People have kept journals for a myriad of reasons: during frightening times of war, as a way to record travels and exploration, or just to lament about school and crushes. Journals and diaries are particularly important during times of trouble because they provide historical evidence for major historic events. But daily journals kept during times of peace also provide information for what life was like for the average person. This list features books written in a notebook or diary format, from the silly to the serious. Some are written as fictional stories and others are copied from actual diaries and memories. Perhaps these honest tales will inspire you to write down your own.
When searching for books in a diary format, try searching the subject phrases “juvenile literature” or “juvenile fiction” with subject phrases like “diaries,” “personal narratives,” and “children’s diaries.”
Diary of a Fly. 2007.
A young fly discovers, day by day, that there is a lot to learn about being an insect, including the dangers of flypaper and that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
[SSHEL S Collection S.E. C881di]
Diary of a Baby Wombat. 2010.
Through a week of diary entries, a wombat describes his life of sleeping, playing, and helping his mother look for a bigger hole in which to make their home.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. F888d2010]
Beginner and Intermediate Nonfiction
The Log of Christopher Columbus’ First Voyage to America in the Year 1492. 1989.
Presents the log of Christopher Columbus as copied out in brief by his companion, Bartholomew Las Casas, relating the day-to-day drama of a long sea voyage into the unknown.
[SSHEL S Collection SB.C726C1]
The Lewis and Clark Journals. 2003.
Provides a history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, including excerpts from journals that Lewis and Clark kept during the journey, and describes how historical documents such as these can be restored and preserved.
[SSHEL S Collection S.917.804 C245l]
Li, Judith L.
Ellie’s Log: Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell. 2013.
With help from her parents, a forest manager and a wildlife biologist, and in the company of new friend Ricky, eleven-year-old Ellie fills a field notebook with sketches and notes about nature in the woods near her home. Includes suggestions on how to keep a field notebook. A teacher’s guide is available online.
[SSHEL S Collection S.577 L6121e]
Amelia’s 5th-Grade Notebook. 2003.
Amelia uses her diary to record the great events in her life during the year which she spent in the fifth grade.
[SSHEL S Collection S.M855a5]
Cartboy Goes to Camp. 2014.
Filled with photos, drawings, and timelines, Hal’s journal chronicles his hilarious adventures at Camp Jamestown — where nothing has changed in 400 years.
[SSHEL S Collection S. C1531ca]
Dear Diary. 2000.
Peek between these droll pages for the hand-lettered story of one very strange day in the life of just about everyone and everything in sight. This unusual title is an oddball assortment of diary writers who tell all in a quirky, colorful picture-book collage with a touch of attitude.
[SSHEL S Collection S.F2131d]
Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter. 2001.
The fictional diary of a nine-year-old boy who, in 1716 sets off from North Carolina to become a sailor, but ends up a pirate instead.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. S.P697p]
Teens and Young Adult
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal. 2007.
Greg records his sixth grade experiences in a middle school where he and his best friend, Rowley, undersized weaklings amid boys who need to shave twice daily, hope just to survive, but when Rowley grows more popular, Greg must take drastic measures to save their friendship.
[SSHEL S Collection S. K623di]
Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life. 2009.
Fourteen-year-old Nikki Maxwell writes in her diary of her struggle to be popular at her exclusive new private school, then of finding her place after she gives up on being part of the elite group.
[SSHEL S Collection S. R917d]
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. 2000.
Presents the humorous journal of a year in the life of a fourteen-year-old British girl who tries to reduce the size of her nose, stop her mad cat from terrorizing the neighborhood animals, and win the love of handsome hunk Robbie.
[SSHEL S Collection S. R2952a2000]
Revenge of the Titan. 2012.
Preparing for a first competition with the Grizzlies only to learn from mean girl Clementine Prescott that her popularity has tanked, Maddy harbors suspicions that her new secret friend, Katie Parker, may be responsible.
[SSHEL S Collection S. Ev151r]
Nonfiction Teens and Young Adult
Thura’s Diary: My Life in Wartime Iraq. 2004.
Nineteen-year-old Thura al-Windawi kept a diary during the conflict in Iraq, saying that it was her way of “controlling the chaos.” The diary, which documents the days leading up to the bombings, the war itself, and the lawless aftermath, puts a personal face on life in Baghdad.
[SSHEL S Collection SB. A316t]
We’re Alive and Life Goes on: A Theresienstadt Diary. 1998.
Presents the diary entries of a young woman living in the Jewish ghetto of Theresienstadt, a model concentration camp designed by the Nazis to show to the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations.
[SSHEL S Collection SB. R853w:E]
Greenberg, Judith E.
Journal of a Revolutionary War Woman. 1996.
Entries from the journal of Mary Titus Post written during the American Revolution are presented with background information to help explain their historical context.
[SSHEL S Collection SB.P8572G]