Saturday, January 14, 2006

Series Books

Chicken Spaghetti pointed me to this article in Newsweek about the success of children's series books. Great fun to read about the sequels coming in my favorite series. A new Charlie Bone is due this spring plus a spin off. I bet it will be about his friend Benjamin, the owner of the dog, Runner Bean. As I recall his parents are secret agents or something like that.

As a reader and a librarian I have always been a huge fan of series books for kids (and grownups.) If teaching reading is the goal, then series books are the ideal material for young readers. The characters are a known quantity, the action is (usually) fast paced and the format familiar.

Kids get to be better readers by READING. As educators we want as many words as possible to pass beneath their gaze. I was always amazed at librarians who refused to have Goosebumps or Captain Underpants in their libraries. These two series especially, appeal to reluctant readers who cannot begin to handle Harry Potter.

I was lucky in my quest for teaching certification to take classes from child lit guru, Richard Abrahamson and reading specialist, Kylene Beers. I already had a masters degree so I was in the graduate classes for certification, not for another degree. The first day of class Beers asked everyone to close their eyes and raise their right hand if they considered themselves an avid reader. Then with eyes still closed she asked us to raise our left hand if we had ever been hooked on a series as a kid. She had us open our eyes and look around the classroom. Every adult who considered themselves a reader had both arms in the air -- 'nuff said.

I'm still waiting to get my hands on the next Alex Rider -- Ark Angel


Michele said...

I looked at Ark Angel in the library yesterday (whilst the librarian went in search of the errant copy of White Darkness that I was trying to collect ! I decided not to borrow it just yet - I've not read Eagle Strike or Scorpia yet - too busy working my way through Robin Hobb's 3 series ! (How can reading series fiction be bad ?)

Camille said...

It is interesting how some school librarians "sniff" at supposedly "lowbrow" literature. The most recent permutation of this argument is the debate over graphic novels. Honestly, there are some folks who will not have Goosebumps in their library because it is not "good" literature. I figure we want kids to read, why not give them the books they want to read then they will read?
Hoo boy.

Anonymous said...

I happen to think that Captain U is pretty sophisticated stuff. I mean, there's the bathroom humor and all, but getting the most out of those books involves a high degree of 'text literacy' (don't forget to read the chapter titles!), and visual literacy, too. Like a picturebook, both the text and the illustrations are important in a Captain Underpants book.

Camille said...

Jill, I agree with you completely. I adore the Captain. I keep saying he has done more for boys'literacy then any other title I can think of.

I will always remember one of my non-reading students looking at me in amazement and shock and saying, "Mrs. P...I just can't stop reading these books!"