Magazine article Book

What's Next?

Magazine article Book

What's Next?

Article excerpt

Good series books for younger readers.

WHEN YOUNG READERS are immersed in a book, they enjoy it even more if they know a similar book is waiting for them when they finish. That is one reason series books are so popular with children in second, third and fourth grades. Parents often shudder at the idea of series, thinking of Goosebumps and other poorly written, seemingly endless series. Yet some series are popular and well-written, such as Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, which include the recently published Ramona's World. A lot of parents remember Ramona from their childhood but may wonder what other good series captivate children now.

Today's Ramona fans love the hilarious Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park. The series starts with Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, in which Junie B. reluctantly enters kindergarten. She comes to like it and in the fifteenth book, Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket, is shocked to hear school is ending "just when I was getting good at kindergarten." Her class celebrates with a trip to a farm, where Junie B. helps the farmer keep the other kids in order. "All right, people," she yells in classic Junie B. fashion, "Farmer Flores is going to show us around! And he doesn't have all day, folks!"

The Stories Julian Tells is the first in a particularly well-written series that, like the Ramona and Junie B. books, deals with everyday problems of children from relatively happy families. These short-chapter books by Ann Cameron have large print and frequent illustrations. Like Cleary's books, they have an episodic format suited to young readers in which each chapter stands alone rather than carries forward a single plot. In the newest entry, Gloria's Way, Julian's best friend, Gloria, deals with a talking parrot, an angry friend and an overly exuberant dog.

Series books offer advantages for newer readers that parents might overlook, says Professor Lucy Calkins of Columbia University Teachers College. "One value of series books is that when children first read chapter books, a series provides them with a lot of support. The reader continues to meet the same characters, usually in the same setting and in stories that follow similar patterns. The characters, setting and genre seem like old friends, so the child can concentrate on the new elements, such as plot and vocabulary."

Calkins recommends a series about Marvin Redpost, a likable boy appearing this year in his eighth book, Marvin Redpost: A Magic Crystal? …

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