 to 12 from across the UK to write a 500-word diary entry about the most exciting snow day they have ever had or could possibly imagine.

Prizes include a Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown print signed by Jeff Kinney, £100 worth of Puffin Books and £500 worth of Puffin Books for their school library. 10 runners-up will each receive a signed copy of the book.

A series of free teaching resources, activities, top tips and posters are available on the National Literacy Trust website.

To find out more about Read North East visit readnortheast.org.uk

To find out more about entering the national Diary of a Wimpy Kid competition, visit literacytrust.org.uk/competitions/wimpy-kid