Today, I'm putting a different spin on the third installment of "Building The Well-Read Child's Library." Instead of giving you recommendations for a number of books, I'm going to talk about series books and the role a particular series played in my childhood and ask YOU for your recommendations.
Many of you may have grown up with Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, Anne of Green Gables, or even Beverley Cleary's Ramona Quimby. I myself grew up with Trixie Belden, and Candace Ransom's article about Trixie Belden in February's edition of The Edge of the Forest, a monthly online children's literature journal, has inspired me to write about my own childhood experience with this series.
When I was a young girl, I think around 7 or 8, a family friend, Leanne, who knew I loved to read, gave me a box of books she had read when she was a young girl. In the box were a number of books in the Trixie Belden series. Little did she know that a couple of decades later, I would still remember this and remember how such a small gesture impacted my life.
Trixie Belden is a freckled-faced tomboy who lives with her parents and three brothers on Crabapple Farm in New York. In the first book, The Secret of the Mansion, she meets her rich new neighbor, Honey, who soon becomes her best friend. Before you know it, they've embarked upon their first mystery when they notice something strange going on at the old, abandoned Frayne mansion. Who is the boy sleeping in the house? Who is he running from? What will happen to him?
After reading this first book, I was HOOKED on the series and immediately fished the second book out of my box. The boy in the first book was Jim Frayne who becomes a central character in subsequent books in the series. Wherever Trixie and Honey go, a mystery awaits them, and they soon form a gang, The Bob-Whites, with their close circle of friends, who solve all kinds of mysteries in the 39-book series.
Why did I love Trixie and her friends so much? I loved the adventures, the stories, the down-to-earth characters. I longed to have Di's violet eyes and admired Trixie's intelligence and integrity. Honey had what I didn't have and what her friends didn't have, yet she was generous and kind. I had a crush on Trixie's smart and handsome older brother, Brian. In short, I felt I KNEW these characters. I was drawn into their world, and I looked forward to reading the next book to see what they were up to next and to see how they progressed. I was so excited to learn through Candace Ransom's article that Random House has re-released the first 13 of the 39 books in the series. Now a new generation of children can get to know Trixie and her friends.
Good series books draw readers into the lives of the characters. We care about them. We get to know them. We want to know what happens next. We can't wait until the next book comes out. One book is not enough. We. must. have. more. Take the Harry Potter phenomenon. Kids and adults (I was one of them) stayed up until midnight so they could get their hands on the newest book in the series as soon as it came out. We were entranced by J.K. Rowling's words and stories. We wanted to know what would happen to Harry and Voldemort. Who would live? Who would die? Would Ron and Hermione fall in love? Would Harry ever find happiness? Would Hogwarts be destroyed?
That's the magic of series books and why I love them and think every kid should get the opportunity to get hooked on a series.
So now I'm appealing to you...I want to build a list of the best series out there. What did you enjoy as a child? Why? What does your own child love?