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Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.
A colleague recently sent me a link to new and "hot" children's book releases. The majority of them were books that featured well known and proven characters like the eloquent Nancy of fancy language fame and a skeleton detective, Dirk Bones (both HarperCollins).
There are also a number of series books based on television and movie characters. Think Transformers, Spider Man, and even Max and Ruby.
I was always a bit dismissive of series books until I came across a piece of research by C. S. Ross published in 1995. In "If they read Nancy Drew, so what?: Series book readers talk back" Seems that Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and all of the other series that I gulped down as a kid were actually beneficial to the emerging reader in me.
Ross concludes that series teaches children to read by not only getting children reading, but also by introducing them to patterns in books — and I'll add that these patterns are visual as well as textual (plot, characterization, etc.).
And so, maybe it's not such a bad thing — especially if adults read widely and continue to introduce young readers to a broad range of books — books that are stand alones, books that might stretch the imagination and even the comfort level of readers and listeners.
Frankly, I always think of poetry when I think of stretching security zones. A lot of adults are uncomfortable with it — but even here, a series book can help. Teachers and children alike will appreciate what Gooney Bird and others in Mrs. Pidgeon's 2nd grade class learn about poetry in Lois Lowry's Gooney Bird is So Absurd (Houghton).
And so I'll continue to read extensively but I won't feel nearly as guilty the next time I pick up one of my adult novels that just may be one of a series.