Can You Read These Out of Order?
By Hannah Atchison, Children’s Librarian
Summer is approaching. I know: How did that happen? That means…more time to read! When I was younger, summer was for re-reading a series in preparation for the next book or movie or catching up on a series on audio during vacation. However, it seemed like everyone else had the same idea. The next book in the series would almost always be checked out. And the one right after would be sitting on the shelf, taunting me. The parents of our younger patrons at the library are frequently asking me: Do you have to read this series in order? Usually my answer is yes. I want to have something to offer, so I did some research.
There are four criteria that book series typically follow if they make sense out of order. First, character storylines resolve by the end of the book. Second, the plot also reaches a summation. Third, each book contains a single storyline. And fourth, each book has its own protagonist. Mysteries, thrillers, and romances are the most likely to follow these rules. Since these are fairly broad terms, I made a list of both regular children’s chapter books and early children’s chapter books, our transition books between our beginning readers and the larger chapter books in the children’s collection. All the books on my list are in series which may be read out of order.
Here are some of the early chapter books I chose for my list:
The “A to Z Mysteries” by Ron Roy. Each book in this series has a title featuring a letter of the alphabet with corresponding alliteration. You can read them in alphabetical order, but you do not have to. In each book, Dink Duncan and his friends, Josh Pinto and Ruth Rose Hathaway, solve a new mystery.
The “Geronimo Stilton” series by Geronimo Stilton, concept of Elisabetta Dami. These books are mysteries about Geronimo Stilton, a mouse who runs a newspaper and works as a detective.
The “Notebook of Doom” series by Troy Cummings. Alexander Bopp moves to Stermont and finds a scary notebook of monster drawings. He begins to see monsters everywhere. Each book has a new monster.
The “Puppy Place” series by Ellen Miles. Charles and Lizzie Peterson’s family fosters puppies. Each book has a different puppy and lessons to learn.
The “Jake Maddox Sports Series” by Jack Maddox. The books in this series all have a main character who plays a sport. If you have a sports lover who likes to read, these books are a good place to start.
And these are some of my selections from our regular juvenile fiction:
The “Hank the Cowdog” series by John Erickson. These are hilarious adventures told from the perspective of Hank, a dog who thinks he is the head of ranch security where he lives.
The “Encyclopedia Brown” series by Donald J. Sobol. Leroy Brown, son of the Idaville police chief, solves mysteries. The solutions to each mystery are in the back of the book, so the reader can solve the cases, too.
The “Goosebumps” series by R. L. Stine. If you like scary stories, these are the books for you. Unless the title has the words ‘return of’ or ‘again’ you can read without fear of spoilers.
“The Chronicles of Chrestomanci” by Diana Wynne Jones. These are fantastical magical adventures set in parallel universes.
The “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques. The characters of these books are animals who have many exciting adventures. Though each book is set during a different time in their history, you can read the books in whatever order you please.
The “Royal Diaries” is a series written by multiple authors. Each book is a diary from a different famous princess in history.
The “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis. This series follows the lives of kids during infamous disasters in history.
The “You Choose” series was written by multiple authors. These books are interactive stories in which the reader gets to make the decisions and choose the outcome of the story. Each one takes place during an important moment in history.
Hopefully, these options will satisfy your young, insatiable readers this summer. If you need more assistance finding other series that can be read out of order or something else to satisfy your reader’s tastes, you know where to find me.