Find a new children’s book series
Summer is the perfect time to dive into a book series. Car rides for vacations and long days lend themselves to reading well past bedtime — and who can complain about extra reading time? Fabulous stand-alone books are always fun, but there’s something about the long days of summer that makes trying a new series exciting. Kids feel like they’re meeting new friends, and they can power through the books at any pace they want. Try one of these five children’s book series with your kids, whether you read chapters together or your kids read them independently.
For kids who love history — and excitement
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko is the first book in the Tales from Alcatraz series (Barnes & Noble, $8). Alcatraz might be a prison for the criminals sentenced to the notorious island penitentiary, but for Moose Flanagan, it’s home. Twelve-year old Moose is part of the Alcatraz community made up of prison workers and their families, including his sixteen-year old sister with special needs and the spoiled but thrill-seeking Piper, the daughter of the prison warden. Piper dreams up the idea of marketing Al Capone’s laundering services to her middle school classmates — and drags Moose along for the ride. Al Capone Does My Shirts hits the right note in combining page-turning excitement with the still-pertinent-today issue of fighting for the rights of kids with autism.
Go beyond fairy tales with a dose of modern excitement
The magical world of fairy tales doesn’t have to be left in childhood with The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer. Readers — or their parents — might recognize Colfer from his role as Kurt on Glee, but kids will fall in love with the series that starts with The Wishing Spell (Barnes & Noble, $8). Twins Connor and Alex tumble into their grandmother’s book of fairy tales, and they need to find their way home. On their journey, they come across beloved fairy tale characters, which turns out to be just as complicated as you might imagine.
A series for kids who sometimes feel they don’t “fit”
The tween years can leave kids feeling like they’re never quite in the right place. Relationships with parents and friends shift, and social groups that always felt familiar go through changes. Shannon Messenger addresses these issues in a dramatic fashion with The Keeper of the Lost Cities, the first book in The Keeper of the Lost Cities series (Barnes & Noble, $8). Sophie feels out of place. Between skipping grades and hiding a secret — she’s a Telepath — she never quite finds her footing in school until she meets Fitz, another Telepath. She soon learns her real identity isn’t the one she’s been living, but her newfound identity might lead to more danger than she could have ever imagined.
A twentieth-century fairy trilogy
Set against the backdrop of the midwestern Dust Bowl in 1935, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel begins the tale of Callie LeRoux. Callie’s preoccupied with the dust storms swirling around her when her own legacy threatens to choke her. Her mother’s been keeping a secret for a long time; fairy blood runs through Callie’s veins. Now that her fairy relatives have found out where Callie’s living, her life will never be the same. Jazz music and the beauty of the fairy realm collide in the first book of Zettel’s trilogy, where the only person Callie can trust might be a bootlegger who should be in jail.
When kids are just beginning to read chapter books on their own, sometimes reading falls back into parents’ laps. Reading a book series with young readers can be nostalgic, especially if the magic of the series holds true even after being passed down between generations. Try The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner this summer (Barnes & Noble, $6). Four young orphans make a life for themselves living in an abandoned boxcar, an appealing premise during the warm nights of summer when campouts and cookouts make living outside seem plausible.
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