Nick’s Picks: Series fiction

This post was originally published in Nick Glass’ monthly column for Curriculum Connections, an e-newsletter published by School Library Journal in partnership with TeachingBooks.net. Subscribe to this free newsletter here.

Children love series fiction. They enjoy the familiarity of the storylines, become comfortable with the formulas, and delight in the characters’ idiosyncrasies. Educators appreciate that these titles are accessible to all children—from the voracious readers who never put a book down to the English Language Learners who build on the successful completion of one volume to move confidently on to the next.

In this post, I invite you to introduce a multimedia dimension to your students’ series reading:

  • Watch a short movie on the creators of “The Spiderwick Chronicles”
  • Listen to Christopher Paolini discuss his motivation for writing Eragon, the first book in the “Inheritance Trilogy” series
  • Invite your students to listen to an excerpt from Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus
  • Hear Brian Jacques, author of the “Redwall” series, share stories about his moniker
  • Offer book clubs a discussion guide on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight

There are endless possibilities for integrating online materials into reading activities. At TeachingBooks.net, it’s easy to access resources on series titles. At the site, enter a full or partial series title in the “Search” box. Terms such as “Narnia,” “Harry Potter,” “Dear America,” “Betsy-Tacy,” “The Borrowers,” “Dark Materials,” and “Unfortunate Events” will reward visitors with author interviews, audio excerpts, book guides, and more.

Watch as Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black reveal how they came to write “The Spiderwick Chronicles” (S & S)

This five-minute movie is perfect for viewing in an elementary school library along with a “Spiderwick” display. The authors’ comments on the collaborative process will intrigue readers of the series.

Listen to Christopher Paolini discuss his motivation for writing Eragon

Paolini began writing Eragon (Knopf, 2003) at the age of fifteen. In this four-minute recording the author talks about the book’s inception and reads aloud a favorite passage.

Hear an audio excerpt from the first title in Barbara Park’s “Junie B. Jones” series

Audio books are a powerful curricular tool that can give students insight into character and let them experience firsthand the rhythm and pacing of a book. Struggling readers and English Language Learners will especially appreciate this three-minute recording of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Listening Library, 2002). The sassiness of the irrepressible Junie comes through loud and clear.

How is Brian Jacques’s name pronounced?

In this brief recording the beloved author of the “Redwall” series shares some favorite mis-pronunciations of his name, as well the correct version.

Enhance discussions of Twilight with this selection of online reading guides

Online book guides (also called novel units or reading-group guides) are useful aids to multilayered, meaningful classroom conversations.  Offer these discussion questions to guide conversations with students who are devouring this sensational bestseller (Little, Brown, 2005), or send the guides home for families that would like to discuss these books with their teens.

Posted by Nick Glass, Founder & Principal of TeachingBooks.net

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