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Terry

Reading Aloud: Picking Books to Read with a Mixed-Age Audience

Posted by Terry on August 30, 2010 at 10:30 AM in Nonfiction BooksPoetryRecommendationsSeriescreative literacy
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As you may have seen, Gina announced last week that we're winding down here at Booklights. Susan has brought some cake, and I'll bring something to the bon voyage soon, but today I'm going to finish up talking about reading as a family.

541417081_7960714e0a.jpgAs I mentioned last week, reading with your kids - even when there are many years between them - can be enjoyable for everyone to share together. Sometimes it may be about the book, but every time it is an opportunity to connect with your kids and connect them with each other!

In The Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease emphasizes that as readers, we have a listening level and a reading level. In Hey! Listen to This! (an article on his website), he re-emphasizes this point.

ReadAloudHandbook.jpg"A consistent mistake made by parents and teachers is the assumption that a child's listening level is the same as his or her reading level. Until about eighth grade, that is far from true; early primary grade students listen many grades above their reading level. This means that early primary grade students are capable of hearing and understanding stories that are far more complicated than those they can read themselves."

What does that mean? Well, you don't have to read just simple picture books. Young audiences can be enticed to enjoy text-heavy picture books and chapter books alike. There are a number of genres that naturally lend themselves to reading to mixed-age audiences, including ...

UMaryland.jpgNonfiction. More specifically, nonfiction picture books. One of the best ways to hook kids of any age on reading is to give them some nonfiction books. The great thing about nonfiction picture books is that they have something for everyone. These are books that invite exploring, so whether you read all of the text or just talk about the illustrations, you're in for an enjoyable, shared read.

poetrybooks.jpgPoetry. Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein write poetry that is meant to be read aloud. Their poems are very "graphic," allowing readers to "see" what they describe, and they often have a nonsensical quality that strike kids' funny bones.

Humor. Despite the dictionary description, defining "funny" is a matter of personal taste. Still, a good laugh is something we all enjoy. As a parent, you understand the types of humor your kids enjoy ... and you can decide what types of things you want to share together.

roscoe-riley.jpgBooks with lots of dialogue. "Dialog books" aren't a specific genre, but a lot of short chapter books use conversation among the characters to tell the story. There are usually only a few characters (often school-aged kids and an adult or two) so it is an opportunity for everyone to take a role and read together.

These are by no means the only genres. On her website, storyteller Mary Hamilton offers a handy checklist that describes reading interests for various ages, from preschool through high school.

Before we go, we'd love to hear what books you like sharing with your kids. What books would you bring to our party?

image credits

Mom reading with kids: Family Story Minute by Sean Dreilinger on Flicker. Copyright. Some rights reserved.

Collage of nonfiction picture books: University of Maryland News photostream on Flickr. Copyright. Some rights reserved University of Maryland Press Releases.

Bookshelf with poetry books. Thingamababy Awesome Wall photostream on Flickr. Copyright. All rights reserved.

Roscoe Riley by Katherine Applegate. Book cover image by Mr. Biggs photostream on Flickr. Copyright. All rights reserved.

Terry

The Bookworm Goes on Vacation

Posted by Terry on July 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM in RecommendationsSeriesYoung Adult Bookscreative literacy
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It is hard to believe that we are getting ready to slide head-first into August. For many of us, August is synonymous with a week (maybe two) away from home. It might be the beach, the mountains, Grandma's ... a place where the daily routine is different and your days are more relaxed.

Another symbol of vacation is "beach reading," those books you enjoy while you soak up the sun, lay in the hammock, rock on the porch ... you get the picture. If you're looking for alternatives to lugging books - and don't want the eReader to plop in the pond - then you might like these ideas.

Audiobooks ~ Listening to books is great for those of us who are easily bored in the backseat and/or get sick when we read in a moving vehicle.

Most libraries have robust audiobook collections, and some have tools in place for you to download them. You might start with Pam's recommendations from Thursday Thirteen Summer Chapter Books. More than half of them (see slideshow) are available on CD or as downloads.

Sync is an online community that is offering two FREE young adult books each week. They pair a classic from a summer reading list with a modern YA title. Next week, it's Suzanne Collins' wildly popular Hunger Games and Shirley Jackson's classic, The Lottery. Here is the complete Sync: YA Listening schedule.

Music ~ I tend to look at music as poetry set to a rhythm. With music, kids can learn about history, culture, instruments, social skills, vocabulary, just about anything. Albums with music for kids range from CDs with songs written just for them to traditional songs that introduce them to specific genres, and don't forget the music you like!

Periodicals ~ Magazines and comic books are plentiful, quickly read, and easily disposed of when you're finished. Whether you pick some up before you leave home, or you stop in the local drugstore along the way, it is easy to put together some fun reading. These may not be some of your usual choices, but they can feed your kids' passions and keep them reading on vacation.

Technology makes it possible to pack a lot of literacy in tiny little packages, like CDs and digital devices. Whether you are traveling by car, bus, train, plane, or even boat, we hope you find room in the suitcase to take some reading on vacation, too.

Got a recommended vacation read or music? We'd love to add them to the collection.

Note: The bookcovers in the slideshow link to Amazon.com. A Reading Tub affiliate code is embedded in the link. We may earn money for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (Cybils) from purchases made through those links.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Rainy Day Bookshelf

Posted by Terry on June 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM in RecommendationsSeriescreative literacy
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Books are great to share every day, but it is also nice to keep a few books in reserve for those times when you need to jump-start some interest in literacy activities and can't get to the library or bookstore. This is a stash of books - and it doesn't need to be many - that are the perfect response to "Mom, I'm bored!"

Joke books and riddles keep the kids talking to each other and laughing for hours. These books are essentially anthologies. They have lots of content, there is no required order of reading, they are (usually) good for mixed-age audiences, and everyone will find at least one thing that tickles their funny bone and/or stumps them.

Activity books are titles that engage the reader to use the book. Although workbooks fall into this category, I'd recommend keeping the fun in the books on your rainy day shelf. Coloring books and learn-to-draw books are always fun, as are books of word games (crossword puzzles, word hunts, and word scrambles). These types of books can often be found in a dollar store.

A kid-friendly craft or project book can offer hours of activity, too. A quick check at Amazon.com returned nearly 800 craft/project books for kids - 756 of them for kids ages 4 to 12! So if you want to find fun in a subject that interests them ... there is probably a book for that! Some need more unique supplies, so you may want to read carefully through the book to make sure you will have what you need on that rainy day.

Last but not least, books with blank pages (bound or spiral) are also good to have on hand. You may even think about adding a special set of crayons or pens to keep with it. Kids can turn the "empty book" into art or story portfolios, reporter's notebooks, lists of their favorite (or least favorite) things, journals ... anything their imagination dreams up.

Do you have any favorite books you like to save for rainy days?
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Note: Book cover images link to the Childrens and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (CYBILS) affiliate account with Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links can earn income for the Cybils, but there is no obligation to use those links or to purchase the product.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Summer Reading

Posted by Terry on June 2, 2010 at 10:30 AM in DatabasesLibrariesRecommendationsSeries
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ben-addy.jpgToward the end of April, the "summer reading" whispers started. But now it's June and school is out or almost over, so today I'm shifting gears and thinking about summer reading.

Reading is a lot like exercise. You need to do it regularly. When you take a vacation from your workouts, it takes some time to get back to where you were before. If I skip exercising for just ten days, I feel like I'm starting over when I get back. The same thing happens on a reading vacation. For kids, that can last three months! Ouch! To help prevent "injury," schools often send home a "reading list" so students can keep "fit" over the summer.

There are lots of opinions about the lists, particularly when the list hasn't changed since you were in school. Just know they are singular in their plea: please keep your child reading this summer. It can be tricky finding books that will keep them reading through the summer, especially with one of those stagnant, age-old lists! So what's a parent to do?

SMTD_2c_72.jpgFirst, introduce yourself to the librarians! Libraries across the country will be launching their summer reading programs over the next few weeks, and these programs are a great way to connect kids with books and keep them in tip-top reading shape. Another option is to seek out some books from ... lists of recommended books.

That's a reading list by another name, right? Yes and no. Yes, it is a list of books, but it isn't a standardized group of books. These are collections of books created by people who have road-tested the books and believe in their value. The recommended lists are often built around a theme. For example, Reading Rockets (and many other websites) have lists of books by theme or by award or recognition. At Reach Out and Read, you'll find books by developmental age. I love Reading Rocket's guide for how to find that 'just right' book. Hint: read page 2!

Thumbnail image for bookstack.pngYesterday, Susan Kusel took us behind the scenes of creating a book list. She not only shared how book lists are created, but also shows why librarians are the go-to resource for reading ideas. What I love about What's Next, a resource created by the wonderful librarians at the Arlington Public Library, is that it is part reading list, part idea box. I can find suggestions by book format (e.g., picture book), audience (infant through teen), and/or subject (apples to zoos and beyond) Here are two other all-inclusive resources I recommend.


  • For Share a Story-Shape a Future 2009, we put together a magazine called the Big List of Books. It includes every book recommended by parents, teachers, and librarians; and covers all ages and topics. Many of the resources in these lists include books across the full spectrum of readers, from infants to teens and beyond. For simplicity's sake they are listed just once.

Emergent Literacy - Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Children's Picture Book Data Base - Miami University (OH) maintains a database is filled with more than 5,000 picture books, complete with abstracts! It is designed for educators who are building their curriculum, but it is a very handy tool when you're a mom looking for books about tractors.

Toddlers Booklist - On this Montgomery County (MD) Public Library list you'll find books that the librarians likely have used at storytime ... with great success. There is a bookcover image and short description with each title listed.

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade
SteveLambert_Card_Catalog.pngInfo Soup - This is a multifaceted, cooperative website maintained by a group of Wisconsin Public Libraries. You can find books via the page of book lists, or you can start at the InfoSoup.org home page and search any or all collections by title, author, keyword, or topic.

Zuckerman's Barn Kids Lit - This site offers a searchable database of book reviews by students for students. The goal of the site is to "create a community of readers across classrooms and schools, including both students and supportive adults." Search books by title, author, subject, grade level, and more.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond
SteveLambert_Library_Book_Cart.pngLittle Willow's Booklists @ Bildungsroman - Little Willow's lists are my go-to recommendation when someone asks for a list. You'll find recommendations sorted by audience, themes, and topics, as well as her personal recommendations.

Best Books List @ Children's Literature Web Guide - The University of Calgary (Canada) maintains this site (link takes you to the Guide's topical list). What I love is that the topics go beyond the norm and focus on traits or interest for older kids, like books with artistic protagonists.

Many libraries create and maintain their own lists, too, so check out their sites. The Monroe County (IN) Library hosts a Children's Booklists on the Web page, where you can find a bunch of them in one place. Not all lists are created equal, and your librarian can point you toward some great ones or offer some "read alikes" that might work for the list you have.

purzen_Icon_with_question_mark.pngNow for the Million dollar question: Will my child will like the books on these lists? Odds are they won't like every book on any given list. They may not even like the first book from a list. Don't give up. If you get a couple pages in and the book isn't working, drop that one and find another one. If you've narrowed your options to things your child likes, it doesn't mean the entire list won't work, only that book. Just keep reading ... it's good exercise!

Image credit: Toddler and infant reading - Beach Book Trip by Kristi on Flickr.
Clipart - Open Clip Art Library: card catalog (Steve Lambert); library cart (Steve Lambert); pile of books (J Alves); question mark (Purzen)

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Books for Your World Explorer (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Board BooksBook Buying Early LiteracyPicture BooksRecommendationsSeries
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The great thing - and the frustrating thing - about infants, toddlers, and preschoolers is that they are into everything. They are discovering something new all the time, beginning to label the world around them, and even deciding what they like and don't like. [Dinosaurs - yes. Spinach - not so much!]

Last week we talked about bedtime stories for your home library. This week it's all about those waking hours! One suggestion: opt for the board book edition if there is one. This audience is notoriously tough on books!

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry. Susan Thomsen counts this and Freight Trains by Donald Crews among her son's favorites at this age. This is a timeless classic. With Car, kids can figure out what moves (and what doesn't), make the sounds of myriad transportation modes and animals, and feed that passion for things that move! Scarry did a great job of "hiding" other things in the illustrations that will keep young children glued to the page.

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty. When Pam narrowed down her gift choices for 3-year-old niece, Jeremy was on the list. From Pam: "This title is one of my favorites of 2009, though it seems to have slipped under the radar in the book world. I didn't think the amazing message contained within was too subtle, but maybe it did escape many readers who looked at the surface and saw a simple, light story. It's a shame, because people missed one of the better combinations of art, story, and message that I've ever seen."

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. I admit, that while I love Mo Willems, Knuffle Bunny isn't a personal fave. Still, as Gina points out in her Show and Tale last November, Mo and the Bunny have LOTS of adoring fans. Here's what Karen told Gina: "My daughter loves Knuffle Bunny in all its forms (including the sequel). She adores the combination of photography and cartoons and has been able to recite the story since before she could read." What more could you ask for?

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. When we knew we were going to adopt, this was one of my first book purchases. I loved this story as a child. Even through the pages you can engage your senses, from the chill of Peter's hands to the crunch, crunch, crunch of the snow.

Picture books are a natural choice when it comes to piquing and satisfying a young child's curiosity. There are so many wonderful choices - what books do you recommend for a play-time library?

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Building a Bedtime Library (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 19, 2010 at 10:05 AM in Book Buying Picture BooksRecommendationsSeries
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Last week, Susan Kusel offered a wonderful guide on budget-friendly way to build your child's library with library book sales. She even has some suggestions on when to shop (early) and what kinds of books to look for (hardcovers and series). If you haven't read it yet, check out Have I Got a Deal for You! You might also check out Pam's Thrifty Three ways to keep reading in tough economic times back in March.

I love Susan's post, bookmarked it, and even referenced it in a couple of places; but it left me with one question: If I'm starting a library for a child what titles should I try to find? Voila! A Bookworm Basics mini-series is born. Over the next few weeks, I'll have some recommendations with books for different ages.

Today we're talking bedtime stories. When I hear "read with your child," the first image that comes to mind is cuddling up close and sharing a picture book. These are the first books you're likely to own, and here are some of our favorites.

Night Lights by Susan Gal. Pam featured this in Thursday Three last November. Here is what Pam offered in a comment: "at my first look, Night Lights didn't grab me. But I realized that I was taking it too fast, and it's a book that needs you to slow down. It's there that I found its quiet value. I didn't even mention this, but I also like that it's about just a girl and her mom (and dog). Maybe it's a single mom or a dad in the military, but I liked seeing that represented."

The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear, illustrated by Jan Brett. With Jan Brett's beautiful illustrations of this story of an unlikely couple, what's not to love? The rhyme is a soothing counterpoint to the bright illustrations. As Susan Thomsen says this one is not about sleep, but it is a beloved book that she and her son have shared repeatedly at bedtime.

Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Debi Gliori. In her February 2010 Show and Tale, Gina shares colleague Tracy Wynne's story about how she came to love this book after her 5-year-old daughter started having bad dreams. "In my frantic search to ease her fears, I came across the most delightful book ... This wonderful read-aloud is sweet and reassuring. I love how it addresses the power of positive thinking; a skill that will serve children well, even at night."

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer. It is hard to beat Mem Fox for wonderful stories. Mother animals beg their young one to go to sleep, and each mom has a different way of imploring their child to settle in for bed. For years this was our go-to book at nap time and bedtime. It is a particularly soothing story that offers a quiet "hush" with every turn and always got our busy toddler to stop what she was doing and hop into bed.

It's hard to beat the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with snuggling together to share a book. Including reading as part of your go-to-bed ritual is a wonderful tradition, an easy way to share a love of reading, and a great way to close out each day for you and your child. Do you have a family favorite? We'd love to hear about it!

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.


Jen

Two Types of Series Books

Posted by Jen Robinson on September 7, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Series
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Inkheart.jpgContinuing my post on favorite series from last week, I've spent a bit of time thinking about two types of series books. The first type of series consists of multiple books that follow one primary story arc. Examples include the Inkheart series, the Percy Jackson books, and the Lord of the Rings series. While there are, of course, multiple plot streams within each of these series, the books are meant to be read together, to tell a single, epic, story. Clues are planted in one book that aren't explained until the end. There are sometimes major cliffhangers between books. When I wrote about series books last week, I limited my discussion to series with more than three titles, to keep the number of favorites under consideration manageable. But obviously, most trilogies fall within the spectrum of these single story arc series. In general, many fantasy titles fall within this single arc, multiple-book format.

Junie.jpgThe other type of series is more episodic. Susan alluded to this in her original post, when she talked about kids who need to read even the Magic Treehouse books in order (even though there's no strong continuing arc across the books). An episodic series (like the Captain Underpants, Junie B. Jones, and Encyclopedia Brown books, to name a few) might have dozens of titles. While the books generally all feature the same primary characters, each book has an independent storyline. This is commonly observed in mystery series (for kids and adults). The same characters solve each mystery, and the story is usually wrapped up within the course of each book.

Of course the difference between these two types of series is not always black and white. For example, in many episodic series (though by no means all) the characters experience personal growth and/or changes in their personal lives from book to book. This keeps the series from becoming flat, and adds an additional incentive for readers to pick up the next title. Still, there's nothing stopping a reader from picking up and reading a title from the middle of the series - the plot won't be confusing.

Also, just because a series ends after a few books doesn't mean that it was a single arc series. All of the books might be only loosely connected, and able to be read out of order. The end point of the series could be arbitrary. It's also not uncommon for something to start out as a standalone book, and then have one of more sequels added. By definition, such books weren't originally published to tell a single story. I don't think that we can expect them to hold up together as one, consistent story arc when they weren't planned that way (though the books may still be wonderful as individual books).

Still, despite some blurriness in this classification, I do think that this breakdown of single story arc vs. episodic is helpful in thinking about series books. The different formats serve different needs. Episodic series are a huge part of various markets, from early readers to adult mysteries. There's something satisfying about reading bite-sized books, at one's own leisure, and then having new books, with familiar characters, become available later. But there's nothing like a tightly-connected continuing series for generating excitement among readers. Harry Potter and Twilight together have created thousands upon thousands of avid readers, in part because of the suspense from book to book, the compelling need to know how the series will end.

I've always remembered something that Rick Riordan said about this. He wrote on his blog, on the eve of publication of Harry Potter 7: "The series is still wonderful and I will be sad to see Harry go. On the other hand, I hope Rowling sticks to her guns and ends the series at seven. Nothing should go on forever. Even the best series must have a solid, strong ending. Again, I know many would argue with this. There are readers who would happily buy Harry Potter #28 years from now, but I think seven is plenty."

It seems to me that Riordan is talking more about the single story arc series than about episodic series like the Magic Treehouse books. For new readers who want to read 50 books from the same series, I would argue that it's great to have those 50 books available. And for me as a reader of adult mystery series, I hope that my favorite authors will keep those new mysteries coming.

All Harry Potter books.jpgBut for series based on one primary story, like the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, I think there's real value in limiting the number of books. One of my favorite things about the last Harry Potter book was the way that Rowling hearkened all the way back to events from the first book. She made it clear that she had planned out the whole series in some detail. Stephenie Meyer did the same thing with the last Twilight book. This approach makes the reader feel cared for and respected, in a way that a more haphazard approach to ending a series can't.

What do you all think? Have you noticed this divide in series books? Do you favor one type or another? Or do you like different ones for different times? And do you have any suggestions for a better name for these single story-arc series that I'm talking about?

Jen

Favorite Series Titles: Jen

Posted by Jen Robinson on August 31, 2009 at 6:00 AM in RecommendationsSeries
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I enjoyed Susan's recent post about reading by number. Judging by the comments, lots of people have a strong preference for series books. Personally, I am compulsive about reading series books in order, because I hate having any surprises spoiled. When I read adult titles, I enjoy mystery series. Even though each book might wrap up an individual puzzle, I don't like the character development to be spoiled for me, so I'll rarely read those out of order. And of course for a series like the Harry Potter books, that follows a dramatic arc across all of the books, I think that it's critical to read in order. I tend to prefer the original order in which a series is published over any arbitrary changes to follow chronological order - I'm happy to take in the information in the order that the author intended.

Susan's post got me to thinking about my favorite series reads. For the sake of simplifying the discussion, I'm going to define a series as having more than three books (trilogies are a topic for another day). After mulling this over, I came up with a few simple rules for identifying a series as a favorite. I just ask myself, did I eagerly read through all of the books (either during a short time, if the series was finished when I came across it, or as the books became available, for series that were in progress)? Did I rush out to the store to get any new installments? Did I, if applicable, buy the books in hardcover, or go to the trouble to reserve them from the library? Do I ever re-read the books? If so, then this was (or is) a favorite series.

Trixie.jpgUsing this as a guideline, my favorite series as a child were:

  • The Five books by Enid Blyton
  • The Trixie Belden series by Julie Campbell/Kathryn Kenny
  • The Melendy Family books by Elizabeth Enright (see reviews of the first two books here and here
  • The Maida books by Inez Haynes Irwin
  • The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
  • The Anne of Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery
  • The Borrowers books by Mary Norton
  • The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

gregor.jpgOf more recently published series for children and young adults, I've enjoyed and eagerly read all of the books of:

  • The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins (reviews here, here, and here)
  • The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane (review here)
  • The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Tomorrow series by John Marsden (series review here)
  • The Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer (reviews here, here, here, here)
  • The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (see reviews here and here)
  • The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

I may not consider all of these books great literature, though many are. A few of the childhood favorites, in particular, haven't held up for me as an adult. But all of these books met my stated criteria above for favorite series at the time that I read them. I distinctly remember grabbing up multiple Trixie Belden books from the bookstore as a kid. I still have all of my copies of the Maida books. And I'm certain that 40 years from now, I'll still have all of my Harry Potters. Other series are on target for inclusion in future favorites lists, but don't yet have more than three books published (The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins comes to mind, for example). See also the books in my series books featuring adventurous girls post. I'm expecting great things from Theodosia Throckmorton.

In case any of you are interested, I've posted a list of some of my favorite adult mystery series on my personal blog. I can think of several other series (for both adults and children) for which I went through three or five or ten books, but have let the last few books sit, unread. I'm not listing those here.

But that made me wonder: what is it that keeps a series from losing my interest? Obviously, I have to care about the characters. No matter how good the plotting is, no matter how interesting the setting, I'm not going to follow characters that I don't care about through more than 2 or 3 books. And the books have to keep surprising me in some way. Humor helps, too, though it's not 100% necessary. But I think that what it really boils down to is that the author has to have captured a world that I want to visit. This world can be anything from an old-fashioned house in the country to a camp for half-blood Olympians. But if it feels authentic, and feels like a place where I want to spend time, and is populated with people I care about, then I'll come back. There's a whole other discussion to be had about series books that have a dramatic arc, and are planned to end after five or seven books, vs. ongoing series that have no particular end in site. That, too, is a topic for another day.

What about you all? What are your favorite series titles? What makes you come back to a particular series time and time again?

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