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15 Book Series that Can Turn Kids into Lifelong Readers

Kid readingFrom the day babies first clutch the rounded corners of a board book and fling it across the room, parents have an opportunity (ever-diminishing as it may be) to influence their children’s literary choices.

Book series are an especially potent way to engage kids in books. My 13-year-old son is a chronically reluctant reader, but he can always get his head around revisiting the Hardy Boys, or Stevie and Susan in John Feinstein’s Sports Beat Mystery series.

It’s not just the familiarity of the characters – when kids know they can handle the reading level and style of a series, they are more likely to dive back in. Even for kids for whom reading is not a challenge, the old favorites can be a comfortable and enriching respite before going on to something new.

With the help of Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and a few discerning kids, we've compiled picks for new and classic book series with characters and stories that might help guide your kids from baby book-chuckers to lifelong readers.

Picture book and board book series

No No yes yesNo No Yes Yes, by Leslie Petrocelli
With titles like No No, Yes Yes, Yummy, Yucky, Quiet, Loud and so on, Petrocelli’s scenarios seem endless - and hilarious. Readers quickly get attached to the androgynous little character, as the toddler learns life lessons with bold colored backgrounds, such as, “Apple pie, Yummy! Mud pie, Yucky!”
Publication date: 2003
Books in series: 10-plus’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems
Pre-literacy, picture driven story lines
Willems uses an unlikely, but simply drawn pigeon to declare some basic truths – like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” which kicked off the series in 2003. The colors are muted mauve, pink and teal – beautiful. The pigeon is a bit of a trickster – your kids will love to get involved in putting him on the right track.
Publication date: 2003
Titles in series: 10

Skippyjon JonesSkippyjon Jones, by Judy Schachner
Pre-literacy, picture driven story lines
The kitten with a hyper-active imagination and a bilingual vocabulary lives with his mom, at least when he’s not conjured up some far-off land. The stories are both more complex and mature than the Pigeon – and resonate most with slightly older kids.
Titles in series: 10-plus


Other picture-book and board-book series to check out: Olivia, by Ian Falconer; Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin; Ella the Elegant Elephant, by Seattle locals, Carmela and Steven D’Amico.

CLASSIC FAVORITE: George and Martha, by James Marshall

>>Next: Pre-chapter books or beginning readers

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