Why So Series-ous?

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Why So Series-ous?

Stories so long they need to be split up

Some stories are long. Real long. But often times, authors take pity on us and break the stories up in to chunks. And that's how a series is born. Here are some of my favorite series for kids.  The first book of the series is discussed along with other series like it.

The Giver
By Lois Lowry
The Giver is the first of a 4-part story set in the dystopian future. In this future, all people are given assigned roles when they turn 12. After being skipped over during the ceremony, the main character Jonas is informed that his assigned role in The Community is to be the Receiver of Memory; that is, the only person in The Community that actually knows the past. While being trained by the old Receiver, now called The Giver, Jonas learns of all that he and The Community are missing, from concepts as complicated as death to as simple as color. How will these new gifts change Jonas' view of The Community?

The Giver won the 1994 Newbery medal for its bleak portrayal of a future where being different is a bad thing. Since its publication, the dystopian narrative has taken center stage in much of writing for teens, with works such as Divergent, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner being prime examples. Other works that describe a break with conformity are Brave New World and 1984, both more geared toward adults, but which would nevertheless be appropriate reading for older children.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
By J.K. Rowling
Harry is different. There's no better way to describe him. Raised, neglectfully, by his aunt and uncle, Harry longs for a better life. Then it gets delivered to him in the mail. Literally. By a letter announcing that he has been accepted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. What follows is a grand adventure wherein Harry learns that not only is he part of a secret society of magic users, but almost everyone in that world knows who he is thanks to the event that simultaneously killed his parents and ended the reign of the most evil wizard in history.

The Harry Potter series is one of the most well-known children's series in modern times. It rivals The Chronicles of Narnia in the range of interested audience and has certainly been more popular (though for a much shorter time span). For those who have read Harry Potter and enjoyed it, the next series to read may be the epic, battle-rich Ranger's Apprentice series or the classic tales of mice versus rats found in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.

The Wishing Spell
By Chris Colfer
Alex and Conner are twins who have spent the last year mourning the death of their father. With their mother working all the time, only their grandmother remembers their 12th birthday, gifting them with a copy of the book The Land of Stories. A magic copy. That sucks them into the book. Adventure and hijinks follow as the pair attempt to escape back to their world - and they also discover some truths about themselves along the way.

Saving the kingdom is hard work and is usually really complicated. There are many series devoted to taking classic fairy tales and re-imagining them. Others have also been successful in saving the kingdom as noted in books like The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, so readers of The Wishing Spell may enjoy that after reading the rest of The Land of Stories. For a more advanced reader, The Stepsister Scheme and its sequels re-imagine classic fairy tales in very different ways.

The Bad Beginning
By Lemony Snicket
It should come as no surprise that A Series of Unfortunate Events has 13 books. Thirteen is, after all, considered an unlucky number. And the unfortunate events kick off with the deaths of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny's parents in The Bad Beginning. Being whisked away to live with a distant relative named Count Olaf, it's obvious to everyone except the majority of the adults in the story, that Olaf is trying to trick his way into getting the massive fortune that Violet is due to receive when she turns 18. There must be more to the story, but will they all survive long enough to find out?

Mysteries are less common in children's writing than you might think. Some other good mystery series can be found on our series shelves in the form of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Both are classic series, though a bit short. For something a bit longer, try Artemis Fowl or Harriet the Spy or even The Name of This Book is Secret.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
By C.S. Lewis
Magic is everywhere, as Lucy Pevensie quickly discovers when she walks into a wardrobe and ends up in a snowy forest. Here there are mythological and fantastic creatures like fauns who welcome her to Narnia. When she brings back her disbelieving siblings, a war begins that threatens to tear Narnia apart. Only with the help of the great lion Aslan can the children defeat the White Witch and bring peace and spring back to the land of Narnia.

The Chronicles of Narnia, of which this is the first part, are some of the most well known modern fairy tales. Written by Lewis originally for his niece Lucy, the works are classics that continue to inspire the imagination of children everywhere. Adults can also enjoy these books and may find some similarities in style and story to those of Lewis's colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien, best known for the Lord of the Rings series.