Hooked on a Series
The fifth-grader in our family recently informed me that she’s reading the Nancy Drew series. Seriously? Nancy Drew books are still around? Believe it or not, the original series ran from 1930 until 2003! (Who knew that Carolyn Keene was actually a collection of anonymous authors?) That’s when the publishers decided to stop publishing the old series and feature Nancy in an updated series called Girl Detective. Some readers complain that the new Nancy is timid and fearful, as opposed to the old Nancy, who was defined as bold, capable and independent; others think she’s more authentic and easy to relate to. Many readers appreciate the graphic novel and movie extensions.
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. There is comfort in the familiarity of the settings and plot structures. Readers become invested in the characters and want to know what will happen to them next.
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. For struggling readers in particular, reading series books actually improves comprehension and fluency. Read five compelling reasons to hook your struggling readers on a series.