If you find yourself buying books because of the numbers on the spines, you've probably succumbed to the series book fever. It can be difficult to find reading suitable for younger readers, and when we discover the Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden, or the Hardy Boys it's hard to let go. And why not? A collection of 150 titles featuring the same characters and with no trace of inappropriate subject matter is pretty alluring.
The problem with a lot of series books, however, is that they aren't very well written. After the first five books or so, it's hard for any writer (or collective authors, as is most often the case) to avoid derivative storylines, recycled dialogue, or repetitive descriptions. They usually do manage to keep the content clean, however, and that's what makes a lot of series popular.
We're certainly not suggesting you should avoid books like the Nancy Drew mysteries or Dear America novels altogether. They are fun for kids, and all the series we carry are wholesome and generally free of the typical bratty kids and questionable morals of so much contemporary fiction. (The Mandie books do feature a rather disobedient heroine, but these would be the exception.) When you find a whole collection of books that you can be perfectly comfortable handing your kids, it's natural and right to take advantage of it.
We would caution that you don't let these kinds of titles form all (or even most) of your kids' reading material. The great classics aren't series books, and plenty of them are just as wholesome while maintaining a much higher quality of expression. If your kids already read plenty of great literature and just need a break, series books are a good place to look.
A word of clarification: there are plenty of excellent literary series available (for instance, The Chronicles of Narnia, Margaret Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children, C.S. Forester's Hornblower books, etc.) that we haven't included here; they're offered in our Literature Packages section. For our purposes, series books are any series including more than 8 titles, and open-ended. If the series is contained, it doesn't qualify; if each book has a number and the series is constantly growing (or grew until the author died or retired), it's a series book.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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