To foster a love of reading in children, there is nothing more effective than getting them hooked on a series. In fact, even as an adult, this is how I prefer to structure my own reading experience. I have especially enjoyed the adventures of private eye Kinsey Milhone in Sue Grafton’s “Alphabet Series” over the years. There’s something very comforting about revisiting favorite characters as the story continues on over the course of several separate volumes. The “can’t wait to see what happens next” series also helps in the reading motivation department for both kids and adults. Let’s face it, sometimes the lure of television and internet is great, especially when these activities are so much more passive and effortless than investing oneself in the activity of reading BYOI (Bring Your Own Imagination).
As a parent, I’ve always tried to encourage my boys to read, for all the same reasons I limit their treats and insist that they eat vegetables and fruit with every meal–because I know it’s good for them. My own efforts were an uphill battle until I discovered the magic of the series. Once each of them found a series they were interested in, with a main character or characters they could relate to, my work was done. Except for the energy expended driving them back and forth to the library, I could just sit back and watch them go…noses in books, vocabularies expanding, brains developing, right before my very eyes!
Parents today understand the value of reading, and this is reinforced by school systems and local libraries nowadays as well, with accelerated reading programs. My boys have been enrolled in our local library’s Excellence in Reading program for a couple of years now. They read books from a group selected by the children’s librarian, at their grade level, and take quizzes on the material in order to earn points and prizes along the way. This has provided great incentive as well for my kids to get into reading as a hobby and personal interest. These programs are fantastic! It is likely that your library has something similar, but if not, you should talk to them about starting one. You can also structure your own program at home, using internet programs such as the one available here: Book Adventure
But, when all is said and done, a great series will help children develop a healthy addiction to reading. Here are five of my kids’ favorite series, from very young to middle school age…If you have other recommendations (including some for high school aged readers), please add them below in the comment area. I need some ideas for future series myself!
Biscuit, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
This series is recommended for ages 2+, and is all about the adventures of a little puppy named, you guessed it, Biscuit! You’ll read them to children at first, and the series also has several “I Can Read!” versions of Biscuit stories for older than 2, young beginning readers.
The Magic Tree House Series, by Mary Pope Osborne
I can’t say enough good things about this ongoing series, because it’s my absolute favorite for kids. This one has it all, folks…adventure, educational value courtesy of the stories themselves, and the accompanying study guides for practically each adventure with all sorts of factual information! Your kids, and frankly you too, will be delighted by brother and sister team Jack and Annie, who are whisked away to a different time and place in each book, courtesy of the magic treehouse in their own backyard. This one is rated ages 4-8 on Amazon.com As for reading level, it all depends on where your child is, skills wise, but my son got into it around the end of 2nd grade.
The Little House Series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, of course
I read these as a child in elementary school. Of course, everyone has heard of this one because not only is it a classic book series, but it was a wildly popular television series as well. My youngest is reading his way through the life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder now, so that is proof positive that it can appeal to boys and girls. My older son didn’t care for it much, but my younger one is more interested in history and the “old fashioned”. He’s riveted, and if your elementary schooler loves pioneer days tales, he or she will be too! The Little House books are rated at a reading level of 9-12 years old.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
These volumes were written by C.S. Lewis as Christian allegories. If you prefer more secular reading materials for your child, please don’t let that stop you from giving this series a whirl! Just like the movie series inspired by these magical tales of adventures in Narnia, fully accessible from the magic wardrobe, these fantasy stories have a high level of appeal to children and adults of all faiths. The stories are what you make of them! The Chronicles of Narnia are suitable for kids ages 9-199.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordian
This is the only series I’ve mentioned here that I don’t know a whole lot about. My 12 year old found it on his own on the Excellence In Reading shelf at the library and can’t put it down. That’s good enough for me! It’s an adventure series, and the main character has ADHD, which might have been the initial attraction for my son, who struggles with that disorder himself. The best plug I can give you for the Percy Jackson Series is that it is the only book or book series that has ever caused him to ask if he can keep reading past his designated, Mom imposed, reading time. Wow!
I hope you and your family are having a great summer…. But, if you’re hearing that classic line, “I’m BORED” just a little too often…you might want to try a new book series. Sometimes, it’s the perfect solution!