What’s up with all the long-running series for middle grade readers? For the purposes of this article, I’m talking specifically about books series that span more than fifteen books—in fact, some of them feel like they might never end! Kids love them, adults perhaps less so when our bookshelf threatens to collapse from the weight of yet another Magic Tree House book. But children love long-running book series in large part because these books offer familiarity and ease of choice.
When an author creates book after book with the same characters, young readers gain familiarity with that author’s characters. The people in the book are like friends, and kids look forward to hanging out with their book friends over and over again. More than that, readers begin to recognize an author’s style (even when multiple authors write a series, they usually strive for a similar tone and style.) Dark or silly, ominous or sweet: kids begin choosing which books suit their mood, knowing what to expect from which author. Just as an adult buying yet another Stephen King book knows not to expect a light romance, so do kids learn through repeated experience.
For many children, just choosing a new book is a dreaded chore. But when they love a series, there’s an easy answer to the question of what to read next. Sometimes, each book ends with a satisfying conclusion. In others, we are left wondering: what happens next? Either can work for kids. The ability to “collect them all” is just frosting on the series cake.
Some parents and teachers fear their child will never read anything else or feel these books are the literary equivalent of junk food. While reading a variety of books is important, experience with a long series can help build fluency and reading confidence. When kids are ready for something meatier, they naturally move on, especially if regularly exposed to interesting-sounding books with more complexity. In short, lengthy series are a great option, especially for readers who may not yet be hooked on reading.
Good Series for Young Readers
Series have long been popular, as fans of American Girl and Boxcar Children can attest. I myself grew up with Sweet Valley High (Anyone? Anyone?) And of course, Goosebumps is ever-popular, still on the bookshelves at our school library. But don’t only grab long-established series. There are tons of options!
Here are five crowd-pleasing series your 7-10 year old readers might love!
- Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne—There are currently 53 books in this historical fiction series that involves magically traveling through time to various places throughout history. Jack and Annie are in every book. Thin and fast-paced, these are great for newly independent readers, and teach history while they’re at it.
- Geronimo Stilton—This series is about a quiet mouse journalist in New Mouse City who keeps getting caught up in world-spanning adventures. Geronimo Stilton is listed as the actual author (like Lemony Snicket.) There are at least 62 books about Geronimo, plus special editions and spin-offs about his sister Thea, not to mention graphic novels.
- Dear Dumb Diary, by Jim Benton—This 18 book series is written from the perspective of a middle school girl named Jamie Kelly. With its first person point of view and older character, these are wonderful for slightly older elementary age kids who still prefer thinner books. They are also a good fit for those who like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
- BeastQuest, by Adam Blade—Weighing in with a whopping 86 books, plus more in special editions, BeastQuest books will keep your reader busy a long time even though each book is pretty short. These are written under the name of Adam Blade, but a variety of authors have penned these books. If your child likes excitement, adventure, and mythical beasts, this is a good choice. Book 1 features Ferno the Fire Dragon!
- Warriors by Erin Hunter—Warrior Cats is a hugely popular series about cat clans in the wild. Hunter has also written other series about dogs (Survivors) and bears (Seekers). There are 29 books in Warriors, with 6 super editions and guide books, in addition to manga versions. These are thicker than the other books in this list. The nice thing about the Warrior Cats books is that they are actually a set of series. There are six books in each series, in which a major problem is solved. These books offer a reasonable stopping place for those who don’t want to collect huge number of books.
Other series to check out include 39 Clues, My Sister the Vampire, Dragon Breath, I Survived, Judy Moody, The Puppy Place, Junie B Jones, and the Time Warp Trio.
What are your favorite long-running series for kids? Did you read any series as a child or teen?
Amy holds a Masters of Library Science along with a certification in school librarianship. She is a former reading and English teacher, mostly for 6th-8th graders. Her debut book, FAIRY KEEPER, is an upper-middle-grade fantasy from Curiosity Quills Press, and its sequel, MER-CHARMER, will be released next year. She currently lives in Germany with her family, though they still call Texas home. Her daughters are 9 and 11 years old. As you might imagine, middle grade books are a hot commodity around their house.
A perfect day for Amy is rain pattering against the windows, popcorn at her fingertips, and every member of her family curled up in one cozy room reading a good book. Tweet with her at @AmyBearce or find her on Instagram at @amybtravels.