Super Book Series and Sensational Sequels

Part of my Harry Potter book collection. Original box set purchased in England. Advanced reader’s copy of Prisoner of Azkaban (no cover art).

I have not done any official research on this or anything, but I am pretty sure Harry Potter kicked off a demand for books with sequels. I know it inspired a whole slew of fantasy-wizard-magic books. In my never ending quest to find the best young person’s book, I feel like the majority of my new reads often have “Book I” printed on the spine.  I also noticed my students tend to reach for books with a sequel more than ever. I actually had a student who read nothing but Hank the Cowdog books all year (there are 59 of them). I tried to encourage a little diversity in his reading, but he was determined to finish the series. I have to admit I was a little impressed that he stuck with it; a series like that can get pretty repetitive. My point is, books with a sequel seem to be more popular than ever.

Which series are the most satisfying to you? Which series didn’t work and should have ended after that great first book? Below are my picks.

Young Readers (1st grade to 4th grade)

  • Magic Treehouse by Osborne (on the verge of the repetitive thing but that can be a good thing for emerging readers)
  • Boxcar Children by Warner (up through book 19, author changes after that and falls victim to repetitiveness– see note above)
  • Henry Huggins by Cleary
  • Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing and Fudge by Blume
  • Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist by LaFevers
  • The Sherlock Files by Barrett

Older Readers (4th grade and up)

  • Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis
  • Ranger’s Apprentice by Flanagan
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Riordan
  • The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Kessler (have not read the newly released 4th book yet)
  • Mistmantle Chronicles by McAllister
  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Barry
  • Conspiracy 365 by Lord (must be read in order)
  • The White Mountains (Tripods) trilogy by Christopher
  • Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle
  • 43 Old Cemetery Road by Klise
  • The Magic Thief by Prineas
  • The Magickeepers by Kirov

Not exactly a series, but there are companions

  • Rosie and Crooked Little Heart by Lamott
  • Lemonade Wars and Lemonade Crime by Davies
  • The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger by Lowry
  • Hoot, Flush, Scat, and Chomp by Hiaasen

Sequels are in the works, and I am anxiously awaiting more

  • Museum of Thieves by Tanner
  • The False Prince by Nielsen
  • The Books of Elsewhere by West

Series that should have stopped after the first or second book (in my opinion)

  • Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart
  • Secret Series by Bosch
  • Series of Unfortunate Events by Snicket (Can these kids ever catch a break?)
  • Junie B. Jones by Park (Kindergarten was great; first grade was obnoxious.)
  • The Gideon Trilogy by Buckley-Archer (long and slow)

Read-Alikes

Have you ever read a book that was so good you hoped it would never end?  Students are always asking for book suggestions that are “just like” a great book they finished last night, last week, or last month.  Here are some popular book titles with alternate book names that might almost be as good as the original. (If you have a great read-alike, please add a comment!)

If you love Harry Potter, TRY:

  • Knightly Academy by Haberdasher
  • The Magic Thief series by Prineas
  • Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist by LaFevers
  • Books of Elsewhere series by West

If you love The Lightning Thief, TRY:

  • Magickeepers series by Kirov
  • Kane Chronicles by Riordan
  • The Grimm Legacy by Shulman

If you love Wrinkle in Time, TRY:

  • When You Reach Me by Stead
  • 13th Reality series by Dashner
  • The Magic Half by Barrows

If you love Little House on the Prairie, TRY:

  • Caddie Woodlawn by Brink
  • Understood Betsy by Fisher
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by MacLachlan
  • The Bread Winner by Whitmore

If you love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, TRY:

  • Candymakers by Mass
  • The Candy Shop War by Mull
  • Gollywhopper Games by Feldman
  • Floors by Carmen

If you love My Side of the Mountain, TRY:

  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by O’Dell
  • Hatchet by Paulsen
  • Far North by Hobbs

If you love From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, TRY:

  • Wonderstruck by Selznick
  • Red Blazer Girls by Beil
  • Sherlock Files series by Barrett

If you love The Hunger Games, TRY:

  • The Giver by Lowry (and all companion books)
  • The White Mountains trilogy by Christopher
  • Museum of Thieves by Tanner

If you love The Lord of the Rings, TRY:

  • The Ranger’s Apprentice series by Flanagan
  • The False Prince by Nielsen
  • The Thief by Turner