What about Sweet Valley High or The Bobbsey Twins or Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys? And of course there’s Harry Potter or Twilight.
Do you credit any of those as the series that got you reading?
On Saturday a neighborhood friend of mine was telling me how her 15-year-old son is reading The Hunger Games, and I asked how he liked it as a boy reading a book with a girl narrator. She laughed and said, “Trevor’ll read anything. He’s even read Twilight.”
What a cool thing! I told her how I hope my boys grow up to be avid readers like that. After all, girls read boy books, so I’d love it if my boys read everything as well. Then she said, “Well, he wasn’t always that way. For a while we couldn’t find anything he would read. Then he read that Series of Unfortunate Events, and that got him hooked on reading.”
Isn’t that true? I remember learning in one of my literacy courses in college that series really are the thing that boost children from “able to read” to “love to read.” Why? Because once they find a book at their reading level that they love, then they can read three or ten or a hundred of the same book at the same level, which gives them 100% confidence in their reading skills PLUS the thirst for reading.
At some point, whether after 13 books like the Lemony Snicket series or a hundred like Babysitters’ Club or Hardy Boys, the kid gets to the end of that series but still has the “What next?” mentality. And suddenly an avid reader is born.
Publisher’s Weekly put out a fascinating report this week called “What Do Teens Want?” about teen reading habits. Some of it is expected, like the fact that 83% of teen readers are influenced by what their friends are reading; some of it isn’t as expected, like how little they actually use Twitter and how 58% of them don’t read author blogs.
But tying back in with this idea of hooked on series, take a look at some of the graphs in the PW article and notice where series rank in the scale of things. Fiction rules overall as what 86% of teens surveyed say they read, but series come in second at 76%! Also, when asked what influences their decisions on what book to buy, 74% say they look for the next book in a series.
I can understand that! I squealed like a tween when my friend/neighbor/mentor Shannon Hale brought home ARCs of Fire by Kristin Cashore and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins from BEA back in May. My squealing was the direct result of loving the first book in each saga so much that I could hardly wait to stay up all night reading these sequels (and yes, the fact that I got to read them early was dang cool, too).
There’s something about being able to continue with a story and characters you’ve fallen in love with, like reconnecting with lost friends. Maybe it’s a basic human desire. Of course we want to know what happens next!
What about you? Do you still love series? Which ones hooked you on reading as a kid? What sequels are you excitedly waiting for now?
For example, March can’t come fast enough for me. I’m dying to read the fourth book in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series because the first three blew me away. (By the way, a Greenwillow editor I met told me there will be six altogether!)