Why We Love a Good Series

Eliza Clark
October 26, 2009

There is something enormously appealing about a good series. We all have our favorites. It might be James Bond or Tintin. Maybe it’s Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter or a gripping detective series. We can’t get enough, finish one volume as we reach for the next, and feel bereft when the series finally comes to an end. The anticipation of more good stuff to come only heightens the enjoyment of a great read or film or television show.

Children seem to grasp this principle from a remarkably early age, for even toddlers adore a great series. They squeal with delight upon recognizing their beloved Maisy or Elmer in yet another board book. And from there, the hunger for recognizable characters and familiar plot lines only seems to grow. So many of the great picture books come in the form of series: think of Curious George, Babar, Madeline and Eloise. These are the books that children often remember best, if only because each new volume is a reminder of the delights of the last.

Parents have a lot of reasons to love children’s book series too. They satisfy our kids’ craving for repetition and familiarity while nodding to grown-ups’ need for some form of variety as we sit down to read bedtime stories. We will go crazy if we have to read Olivia every single night – but if we can cycle through all the volumes of the series, we have a chance of emerging with sanity intact. And then there is simply the matter of predictable quality, something that can’t be undervalued. When a child is hooked on a wonderful series, you know exactly what to get him for his next birthday.

Not all series, however, are so delightful. Indeed, these days it seems that almost every successful book or toy or film spawns a series, with very mixed results. A series created purely for the sake of a series (and the extra sales it brings in) is, in Savvy’s humble opinion, not worthy of the name. And then there are the add-ons to and spin-offs of various series that don't quite live up to the originals.  Formulaic, repetitive, and convoluted plot lines abound in many of the so-called series put out by contemporary children’s publishing…so buyers beware! Our Being Savvy series on series will, of course, point you to the gems of children’s serial literature and steer clear of the rest.

Perhaps the greatest pleasure of a good series is looking forward to the next, reliably wonderful installment. In the same vein, we gladly anticipate exploring all our favorite series with you over the next two weeks. Look forward to silly series, series that teach lessons, series about adventurers, bears, spunky heroines and more!

From the Parents

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