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Maria Salvadore

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.

Series books

May 26, 2009

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.



Here's a correction on my last post. The series mentioned was "Choose Your Own Adventure" not "Write Your Own Adventure."

Maria, I can attest to the benefits of reading series books. My son who just finished his freshman year of college tore through several series: Anamorphs, Write your Own Adventure, and Hardy Boys when he was younger. It was what interested him at the time and kept him reading. Now he is an English and Writing Major and reading all kinds of "high" literature, not just for school but on his own time as well.

Thanks for the great post, Maria! My two girls (ages 7 and 9) LOVE series books right now. They run right to certain shelves in the library hoping to find ones they haven't read in their favorite series (right now: Anamorphs, Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children). Have you seen this cool series wiki? It's helped us discover new series to read:

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"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." —

J.K. Rowling