Summer reading conjures up images of kids relaxing while leisurely turning the pages of a book. There’s good reason for parents to encourage them to read, as research has shown that children who read four or more books over the summer do better on reading comprehension tests when they go back to school in the fall.
But what can you do if your child is reluctant to pick up a book?
The answer may be to put the first book in a series into their hands. A beloved series is likely to encourage kids to keep reading because they want to know what happens next to the characters in the story.
Sarah Mlynowski, author of the popular series Whatever After, remembers that feeling from her own childhood, when she would rush to buy the latest installment of her favorites, The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. She thought of the characters in those stories as friends she wanted to spend time with.
Teachers are on board with promoting series reading too, as those types of books encourage kids to gain a deeper understanding of characters and themes by tracing them across multiple titles, a skill that comes in handy in the classroom.
Plus, when you find a good fit with a series for your child, it may just lead to another. Even better, many great series for kids are widely available at libraries and bookstores, making it easy to encourage binge reading. Check out this list for ideas on where to start. Each series listed has a least four titles, except books for teens, which feature three or more titles.
Picture Books and Beginners– Ages 3 to 7
- Arthur Adventures by Marc Brown– An aardvark boy goes on adventures.
- Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant– A boy and his dog are best friends and do everything together.
- The Berenstain Bears by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain– Mama and Papa and two children face all kinds of family challenges.
- If You Give a Mouse by Laura Numeroff– One thing leads to another for animals highlighted in these books.
- Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin and James Dean– The grooviest cat around satisfies his curiosity.
Early Readers– Ages 6 to 8
- Who Am I by various authors– Illustrated biographies of important people from recent history and today.
- Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce– A brother and sister travel through time when they find magical books.
- Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows– Girls learn what it means to be good friends.
- Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey– Fourth graders turn their principal into a superhero.
- The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi– Siblings discover a magical world of fairies hidden in their house.
Middle Grade Readers– Ages 9 to 13
- Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski– A brother and sister visit classic fairy tales and change them slightly.
- Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale– Graphic novels about strange stories from U.S. history.
- Redwall by Brian Jacques– Peace-loving forest critters defend their way of life.
- Middle School by James Patterson– A funny look at the trials and tribulations of growing up.
- Bone by Jeff Smith– Cousins go on funny and action-packed adventures.
Young Adult Readers– Ages 14 +
- Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld– A fast-paced alternative-history story of World War I.
- Divergent by Veronica Roth– In a world of conformity, being different can be dangerous.
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor– Dark magic, war between angels and demons, and a love story.
- The Unknown Assassin by Allen Zadoff– A teen works undercover for the CIA.
- Stoker and Holmes novels by Colleen Gleeson– Bram Stoker’s sister and Sherlock Holmes’s niece solve mysteries in an alternative steampunk London.
Ages 3 to 7
- Sam by Barbro Lindgren
- Dr. Seuss books
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
- Eloise by Kay Thompson
- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Ages 6 to 9
- Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
- Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
- Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
- Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
- Amelia Bedelia by Herman Parish
Ages 9 to 13
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
- Warriors by Erin Hunter
- Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
- Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland
- Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Ages 14 +
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Legend by Marie Lu
- Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
- Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
- Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl