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2019 Book Challenge for Kids: The Series Edition

Join us for a unique reading challenge

Ever struggle with how to get the young people in your life to read consistently?  You can’t go wrong with a series of books. I’d like for us to challenge ourselves and the kids in our lives to read through a series (or two) this year.

Unique Book Series to get you Started

Here are the 5 series’ of books that work with the kiddos in my life. I haven’t included the usual suspects like the Harry Potter series or the Anne of Green Gables series, because you probably don’t need my help to find or think of those. I’ve included some off-the-beaten-path choices and I’ve included ideas that would work for the younger ones in your life too. Reading a series of books to a toddler is a singular experience for the both of you. Trust me, you’ll love it. This challenge works best when you read the books along side (or read to) the kids you’re encouraging, so pick a genre, type of book, and series that you would want to read too.  Also, if you like the books, the kids will feel it and will want to talk to you about it. I’ve had the best conversations with my daughter about what she’s read in the Little House series.

A Book Series’ for the Win

A series of books to encourage kids to read?  Wouldn’t that be overwhelming? Why would several books with the same characters be more interesting than a whole new story every time?   I’m glad you asked.

For the young person just getting into books, you’re allowing them to discover the immense pleasure of starting a book, loving it, and just when they think it’s over and the melancholy sets in…Boom; the “Woah, I have another book in the series…it’s not over” feeling sets in.  It can’t be beat, trust me. For the younger ones, having a set of characters that have different adventures, large and small, allows them to see their ‘friends’ in different lights and doing different things. In my experience, it encourages them to have a sustained and continuous thought, and it fosters memory and retention.

Make the Reading Part of an Event

For the child or young adult that already knows what a joy reading a series can be because they whipped through Harry Potter, gear them toward a classic series that they may not have thought of.  Reading a series of books that is part of the fabric of our Western cultural heritage is always a good idea.  Again, Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery comes to mind, but also the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. You can accompany these two with the movie adaptations of each and promise them a movie marathon day once they’ve finished the series. 

Reading more than just novels

Make the books the beginning of an event, a moment you can share, something that connects you.  If you haven’t read the series yourself, start it with them. Libraries usually have copies of the classics, so you can borrow a copy for yourself and buy a copy for your kids. If budget allows, you can buy two copies of a classic series without forking over too much since they are published in many different versions and can be pretty inexpensive. Used book shops probably have copies of these too, as some are even part of the school curriculum.

Make it a Long-Lasting Experience

Make a date with your Kid for a sweet treat and a conversation about the book. I’m not into bribing, but I’m all for it when the promise of a treat gets them to the table for a chat about something other than school and if it can encourage some reading.

Make reading a longer series your own personal book club and keep tabs on each other by having a chat about the books every week.  What did you like?  Which parts had difficult vocabulary? What scene was the most interesting to read? What left you cold?  What parts did they enjoy or not? You get the picture.  I’ll be including a book club guideline sheet to this post in the near future so stay tuned and remember to sign up for email notifications from me, so you’ll be sure to get it when it’s up. If you’d be interested in working on a book club with one or more of the series’ of books I suggest below, let me know. I’m working on getting a virtual book club up and running.

My 5 Recommendations (and a Bonus or two)

Really, any book would make a child happy and teach them about the world, but there is something special about a series.  What is your favourite series? 

A Look at our Children’s Literature Bookshelf (and my Anne doll)

A Book Lover’s Recomendations

As a book-lover myself, here are my recommendations for the five best book sets to encourage sustained reading from the young people in your life. As a bonus, I think that books make the best gifts.  Here are some more unique series’ of books to read with and to your little loved ones (and some ideas about what you can give along side the books).   I’ve added links at the end of this post  for each selection.  I’ve chosen the version I like the best, but many of these recommendations  come in multiple versions.  Buy what you like best.

The Emily of New Moon Series, well-worn and loved

Emily of New Moon

1) The Emily of New Moon series by L. M. Montgomery.  There are three books in the series and the story follows a young orphan girl with a big imagination, but the similarity to Anne ends there.  I read this series before I read the Anne series and I love it.  It has a special place in my hear and Emily and I are kindred spirits, I’m sure.  Pair this on one up with a a nice journal and you’re set.  Emily ‘scribbles’ all the time and her story is a good way to encourage the kids in your life to write in a journal. https://www.amazon.ca/Emily-New-Moon-L-Montgomery/dp/1770497471/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544812389&sr=8-1&keywords=emily+of+new+moon

The Little Women series my daughter received at Christmas

Little Women Series

2) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  You could pair this series up with the movie version or a scarf.  Somehow the characters always seem to be by a fire in this one, so I’m tempted to accompany this reading experience with something to keep you warm while you read. For those of you in a colder climate, maybe you can challenge yourself to get through it together before the warm weather comes back around. https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/little-women-boxed-set/9780349011998-item.html?ikwid=little+women&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=1

Love this set! I’m going to enjoy sharing one of my childhood favourites with my kids.
*** Ignore the glare and awkward set-up in this picture…the books are still covered in cellophane since they haven’t received this book series yet. Also, for the same reason, I had to get this picture taken faster than fast before they walked in on me!!??

Calvin and Hobbes

3) The Calvin and Hobbes comic book series.  For the kids that love visuals and comic books. These characters were my favourite Saturday morning comic strip, when newspapers still came to your door and people read paper copies of things.  This little boy and his pet Tiger go on all sorts of adventures.  Loved by children and adults.  Bill Watterson first published this strip in 1985 and ended it 10 years later, much to my chagrin.  You can find the comics as a boxed set nowadays and it was on sale recently at amazon.  Worth the price, they are timeless and will delight the child in your life that is intimidated by novels and longer texts.  A tiger stuffy would make a great add on to this series.

Here is the box where we keep our Mr. Men and Little Miss books
(we got it at Costco a couple of years ago)

Mr. Men and Little Miss

4) The Little Mister, Little Miss series of books with gems like Mr.
Grumpy, Mr. Worry and Little Miss Sunshine. My younger and older kids love these books as do I. I get to pick out a story that speaks to them, to their personality, to their specific struggles. What’s wonderful about them is if you are trying to teach your children a second language they’ve been translated into many different languages. I’ve bought these books in French, English and Italian. More on where I do my non-English shopping later in the post. This series has really cute stationary products that you can purchase to go along with books. The erasers and lunch box items that I bought were really cute but have lasted over 4 years of regular use.
Here’s a link to the complete collection, but you can buy these books individually for a few dollars (around$4 at my local booksstore): https://www.amazon.ca/Men-Complete-Collection-Box-Set/dp/1405291230/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546292392&sr=1-5

A few of our Asterix books. They are in French.

Asterix, Smurfs, TinTin, and more

5) With my last recommendation, I think you can’t go wrong with a graphic novel series like Tin Tin, the Smurfs, Asterix or Lucky Luke.  I also like that you can choose from several stories in the series. My kids are into Roman history so they liked Asterix et les romains. There are so many to choose from, you can tailor your choices to exactly the type of setting, or story, that would most get your kids ‘hooked’ onto the series. Also, you can buy these in multiple languages which makes picking up vocabulary so much more fun than memorization. I’ve included a link for one of the books I have in my amazon cart, but there are so many, you can find these at most libraries too. https://www.amazon.ca/Men-Complete-Collection-Box-Set/dp/1405291230/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546292392&sr=1-5

Bonus Recommendations

As a bonus recommendation, here are two ways to get your kids into reading in another language.

6) Capitan Mutande or Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. We’ve chosen to teach our kids Italian in a formal way, but now that they’ve got the basics down, reading what they love in the language they’re trying to master is the best way to pick up vocabulary. Dav Pilkey is a big hit in our house, so I buy a mix of his books in French, English and Italian. Choose an author that is popular and that your kids love. Find it in another language online and use it as a tool to increase their desire to read in a second or third language.

7) For those of you that love the Italian language and would like to learn it alongside your kiddos, I’d recommend this series of books by Nicoletta Costa. They are tops in our house and the illustrations are engaging and bright. The stories are sweet, but deal with real-life feelings as the characters go on their adventures. I bought these at http://www.ibs.it and http://www.inmondadori.it which are Italian online bookstores with a vast and interesting selection.

Our favourite friends from Nicoletta Costa’s universe

Make it Fun

So, as we start off the new year, let’s resolve to not resolve too much, but let’try to spend some more time together talking about important things, enjoying each other’s company and slowing down. Books help me do that; let’s get our kids to slow down too. Join me for this Kids Series Challenge (even with the little ones in your life). I’m working through Giulio Coniglio with my little toddler and it’s been fun seeing what things throughout our day I can connect to our bedtime reading. Falling on the ice like our favourite character, eating some carrots and snuggling under a quilt. You get the idea. It’s been a joy and I’d like to expand that experience to include my older children. I’d like to include you too!

I’m challenging myself to connect to each of my children in a more individual way this year and these books are my way into their world. Let me know in the comments below what your favourite book series’ were when you were young? Will you join me on the challenge? Which recommendations worked for your kids? Which ones didn’t? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below.

Join me here as well:
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