Today is Judy Moody’s birthday. Celebrate on Saturday, April 4 – Stink and Judy Moody Day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Blue Bunny – 577 High Street, Dedham Square, Dedham, Massachusetts. Learn to draw Stink and Judy Moody with illustrator Peter H. Reynolds along with other fun activities.

Judy Moody Book 1Now that my boys have learned to read chapter books, they grab every opportunity to do so, choosing books on subjects they love. Admittedly, it’s a nice habit, but their preferred reading materials consist predominantly of Star Wars and Clone Wars in every form: novels, DK books, comics, movie covers, and the newspaper. Since they are Star Wars obsessed–and there seems to be an endless supply of Star Wars books, with more being written all the time–I encourage and welcome a little diversity in their reading diet.

There are a number of chapter books available for young readers; however, I’ve found it challenging to find ones that captivate my kids’ interest. My boys have explored a few series but very few stand out (please share your favorites in the comments). I like the Magic Tree House collection more than they did. They enjoyed Captain Underpants, but I could do without the bad grammar and rude humor. And Junie B. Jones, although quite popular, is another series with bad grammar that features a main character who frequently gets into trouble and gets sent to the principal’s office.

Recently my son Ethan discovered Judy Moody, a series of eight books, one activity book, and one journal written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. In between his Star Wars books, he read all eight books (at least once) in just a few weeks. I am in the Judy Moody fan club because Judy, the heroine in the story, managed to divert my son’s attention away from his sci-fi thrillers. She is engaging and funny, has her share of real moods, and seems like someone you would want to have for a friend. She is the only member of her class to have a Venus flytrap as a favorite pet, she collects band-aids and pizza tables, she loves her teacher and idolizes the first woman to become a doctor, and she formed the T.P. club with her best friend Rocky.

One of my criteria for judging a good book for kids is whether the story continues to inspire and engage them once they have finished reading it. In our house that can mean dressing up in costumes, drawing, reliving the story with toys, writing their own book, or discussing the characters with us or with their friends. When my son finished reading Judy Moody, he made his own “me-collage,” started his own collections, and loved completing the activity book, Judy Moody’s Double Rare Way Not Boring Book of Fun Stuff to Do.

Ethan is still Star Wars obsessed but his passion for Judy Moody is strong and contagious. Now his brother and their friends are reading their way though the series. I applaud Megan McDonald and Peter H. Reynolds for creating such a lovable and heroic character that is powerful enough to share the bookshelf with the Jedi.

If you love Judy Moody too, you and your kids will have fun visitng the  Judy Moody website, discover all her books, join the fan club, download activities to do “offline” and learn more about her brother, Stink, and his book series.