On one hand, I think about how much books in series (and I am just using this term even for books in trilogies, etc.) support and encourage readers. I recall watching my kids breeze through Sweet Valley High books in the 80s when I was teaching middle school. I think of the former residents of the back bedroom doing the same for the Twilight and Harry Potter books. And my "naked reader" aka College Girl still rereads the Harry Potter books from book 1 to 7 at least once a year. At 23 she still finds more and more to appreciate with each rereading.
I think about my rereading of books from my childhood, books like Charlotte's Web, and how my response to these books changes and grows as time passes. I think about the repeated readings of books when I served on various selection committees. And I think about the things I might have missed had I read the book just once and then moved on. This time of year as the committees of ALSC and YALSA are deliberating, I think about this reading and rereading often. I know these books have been read carefully. I know that there have been incredibly deep discussions as well. I know the value of those rereading firsthand.
I know there is comfort in reading books in series as well. When a new Captain Underpants book debuts, I cannot wait to read it. While I am way older than the intended audience, I still love the antics, the word play, the subtle and not-so-subtle humor. Part of the comfort in the series reading is knowing what to expect in terms of characters, settings, themes, and resolutions. And I believe that we cannot discount this serial reading as it does sort of cement these elements for readers. I learned the tropes of mysteries from reading Nancy Drew and then later the adult writers who created mysteries for readers. I learned the tropes of romance from the Harlequin novels I devoured at one point in my reading life. And I learned the tropes of suspense, supernatural, scary writing from reading everything by King and others.
We know reading serially is one of the stages on the development of lifelong readers, and yet we sometimes want to push kids away from serial reading (which could include reading books in ONE genre or by ONE author as well). Variety in reading is good, of course, but allowing kids to elect to read serially is also essential.
So, I suspect BH and I will at some point, over the winter break, head to the movies to see the latest episode in the Star Wars saga. I suspect I will reread a book from my childhood as well. I write this blog from the place we return to a couple of times a year for vacations. We love returning to the same place, visiting our favorite locations (now adding Vroman's book store to that list) and discovering new finds as well. It is much the same with me when it comes to books and reading.