Earlier this week, one of the few days we were in school without snow and ice days, one of my students stopped to talk to me after class. This is not an odd occurrence because the students have lunch after this particular block so they’re not rushing to be on-time for a class – but I digress. The conversation began with my student recommending a book to me. Then the conversation took a turn. The young lady was upset and needed to share that she was upset. And as an aside, I love that books can be the bridge to start to build the teacher – student relationship since connections with teachers are so important to middle school students. At first I thought she was upset about a grade or an assignment or a peer. Nope. None of the above. She was upset because she had just finished the first two books of a series, and she now had to wait until July to find out what was going to happen next.
In the grand scheme of middle school life, this is a minor problem. A very minor problem. However, it is a problem. We started commiserating about having to wait for the next books in series. This particular student recommended Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater to me, so I began by saying how I couldn’t wait for the next book to come out. She agreed with me, and then shared that it was coming out in July (July 12, 2011 to be exact). Of course that realization made her a bit more upset. I mentioned the next book in the Gone series by Michael Grant will be out in June (and I was wrong; it will be out April 5, 2011). And last year when I finished reading Lies, I couldn’t believe I had to wait an entire year for the next book. She agreed with my feelings and lack of patience. Then I mentioned that City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare will be out in something like 65 days (not that I’m counting – also April 5, 2011). She mentioned the countdown on Clare’s website, and we bonded over The Mortal Instruments website. (Of all the books we’re waiting for, I think Clare’s novel comes out first.) During this conversation, we both realized we only had two more months to wait for one of the books on our list, which made both of us bit happier. I grabbed my lunch bag, and we both headed off to lunch as we chatted about books.
That evening when I got home, I was perusing my TBR pile, and I realized something startling. Of the next ten books I want to read at least five of them are part of a series. So what is it about series that makes us count the days until the next book is released?
I feel that there are a few things that make series so appealing to readers – teens or otherwise. First, there’s no worry about what to read next. My students and I don’t have to pour through the library shelves, staring aimlessly at book covers and wondering what’s good. There’s no fear of picking up a book and hating it. The series takes the question out of “What do I read next?”
Secondly, returning to a series is like returning to school after summer vacation. The reader gets to catch up with favorite characters and old nemesises, and the reader gets to experience new adventures with their favorite character. As a middle schooler, I couldn’t get enough of Anne of Green Gables. And while the first three books were easy to find, the rest of the books in the series caused my family and I to search far and wide to track down all the books. Of course this was before the internet and the mega-bookstore. As I read the Chronicles of Avonlea, it was as if I was catching up with an old friend.
Thirdly, books written as a series usually are full of action and suspense. Teens love action. They prefer books that are plot driven, and many books written as series are plot driven. I also want to give the authors credit. While it does cause those of us following a series angst, books within a series will end without all the loose ends tied up, which is why many of us were in the stores the day that Mockingjay or Harry Potter or Breaking Dawn was released.
And for those of you who have been following the blog, I did find a Schmidt’s Pick for February – The Maze Runner by James Dashner. And it is part of a series.
Until next time, see YA!