How Predictable Book Series Benefit Beginning Readers

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Mom, do you think the goblins stole the flag?” my daughter said one night as we read the (kazillionth) book in the Rainbow Magic Fairies series. (Or thereabouts.)

If you haven’t read these books, let me explain something quickly– the goblins ALWAYS, in every book, are the bad guys.

I tried to act surprised, “Hmm, I don’t know. What do you think? What clues made you think it might be the goblins?

Predictable book series like this one, as mind-numbing as they might be for us adults, benefit kids.

What do I mean by predictible book series?

Books in a series where every book is set up in a similar way with the same main characters and a predictable plot. These are NOT book series with connecting plots. (No cliffhangers in these books.) Sure, there are a few books, like The Magic Tree House books, that do build upon a larger story yet ultimately can be read in any order and still be understood.

There are many important benefits when kids, especially beginning readers, read these kinds of series books like the ones I’ll list below.

But before I list book titles, let’s look at how these books can give kids important boosts in reading skills…

Benefits of Reading Books in a Series

Understanding of Plot Structure

When young children reread (and reread and reread) familiar books like Brown, Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle many things are happening. One of those things is that kids know what to expect from the story. They’ve heard it so many times.

Reading predictable chapter books is akin to reading a familiar picture book like Brown Bear or for me, watching a favorite cop shows on television like Blue Bloods or NCIS.

Every show is set up the same. Viewers know there will be a mystery that will be solved by the same favorite characters who are in every episode.

In a predictable chapter book, we have familiar characters and a familiar plot with only the conflict and the setting changing. (Sort of like my cop shows.)

Once readers get familiar with the structure of the Magic Tree House books, they will be very accurately able to predict what might happen: that Jack and Annie will travel somewhere in the past to fix a problem.

Readers will understand that stories have characters, a problem and a solution, and so forth.

This gives children a foundational knowledge of literary elements — without having to even label what those elements are. They already know.

Improving Predictions

Reading more than one Magic Tree House book helps readers make and refine predictions of what will happen in the story.

These predictions are easier than reading a completely new book because now kids have background knowledge. They already know several of the main characters will always be the same and there will always be a problem for them to solve.

Will they predict what will happen?

Hopefully, using the clues and background knowledge, their predictions will most likely become more very accurate

Comprehension

Children comprehend, or understand what they read, when they have support. Comprehension strategies include predicting, questioning, creating images, and seeking clarification.

Reading books with the same characters and plot structure gives readers support because it sets readers up for comprehension success.

Each new book already fits into their background knowledge about the series. This helps tremendously with comprehension.

Fluency

The predictability of the plot sequence leads to improved reading fluency.

Fluency is when kids are reading “quickly, accurately, and with proper expression” according to the National Reading Panel. Regie Routman adds to this definition that fluency must be paired with comprehension otherwise it’s just calling words.

In Reading Essentials, she adds, “The best way to improve fluency is through repeated reading of familiar texts.” I agree and add predictable book series to her suggestion.

Confidence

What child doesn’t want to feel like a good reader? Maybe even a great reader?

I love watching this happen with children who devour a book series. Their confidence grows and grows.

Because of the aforementioned reasons, they’re understanding, predicting, and gaining fluency in reading these books.

Talk about growing in your feeling of competence!

Predictable (Beginning) Book Series to Consider

These books are examples of engaging, kid-favorite predictable beginning chapter book series.

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale

 The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

Rainbow Magic Fairies by Daisy Meadows

A to Z Mysteries by Rob Roy

Ranger in Time by Kate Messner

Amelia Bedelia (Young Amelia) by Herman Parish

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol

I Survived by Lauren Tarshis

Stink by Megan McDonald

Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski 

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

More Book Series Ideas:

Wholesome Beginning Chapter Books for Girls

Wholesome Beginning Chapter Books for Boys

Chapter Books Series for 1st Graders

Chapter Books Series for 2nd Graders

Chapter Books Series for 3rd Graders

If you’re like me and occasionally feel tired of reading a predictable series, try not to worry.  Soon enough, your child will move on to a different series as he or she grows as a reader.

How Predictable Book Series Benefit Beginning Readers

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How Reading Easy Books Can Help Kids

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this, my oldest has very high comprehension (like his standardized test we just have to take for his 3rd grade portfolio put him above 9th grade high comprehension) but my 6 yo doesn’t have anywhere bear that level and while I am willing to read whatever he asks for, it’s been a challenge trying to introduce stories that we can both enjoy. It’s a little easier to take the dull stories if I know they serve a purpose!

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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