At Parkville College, in Melbourne, series books are the top motivator for reluctant readers.
Why? Expositions, or the beginning of stories that establish characters, plot, and setting, can often be pretty boring. I once heard a teacher share that she skipped the first 100 pages of To Kill a Mockingbird with her students. I certainly don’t recommend skipping expositions, but it’s important to share with your students that beginnings of books can be difficult because you don’t yet know the characters. It’s like when you start dating someone… you’re not about to start finding preschools with them in the first couple of dates. You barely know them!
That’s why series books are so comforting for all readers, including reluctant readers. You don’t have to break up with your character at the end of the book. You also don’t have to confront the confusing (and for students who lack academic resiliency-dehabilitating) exposition.
So stack your library with series books.
For any teacher who has series books in their library, they can be the best- and worst- addition. They become a hinderance when parts of the series go missing. Series books are incredibly motivating. But who wants to start reading Hunger Games with the third book? That’s awful!
Here’s something I recommend to keep series books intact and organized.
When a student checks out a book in the series, take the rest of the series off the shelf, rubber band it with their name, and put them on your teacher shelf. Let them know that if they want to continue, you will trade #1 for #2, etcetera. If they don’t want to continue the series, the rest of the series returns to the shelf.
See if it works in your classroom!