Hooked on a Series
The fifth-grader in our family recently informed me that she’s reading the Nancy Drew series. The original series ran from 1930 until 2003, then was recently reprised as an updated series called Girl Detective. All this fanfare over an 88-year-old collection of novels just reinforces the allure of the book series. From Curious George to Harry Potter to Hunger Games to Game of Thrones, series books appeal to readers of all ages and interests.
What is it about books in series that appeals to so many readers? There’s comfort in the predictability of the plot, the familiarity of the settings, and the consistency of the text structures. And because we come to know the characters, we want to know what’s going to happen to them next and we can relate to how they will react to their situations.
Critics complain that series books aren’t “literary” because they tend to be predictable, sometimes even formulaic. But those are the very features that make series books appealing to struggling readers. Familiarity and predictability build confidence as readers – and research is telling us that they also build competence. In fact, reading book series not only gets struggling readers to read more, it makes them better readers. Now is the time to get our struggling readers hooked on a series!