Read Aloud Thursday: In Defense of the Series

Ruth and I just finished Beverly Cleary’s Ramona’s World, the last in the Ramona Quimby series. She was filled with excitement at finishing the series, not because she was glad it was over, but I think because she saw it as a celebration. We’ve had such a fun time sharing these books. I should add that even though I say Ruth and I read these together I should really say that all the kids listened to these. It was technically Ruth’s “special book” but the boys liked it just as much as she did.

The boys and I just finished Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three and are starting the next in The Chronicles of Prydain series, The Black Cauldron. Somehow, I missed these as a kid but I’ve heard fantastic things about these fantasy novels and had them on my to be read list for years. We loved the story of Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his companions and are looking forward to the rest of the series.

In certain bookish and literary circles, the term “series” is almost a bad word. I’ve heard people bemoaning the fact that their kids will only read series books. The truth is that kids love series. And for good reason. A good series is comfortable, it’s like visiting the same friends over and over again. A really good series creates a new world for the reader and each new book in the series expands and defines that world a little more.

There is something to be said for reading books that are not part of a series and something to be said for reading books that are not comfortable. Kids need challenge, just like adults. And it’s true that not all series are created equal. However, both my boys really got pulled into reading through series (and not always all that high quality). And as a family, many of the most memorable read-alouds we’ve done have been part of a series. There is something wonderful about inhabiting another world all together for an extended period of time.

Great Series to Read-Aloud:

The Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley (We’re currently enjoying #4 as an audiobook in the car.)
The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker
Humphrey the Hamster books by Betty Birney
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Yes, they are long but one of my best memories with John is reading these together.)
Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace

I’m a little late to the party, but it’s not to late for you to stop by Hope is the Word for Read-Aloud Thursday. Be sure to share what you are reading aloud with your family!

6 thoughts on “Read Aloud Thursday: In Defense of the Series

  1. I love this post. 🙂

    I loved series fiction up until I was in my 20s, and then I think my attention span (or amount of time I could devote to reading) waned.

    You’ve a few series on your list we haven’t explored. We must remedy that!

  2. Narnia series; Little House in the Big Woods series; Harry Potter series;, Anne of Green Gables series. Frances the Badger series.

  3. *I* still read the Ramona Quimby books. I don’t know how Cleary did it, but reading Ramona is just like climbing up into the head of a child. These books helped me understand my own Ramona through younger years. May I recommend the Patrick Carman Land of Elyon books? I enjoyed them as much as my kids did.

    • Thanks for the recommendation…I’ll have to check them out. “Just like climbing into the head of a child” is exactly the right description for Ramona!

  4. I love this post, and my kids love series books too. Oh, and we recently read The Book of Three as well! We now have our next 10 or more books lined up, because we’re going to finish the Prydain series, and read the other Mysterious Benedict Society books, and re-read the Children of Ashton Place books we have before the new one comes out next month…

    • Thanks for commenting Isabel. I love it when we have a stretch of knowing what we want to read next. Of course, finding something completely new and unexpected is also good. 🙂

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