Growing Reader

Tween

Help Kids Power Up on Reading with These Super Series

by Stephanie Cohen

Photo credit: Lisa Sciascia/ Getty Images

Earlier this year, I grabbed a copy of one of the books in the Lunch Lady comic book series after watching a fantastic TED talk given by the author of the series Jarret Krosoczka. My daughter gobbled it up, in between hysterical bouts of laughter, in less than 30 minutes. She begged me to grab the rest of the books in the series on my next trip to the library. She read all nine books in a matter of a day or two.

This is “power reading” — and it’s fantastic for kids, alongside a healthy diet of more complex literature. As I try to raise four lifelong readers, I see fun, fast-paced reading as a useful way to let kids read through books quickly, without having to reflect and discuss and do all the things they have to do for school reading assignments. Power reading is all about the joy of getting hooked on a story and then burning through books at blazing speed. It’s a great way to pack in some extra pages and reignite your kid’s enthusiasm for reading. Comic book series and short books are perfect for this purpose. Book series are also ideal, since they give kids an opportunity to keep the reading momentum going.

Here is a list of some great series to help your reader churn through a nice big pile of books:

  • Lunch Lady Series

    by Jarret J. Krosoczka

    The Lunch Lady doesn’t just cook the food in this graphic novel series, she is also an agent of justice with some serious kitchen weaponry and moves. I always know when my kids are reading a book in the Lunch Lady series because they are either laughing out loud or have a huge grin plastered on their face. These are bright and zesty reads (you can find them by their yellow covers) that are perfect for a car ride.
    (Ages 8 – 12)

  • Who Was…? Series

    by various authors

    We own the entire Who Was…? series. My kids race to the mailbox every time a new installment in the series arrives, eager to call "dibs”. For the biography driven, these books can be read in an hour or two and contain tons of fun and odd facts you won’t see in your standard school textbook. And because the subjects of these books are tremendously varied — from the Founding Fathers to modern-day tech gurus like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — there is something for everyone. There are also two newer spin-off series, the What Was…? series for kids who like history and the Where is…? series for kids who are into geography.
    (Ages 8 – 12)

  • Princess Pulverizer Series

    by Nancy Krulik

    Princess Serena likes to go by another name: Princess Pulverizer. She’d also like to swap out that royal title for a knighthood. To prove she’s ready, she embarks on a Quest of Kindness with a couple of friends: Dribble the friendly dragon and Lucas, a skittish knight-in-training. Together, they rescue townspeople, defeat beasts, and save the day, again and again. Your children will love this series helmed by one plucky heroine.
    (Ages 6 – 8)

  • Here’s Hank Series

    by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

    Kids who love a little wackiness and humor in their reading will find plenty of it with Hank Zipzer, a second grader with an aptitude for hijinks and little else. Still, he always tries his best, like when his teacher creates a special part for him in the school play — a silent bookmark — and he somehow manages to save the whole production. A goofy and delightful series that encourages readers to embrace their quirks.
    (Ages 6 – 8)

  • Samantha Spinner Series

    by Russell Ginns, illustrated by Barbara Fisinger

    Another whirlwind, action-packed series, Samantha Spinner centers around sharp-eyed Samantha and her slightly annoying little brother, Nip, who received odd inheritances when their uncle Paul disappeared — namely, a rusty red umbrella with an innocuous (or coded?) message to “watch out for RAIN.” Samantha knows her uncle wouldn’t just leave, and her operation to find the truth leads to all sorts of trouble (and hilarity).
    (Ages 8 – 12)

  • Magic Tree House Series

    by Mary Pope Osborne

    Mary Pope Osborne’s beloved series has serious staying power, as Jack and Annie travel back in time in their Magic Tree House to infamous events and eras and meet some of history’s greatest icons. With 33 installments — and advanced and nonfiction additions, Merlin Missions and Fact Checkers — young readers will have ample power-reading material, rich with history and adventure.
    (Ages 6 – 9)

  • Ballpark Mysteries Series

    by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers

    An early chapter book series for fans of baseball, mysteries, and baseball-themed mysteries, these sporty whodunnits take readers to Major League baseball parks across America with cousins Kate and Mike. The clever duo tracks down culprits, outsmarts cheaters, and roots out sabotage — all while enjoying America’s greatest pastime. Written by a former Little League right fielder, each book wraps up with fun facts about the teams and their home fields.
    (Ages 6 – 9)

  • The Unicorn Rescue Society Series

    by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly

    Who wouldn’t want to join The Unicorn Rescue Society? Classmates Elliot Eisner and Uchenna Devereaux are inducted into the group of secret adventurers by Professor Fauna, the weirdest teacher ever. In each book, the friends go globetrotting to save a different mythical creature — a Jersey Devil, a missing dragon, Bigfoot, and a group of chupacabras — in this wild ride of a fantasy series woven with simple yet important messages.
    (Ages 7 – 10)

  • Alex Rider Series

    by Anthony Horowitz

    Another middle grade read from a bestselling author of grownup thrillers, this one’s a supercharged spy series with a teenage orphan who’s tapped by Britain’s M16 to investigate his uncle’s mysterious death. Courageous and determined, Alex goes on one pulse-pounding, near-death mission after another in an addictive series that will keep readers hooked from start to finish.
    (Ages 10+)

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2019.