Earlier in the week, I read Donalyn Miller’s SLJ article on the popularity of series. One of the points that she made was that love of a series can help young readers connect with each other, creating classroom friendships. I had to laugh because I’ve been known to strike up a conversation with someone at the library or bookstore, even the doctor’s office, when I see them carrying a book I love.
I don’t remember making a friend because we had favorite books in common. But I do remember picking up a series because a friend recommended it. That got me into the Lord of the Rings; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; and the Pern series.
Of all of those, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books were by far my favorite. I wanted to revisit the world. I wanted to spend more time with favorite characters. But most of all it was the dragons and the fire lizards. I was smitten. I binged these books, borrowing from a friend’s family one after the other.
This desire to read one book after the other works for both young readers and the teachers and librarians who are trying to help them build a reading plan. To quote Miller: When readers lack a reading plan for future reading, a series provides an easy-to-follow plan that shortens the lag time between one book and the next.
I’ve never written an entire series on my own. At most, I’ve written two books in a nonfiction series. These books fall under a common theme (hybrid dogs, evolution, historic crimes) but each one is a different topic. For example, I wrote both The Evolution of Mammals and The Evolution of Reptiles. Someone else wrote about fish, birds, insects and amphibians. To create the unified series experience, they have the same number of chapters and common features like sidebars and specific graphics.
Like fiction series, nonfiction series help young readers find multiple books that interest them and thus develop a reading habit. Page by page. Book by book.