Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reader Recommendations: Series

I'm often asked about different books to get teenagers to read. I'm going to be doing a number of Reader Recommendations based on what I read and what my students read. I'm starting with series for one reason: there are multiples of each type of book! Once they finish one, there's a sequel to go on to next. It's perfect! You'd be amazed that some seriously reluctant readers will happily read many of these series books.

Harry Potter
I can't talk about a series for teenagers to read without bringing up Harry Potter. The books are written at a decent reading level (especially the early ones) and they have the bonus of being super huge books that kids can finish. Wait until you see the look on a kid's face the first time they finish Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, especially if that kid hated reading before. They end up being very proud of themselves!

Rick Riordan
Okay, so he's not the series. He's a series writer. If you have a kid who is really interested in mythology, his books are great to pick up. He has three different series based on mythology. The first, and most popular is the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. The first book, The Lightning Thief was made into a horribly inaccurate film. The Percy Jackson series and his newest series, The Heroes of Olympus, follow the children of Greek and Roman gods, called demigods, through quests. His third series is called The Kane Chronicles and deals with Egyptian mythology. The first book is titled The Red Pyramid and follows Carter and Sadie Kane as they try to rescue their father.

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
This is another series that your students may enjoy if they like mythology. The series follows twins Josh and Sophie as they are swept up into a world of magic and war. There are several cameos by important historical figures and mythological characters. The story is full of suspense as Josh and Sophie race against time to save the world.

The Hunger Games
So maybe magic and mythology isn't what your kids are into. What about reality television and gore? The Hunger Games and its sequels Catching Fire and Mockingjay are definitely for them. Katniss Everdeen is the main character. Set several decades in the future, America has been re-divided into twelve districts and one Capitol. The districts waged war against the Capitol several decades previously. Now, to pay for the sins of the past, each district must sacrifice one girl and one boy to The Hunger Games, a televised competition to the death. Starting at age 11, and lasting until they are 18, kids are drafted into the competition hoping to win riches and fame for their district and to return home in one piece. Only one kid wins each year, and they inevitably turn into drunks or drug addicts following their term in the games. Katniss is on her way to the games along with Peeta, a boy from her district. The set up is very similar to Rome with the games representing the Colosseum's gladiator tournaments. Given the subject, you must be prepared for the fact that anyone can die.

The Maze Runner
Do you have a student who really enjoyed Lost? Do you have a student who already finished The Hunger Games series and needs a new book? Try this series. Only two books are currently out of this trilogy; The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials. A large group of boys live inside a seemingly perfect world, except for one big problem. Their perfect world is in the middle of a giant maze that moves every night. The walls to the maze close each night to protect the boys from creatures called Grievers that prowl the maze. Once a month, every month, a new boy is delivered in The Box. Thomas is delivered and, like all of the boys, has absolutely no memory of his life before waking up in The Box. This start getting weird the following day when The Box comes back with a girl inside. This girl has a message and it's going to change everything for the boys.

Pretty Little Liars
Yes! It's a book series, too! If you're not into fantasy, science fiction or futuristic books, how about some normal teenagers? It's about a former clique of girls with a lot of secrets to hide. They used to share a friend named Alison. Alison disappeared three years ago, but now the girls are being threatened by someone who is calling themselves "A". What's the threat? To expose all of their deepest secrets. This series has eight books in it, sure to keep anyone reading!

These are just some of the series I know something about. There are tons of others that students love to read, including Vladimir Todd, Vampire Academy, Clique, The Mortal Instruments, Diary of a Teenage Girl and a series that I will touch on when I discuss Urban Fiction, The Bluford Series.

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