Think back over your own reading life and you will probably remember a time when you were an avid series book reader. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Ramona Quimby, Shiloh, Poppy, Henry and Mudge -the list of engaging series books and characters goes on and on. Year after year, children get hooked into reading—and into reading a lot—by reading series books. The reading unit we are about to begin will take advantage of that natural draw and support childrens’ reading with volume, at the same time that it pushes them to deeper comprehension, particularly around characters, continuing the work we did earlier this year. They will be reading series books in partnerships for the next few weeks.
At this point in the year, many students in third grade are at a turning point in their reading lives: they are often moving into texts that are increasingly complex texts with characters who are more complicated and offer more occasions for nuanced thinking and response. Because series books tend to use characters to hook kids, this is a perfect opportunity to up the ante of character work, knowing that this higher-level thinking is both available and necessary in harder books, and trusting that kids will have ample opportunity to practice this work as they read across a series.
As your children come to know a series, they fall in love with the characters and they are eager to read the next book because they won’t want to part with their newfound friends. Series books repeat characters and settings, and their plot lines are often formulaic. Readers will eventually pick up the pattern of how a book within a single series “tends to go.” So, although your children will be learning how to move across a series, they will also be learning about the predictable structure and volume of that series which will help to move them into more sophisticated reading habits.
You will find that, as your kids are learning to think deeply about the characters in their series books, they are also developing a sense of an author’s style. This unit would be a natural place to plant the seed in kids’ minds that, as readers, we can be thinking like writers and noticing how the author of our series tends to build tension, make us care for the characters, or wrap things up at the end of a book.
To support your child in this work at home it is important to make sure that they read each night. Because they will be reading with a partner, they will need to stick to the reading schedule they and their partner decide on or it will be difficult to have a meaningful conversation about their book. While you are talking with your child about their books at home, here are some prompts to refer to:
•“I think ______ is ______, because _____”.
•“I think______ is ______ because in this part, he/she ______”.
•“Then later, in this part he/she ______”.
•“This evidence (from the above statements) shows that ______ is ______ because ______”.
•Perhaps it’s because . . .
•Or maybe it’s . . .
•Another thing it could be . . .
•This connects to earlier when . . .
•That reminds me of . . .
•A stronger word to describe that is . . .
•This seems significant because . . .
Thanks for your support,