Teacher's Guide

READING/LANGUAGE ARTS: Children's Literature

Series Books

I don't know about you, but I was an inveterate series reader as a child. I was a good reader, mind you, and read all sorts of stuff, not just series books. But I admit that I enjoyed them. There was something so comfortable about reading again and again about Nancy Drew and her steady, Ned, or about Cherry Ames at the hospital.

Today, series books are more prolific than ever. For many children, series books are their first positive experience with chapter books. Years ago, I had a fourth grader reader who loved the books of R.L. Stine. She and I had a wonderful correspondence in her journal about what it was that she liked so much about them. When I asked her to recommend one to me, she spent a great deal of time trying to decide exactly which one was best and why. While I admit I struggled to sustain my attention through the Goosebumps she finally recommended, I could still see how these books' safe scariness made them perfect for less-confident readers.

Some teachers are leery of series books, in some cases, even going so far as to ban them from the classroom. I understand this sensibility because they aren't great literature, and there is always the worry that children will never move on to other kinds of literature. My experience is that they do. I allow my students to select whatever they wish to read for independent reading. However, I read a wide range of literature aloud, do various whole–and small–group literature studies, and work with them individually — recommending other books to try. Generally, I find that those who come in reading series usually move on before too long as they discover a greater range of authors who offer chills and thrills, mystery, and romance.

The Web offers a range of opportunities for those who love series books. Check out the Girls' Series Web Page and the Boys'/Children's Series Books site for excellent overviews of old and new series. Ann M. Martin, author of The Baby-sitters Club and other series has a fine site as well. Another favorite for girls is the American Girl series. And, finally, how could we forget Animorphs, very popular in my eleven-year-old nephew's set?

Series books, while perhaps not great literature, are wonderful bridges as children begin to emerge as confident and independent readers.

Monica Edinger

Tour Itinerary

Nancy Drew

Cherry Ames

R.L. Stine

Girls' Series Web Page

Boys'/Children's Series Books

The Baby-sitters Club

Ann M. Martin

American Girl