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This photo released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Dylan O'Brien as Thomas in the film, "The Maze Runner." The movie releases in the U.S. on Sept. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox, Ben Rothstein)
From Nancy Drew to Harry Potter, young readers love a good series
Children’s lit » History, mystery, dystopian tales for teens — here are a few series that will appeal to many interests.
First Published Aug 02 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Aug 04 2014 11:16 am

From the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to The Magic Tree House and Harry Potter, series have always been popular with young readers.

Fourteen-year-old Eve Larkin offers this insight into their enduring appeal: "I love to read series because I get to see how the characters progress, and I get to grow with them. It’s also interesting to observe how an author continues a story. It’s a gamble, because it can either be a success or take away from the predecessor."

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Some of Larkin’s favorite series include the Bayern books by Shannon Hale, The Keeper of the Lost Cities novels by Shannon Messenger and the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

Margaret Neville, children’s book buyer for The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, observes that "young readers like the comfort of a series, the predictability." She notes teachers and parents alike appreciate the opportunity a good series offers a child to improve reading skills.

Kathy Barnson, a first-grade teacher at Highland Park, agrees. "I love series," she says. "Series books have the same characters — even the same story — so that reading each new book is almost like re-reading. And when that happens, kids read and read and read." This kind of engagement naturally increases a child’s confidence in his or her ability. Barnson also notes that when a young reader embraces a series, parents and teachers no longer have to act as the reading police, which makes for happier children and adults.

There are, of course, those series that most people are familiar with — Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The following is a list of additional series that young readers will enjoy.

The Piggie and Elephant series by Mo Willems are funny friendship stories told in comic book form. Ages 4-8.

The I Survived series by Laura Tarshis gives fictionalized eyewitness accounts of historic and recent disasters, from Pompeii to Gettysburg to the Titanic to Katrina. Ages 7-10.

The Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker features a buoyant redheaded heroine who often finds herself in trouble in spite of her good intentions. Ages 7-10.

The Just in Time series by Carol Lynch Williams and Cheri Pray Earl follows the adventures of George and Gracie as they hopscotch their way through time and from state to state. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Delaware have been featured so far. Ages 8-12.


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The Castle Glower series by Jessica Day George tells the story of Celie, who lives with her family in a castle that spontaneously generates new rooms. Great fun! Ages 8-12.

The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins (author of "The Hunger Games") features the adventures of Gregor, who discovers a dark subterranean world populated by strange creatures beneath the city where he lives. Epic fantasy. Ages 8-12.

The Septimus Heap series by Angie Heaps follows the adventures of (another) boy wizard and his friends. Reminiscent of Harry Potter, but with a voice and humor of its own. Ages 10 and up.

The Five Ancestors series by Jeff Stone relates the stories of five young Chinese warriors who take upon themselves the names of various animals: Tiger, Monkey, Snake, Crane and Dragon. Bad guys and kung fu involved. Ages 8-12.

The Emerald Atlas series by John Stephens spotlights four orphans who discover an old book that allows them to travel back in time. Charming fantasy reminiscent of the Narnia books. Ages 8-12.

The Ascendance trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen follows the adventures of Sage, an orphan boy who has been recruited to impersonate a king’s long-lost son. Ages 10 and up.

The Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen introduces readers to Sammy Keyes, who’s one tough-minded girl detective. Ages 10 and up.

The Rangers Apprentice series by John Flanagan features another orphan (lots of orphans in kids’ books!) named Will whose ongoing quest it is to protect the kingdom of Araluen. Ages 10 and up.

The Spirit Animals series by Brandon Mull (and others) stars four children who are chosen in a coming-of-age ritual to have the companionship of an animal whose powers are bestowed upon them. Ages 8-12.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale is a series of graphic novels that relate the story of key episodes in American history. Hugely entertaining. Ages 9 and up.

The Blackwell Pages series by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr follows the adventures of young residents of Blackwell, S.D. — many of whom just happen to be descended from Norse gods. Ages 10 and up.

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