You know that feeling when you are getting close to finishing an amazing book, and you’ve just loved it so much that you are sad to be almost done? Finding out there are more books in the same series…that helps me cope.
Book series. Some love ‘em, some hate ‘em. I understand that some series have gotten a little ridiculous, with authors cranking out books so fast that they can seem like they are being made on an assembly line. I guess when they find a formula that works, publishers have a tough time not selling more of the same. Some of these mass-produced book series are not quite up to the literary quality of other children’s books. But overall, I am a fan of series.
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My boys started out with the Magic Tree House series when they were young. I read them aloud, starting with the first book, Dinosaurs Before Dark. They devoured them. As soon as we finished one, they wanted to read the next. We read a lot of Magic Tree House. (There are a lot of Magic Tree House books.) They were very formulaic and predictable, but I didn’t mind them since my kids were learning so much from them! They developed incredible background knowledge about so many parts of history, and that has really helped them both as they’ve moved through elementary school.
Over the years, my boys have moved on to read many other book series. My older son, especially, loves finding a good series he can sink his teeth into. I would say he prefers reading books in a series to a stand-alone book. And I think that is common with a lot of elementary and middle school kids.
Often we read the first book in the series together as a read aloud, and then the kids read more on their own. Sometimes, we read the whole series together. It just depends.
Great for Reluctant Readers!
Book series can be just the thing for reluctant readers and kids who don’t love reading. A few benefits of why series can be so good for these readers:
1. Series keeps kids reading. That cliffhanger at the end of the book leads them right into the next one. And reading is reading, even if it isn’t the highest caliber literature.
2. Series help kids know what to read next. They can finish #3, and know that they want to read #4 next. It definitely simplifies the book selection decision-making process.
3. So many series exist now, there is really something for everyone, every age, every genre, and every interest. There is just such a greater selection of children’s books now than there was even 25 years ago.
A Note about Reading Series in Order
Sometimes when my kids have been reading a series, the order of the books has been unclear. For some series, it doesn’t matter if you read them in order, but for others, it matters. We usually try to read in order, when possible. If you’re ever not sure what book comes next in a series, you can use this database as a free resource: What’s Next database from Kent District Library. I keep this bookmarked on my computer.
20 Book Series that are Worth Your Kids’ Time
Below, I am including a list of 20 great book series that are worth your kids’ time. Some of these were favorites of mine as a child, others my kids have enjoyed, and some on the list are books my middle school library students couldn’t get their hands on fast enough. I’ve intentionally left off some very popular series, as most people are already acquainted with those. I wanted to include instead some books that are less well-known. Some are old-fashioned, some are new, but all are great!
(I am including links to the boxed set, when possible, or the first book in the series, as well as suggested reading level for each series.)
The Henry and Mudge series, by Cynthia Rylant (Grades K-2)
The Nate the Great series, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Grades 1-4)
The Cam Jansen series, by David A. Adler (Grades 2-5)
The Littles series, by John Peterson (Grades 2-5)
The Green Knowe series, by L.M. Boston (Grades 2-5)
The Tales of Magic series, by Edward Eager (Grades 2-5)
The All-of-a-Kind-Family series, by Sydney Taylor (Grades 3-6)
The Moffats series, by Eleanor Estes (Grades 3-6)
The Treasure Hunters series, by James Patterson (Grades 3-7)
The Melendy Quartet, by Elizabeth Enright (Grades 3-7)
The Betsy-Tacy series, by Maud Hart Lovelace (Grades 3-7)
The Sisters Grimm series, by Michael Buckley (Grades 4-6) (e-book on sale for $1.99 right now on Amazon)
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series, by Chris Grabenstein (Grades 4-7)
The Mysterious Benedict Society series, by Trenton Lee Stewart (Grades 4-7)
The Wings of Fire series, by Tui Sutherland (Grades 4-7)
A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, by Madeleine L’Engle (Grades 4-7)
The Ranger’s Apprentice series, by John A. Flanagan (Grades 4-8)
Shadow Children series, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Grades 5-8)
Anne of Green Gables series, by L.M. Montgomery (Grades 5-8)
The Menagerie series, by Tui Sutherland (Grades 5-8) (e-book on sale for $1.99 right now on Amazon)
Some notables I intentionally left off the list
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t include some well-known series on this list. I’m assuming you’ve already heard of Magic Tree House, the Little House series, the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Percy Jackson series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hunger Games Trilogy, and the Divergent Series. I would highly recommend all of those as well as the ones listed above, if you haven’t tried them already!
I hope you can use this list to find some great series to try! Enjoy!