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May 16, 2018

Finding a Friend: 5 Series for Early and Intermediate Readers

By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    If your students are anything like mine, they find a series and cling to it. Something about the repetition structure is like a comforting friend for younger readers, while older readers enjoy growing with the characters throughout their adventures. When a reader connects with a series, each book they open is like finding an old friend waiting.

    As a teacher and a mom, it’s always a challenge for me to find the series that will fit the kid where they are as an individual and reader at that point in time. I know that if I hook them on the first book, I have set them up for a steady stream of reading. I also can buy a whole series and have many books kids flock to in my class library all at once.  

    Young stories with repetitive structure are great for young readers. After an adult reads a repetitive book, students are more likely to be able to repeat and retell the book to themselves, which supports making connections to words on the page. Stories that have similar structure help students predict what words to say next. And finally, familiar characters make books feel safe and comfortable. I always love when certain books become “cool” so I have to get more copies to support everyone reading them at once.

    Here are five sought-after series for young readers:

    Pete the Cat

    Nothing beats original Pete the Cat stories, and thanks to I Can Read! books, there is a ton more Pete to love. Kids love the songs and repetition helps students just learning to read. There’s a whole interactive website dedicated to Pete, who has a lot of the same simple joys that students do, from Rocking in My School Shoes to celebrating his Magic Sunglasses. Pete the Cat readers might also enjoy the Llama Llama series or the How Do Dinosaurs books. Be sure to check out the catchy Groovy Joe books by author Eric Litwin if your kids are singing all the Pete songs!

     

       

     

    Elephant & Piggie

    Elephant & Piggie are the kind of silly characters kids love. Following along with their antics provides great vocabulary building books for young readers. Predictable character traits and silly scenes interest young readers. Mo Willems is a cherished author and his other series, such as The Pigeon and sweet Knuffle Bunny will keep readers busy. And now there is a tidy little roundup of Elephant & Piggie books right here for you to peruse.

     

     

     

    Fly Guy

    Fly Guy was a great purchase for my classroom because boys and girls flocked to these books. The original Fly Guy stories are simple enough for emerging readers, while Fly Guy Presents kept better readers going with a familiar character. The short format and text bubbles make reading fun, and there’s something irresistible about books with shiny covers. The Fly Guy Presents books dive into a wide variety of nonfiction topics perfect for kids craving facts or to read alongside science lessons. For summer reading, nothing beats an article for parents including some fun activities, and the books are inexpensive enough to send home one or two with students. My Fly Guy readers graduated into Who Would Win books as their reading levels grew.

     

     

    Captain Underpants

    Captain Underpants are books I have to buy repeatedly, for home and school, because they are reread so often. The graphic novel format engages readers and the silly antics (come on — it has underwear in the title!) keep readers giggling. My most reluctant readers would dive into these, just to be “cool” in the classroom. A collection of lesson plans on Captain Underpants, interview with author Dav Pilkey, and cool website are ready to bring the books to life. Kids will love catching the Captain Underpants movie and learning to draw the man himself! “Happy and Engaged Writers: Graphic Novels and Underpants” is how our class used Captain Underpants as a jumping off point for writing. If your kids like Captain Underpants, try the Geronimo Stilton or Big Nate series!

     

     

     

    Magic Tree House

    Jack, Annie, and their traveling treehouse are the quintessential children’s series. An endless selection of books exists, traveling through time and space to learn about history and science with a couple of relatable siblings. For an added bonus, nonfiction companions to the Magic Tree House series feature all the background learned by Mary Pope Osborne while writing her books, and make this part of the series accessible to readers through middle school!

    I use the nonfiction companions as a jumping-off point when reading other books, such as Knights and Castles as a preview to The Whipping Boy. If you want to push your nonfiction readers towards chapter books, this is the series for you. Fun note: our class tweeted the author @MaryPopeOsborne and she tweeted back! Magic Tree House readers are likely I Survived fans when they outgrow the treehouse.

       

    Need more series suggestions? Check out “Playing Matchmaker With Super Series for Middle-Grade Readers” for stories that satisfy readers ready for a little more. Look for my next blog post on “What Comes Next: Series Stories for Growing Readers,” to gratify tweens caught between these reads and young adult novels.

     

    What younger grade series keep your kids reading?

    If your students are anything like mine, they find a series and cling to it. Something about the repetition structure is like a comforting friend for younger readers, while older readers enjoy growing with the characters throughout their adventures. When a reader connects with a series, each book they open is like finding an old friend waiting.

    As a teacher and a mom, it’s always a challenge for me to find the series that will fit the kid where they are as an individual and reader at that point in time. I know that if I hook them on the first book, I have set them up for a steady stream of reading. I also can buy a whole series and have many books kids flock to in my class library all at once.  

    Young stories with repetitive structure are great for young readers. After an adult reads a repetitive book, students are more likely to be able to repeat and retell the book to themselves, which supports making connections to words on the page. Stories that have similar structure help students predict what words to say next. And finally, familiar characters make books feel safe and comfortable. I always love when certain books become “cool” so I have to get more copies to support everyone reading them at once.

    Here are five sought-after series for young readers:

    Pete the Cat

    Nothing beats original Pete the Cat stories, and thanks to I Can Read! books, there is a ton more Pete to love. Kids love the songs and repetition helps students just learning to read. There’s a whole interactive website dedicated to Pete, who has a lot of the same simple joys that students do, from Rocking in My School Shoes to celebrating his Magic Sunglasses. Pete the Cat readers might also enjoy the Llama Llama series or the How Do Dinosaurs books. Be sure to check out the catchy Groovy Joe books by author Eric Litwin if your kids are singing all the Pete songs!

     

       

     

    Elephant & Piggie

    Elephant & Piggie are the kind of silly characters kids love. Following along with their antics provides great vocabulary building books for young readers. Predictable character traits and silly scenes interest young readers. Mo Willems is a cherished author and his other series, such as The Pigeon and sweet Knuffle Bunny will keep readers busy. And now there is a tidy little roundup of Elephant & Piggie books right here for you to peruse.

     

     

     

    Fly Guy

    Fly Guy was a great purchase for my classroom because boys and girls flocked to these books. The original Fly Guy stories are simple enough for emerging readers, while Fly Guy Presents kept better readers going with a familiar character. The short format and text bubbles make reading fun, and there’s something irresistible about books with shiny covers. The Fly Guy Presents books dive into a wide variety of nonfiction topics perfect for kids craving facts or to read alongside science lessons. For summer reading, nothing beats an article for parents including some fun activities, and the books are inexpensive enough to send home one or two with students. My Fly Guy readers graduated into Who Would Win books as their reading levels grew.

     

     

    Captain Underpants

    Captain Underpants are books I have to buy repeatedly, for home and school, because they are reread so often. The graphic novel format engages readers and the silly antics (come on — it has underwear in the title!) keep readers giggling. My most reluctant readers would dive into these, just to be “cool” in the classroom. A collection of lesson plans on Captain Underpants, interview with author Dav Pilkey, and cool website are ready to bring the books to life. Kids will love catching the Captain Underpants movie and learning to draw the man himself! “Happy and Engaged Writers: Graphic Novels and Underpants” is how our class used Captain Underpants as a jumping off point for writing. If your kids like Captain Underpants, try the Geronimo Stilton or Big Nate series!

     

     

     

    Magic Tree House

    Jack, Annie, and their traveling treehouse are the quintessential children’s series. An endless selection of books exists, traveling through time and space to learn about history and science with a couple of relatable siblings. For an added bonus, nonfiction companions to the Magic Tree House series feature all the background learned by Mary Pope Osborne while writing her books, and make this part of the series accessible to readers through middle school!

    I use the nonfiction companions as a jumping-off point when reading other books, such as Knights and Castles as a preview to The Whipping Boy. If you want to push your nonfiction readers towards chapter books, this is the series for you. Fun note: our class tweeted the author @MaryPopeOsborne and she tweeted back! Magic Tree House readers are likely I Survived fans when they outgrow the treehouse.

       

    Need more series suggestions? Check out “Playing Matchmaker With Super Series for Middle-Grade Readers” for stories that satisfy readers ready for a little more. Look for my next blog post on “What Comes Next: Series Stories for Growing Readers,” to gratify tweens caught between these reads and young adult novels.

     

    What younger grade series keep your kids reading?

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