Growing Reader


School’s Out, Stories In:
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.

  • Amulet Series

    by Kazu Kibuishi

    A brother-sister duo, Emily and Navin, venture into a mysterious basement in their great grandfather’s old house in search of their mother in the first book in the Amulet series, The Stonekeeper. This graphic novel series is intriguing, thanks to the wonderful illustrations and suspenseful tale. There are magical lands, strange creatures, mysteries, enemies, young heroes, and an elf king — all the ingredients for a tumultuous and powerful story where the pictures and words bear equal storytelling weight. There are seven books in the series, but don’t be surprised if your kids power through all of them in a week.

  • The Royal Diaries Series

    by various authors

    The books in The Royal Diaries series center on incredible and fascinating real women who ruled nations and empires all over the world. Written in diary form, these historical fiction novels offer up reams of historical facts with a beautiful first-person narrative that gives readers a feeling of being right there. The women featured include Eleanor of Aquitaine, Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Anastasia, Jahanara, Kaiulani, and many more women worth knowing about.

  • 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.

  • Myth-O-Mania Series

    by Kate McMullen

    If your kids are like mine, they have read (and reread) all the Percy Jackson books and Kane Chronicles and still want to feast on more stories inspired by Greek mythology. You could toss them your college copy of The Odyssey, but the Myth-o-Mania series will give them many more laughs. The 10 books in this series are loads of fun with each book featuring a different god or goddess. Titles include: Good Shot, Cupid; Get to Work, Hercules; Have a Hot Time, Hades; Keep a Lid on it, Pandora; and Phone Home, Persephone.

  • Spiderwick Chronicles Series

    by Tony DiTerlizzi

    The tiny, slim volumes in the Spiderwick Chronicles series can practically fit in your pocket (or the seatback of your car, or in a lunch box, or swim bag), which makes sense since the first book is about kids who find a “field guide” for faeries in the attic of their great uncle’s house. The stories are a mix of fantastic illustrations and a fast-moving storyline that features fairies, goblins, sprites, trolls, and elves who visit (and pull pranks) on the Grace children. The drawings and mayhem give off an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland vibe, letting readers take a quick plunge into a unique story with visual aids.

  • Rainbow Magic Series

    by Daisy Meadows

    The Rainbow Magic books are pure addiction for young readers ready to push through an easy-breezy series. There are so many books in the series — over 100, including all the “special” editions — that fans can read these all summer long and never run out of new titles. Daisy Meadows is a pseudonym for a number of authors who keep churning out new books and collections in the series (Night Fairies, Sport Fairies, Ocean Fairies, Jewel Fairies). The books feature an endless supply of fairies with magic powers along with Jack Frost as an antagonist.

  • Jake Maddox’s Sports Stories

    by Jake Maddox

    For the young sports fans and athletes out there, Jake Maddox has an impressive series of quick-read chapter books perfect for a reader looking for short, sports-themes tales. The books cover just about every sport your kids might be interested in — Hockey Meltdown, Hoop Hustle, Striker Assist, Mr. Strike Out, Face Off, Speed Receiver — and run to 60 pages with a glossary and discussion questions at the end. With over 80 published books and clear writing, Maddox scores with these great books for young readers.