There’s something special about buying a book series, about seeing all the matching spines lined up together on your bookshelf. Lots of kids are collectors, so collecting, let alone reading, the whole set of books can feel like a mighty achievement.
I’ve listed some of my favourite kids’ book series, for kids aged six to twelve. Later in the week, I’ll post my favourite stand-alone titles for kids. I hope this helps you with your Christmas shopping!
Some of my favourite bookshops – where the staff are knowledgeable and helpful – include Readings, Tim’s Bookshop and The Little Bookroom. I also buy books online from Booktopia, an Australian online store, as well as Readings. You can order in-stock books from Booktopia and Readings in time for a Christmas delivery by Friday 11 December. Of course, these bookshops will also have their own bestseller lists which can be a great starting point for your Christmas shopping.
If you’re not sure whether your child will like a particular series, you could buy the first one and include a bookshop voucher. That way, your child has the option to choose the remaining books in the series or choose another book if they weren’t interested in the series. You could also borrow the first book from the library, and then gauge how your child responds to it. (My lovely Mum did this for me with the Billabong books, when I was ten or eleven. I was so surprised when I received the entire set for my birthday, a month after I had read the first book from the library!) If you do buy the whole series, you have endless options for presenting them. You could set the whole series out on a bookshelf, you could wrap and number each book separately, hide them around the house for a literary treasure hunt, buy one for every special occasion throughout the year …
In no particular order, here’s a list of ten wonderful book series for kids:
- The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan – there are 12 books in this series – that’s reading gold for an obsessive reader! Here’s my review from a month ago. We gave them to Mr 11 for his 11th birthday, and he devoured them. Miss 9 is reading the second one now. Last week, she and Mr 6 dressed up as Rangers with cloaks and tied string around some sticks to make bows. I would suggest that they are more for boys than girls, but the second book brings in a couple of strong female characters so I think they would be fabulous for girls as well. I’m glad Miss 9 is reading widely about wonderful male characters. There is lots of action, so reluctant readers would be enticed. Obsessive readers would love the thrill of reading the whole series. Great for 9-12 year-olds.
- Truly Tan by Jen Storer – so far there are five books in this series. I spoke with Jen Storer at a bookshop a couple of weeks ago and she told us that there is another book coming out in May 2016. Tan is a detective type of girl, who writes in a diary and likes to write definitions. Great for 8-11 year-olds, maybe bookish seven-year-olds would love them, too.
- Impossible Quest by Kate Forsythe – there are five books – you can buy them separately or in a beautiful slipcase. Such a wonderful fantasy quest theme. Great for girls and boys as there are four child protagonists – two girls and two boys. Mr 11 and Miss 9 have read them – great for 9-12 year-olds. Kate Forsythe is an amazing story-teller – her adult and children’s books are all page-turners.
- Tom Gates by L. Pichon – these are similar to the Wimpy Kids books as they have cartoon illustrations with a graffiti bent. Mr 11 devoured these at age nine, and the illustrations really influenced his drawing style for a few years. Great for reluctant and obsessive readers alike. Probably more for boys than girls. There are ten books. Great for 8-11 year-olds.
- Princess Betony by Pamela Freeman – these books look beautiful. They have that special keepsake quality about them – gorgeous covers, ribbon bookmark, dust jacket, petite size. There are three books about Princess Betony, the daughter of a king and a dryad. Princess Betony, a pants-wearing sort of princess, has been accepted as part of the Wild Magic, and many adventures follow. The stories are lovely, and I suspect reluctant readers would be tempted to try hard to read these gorgeous-looking books while obsessive readers would appreciate the well-developed characters and interesting storylines. Great for girls aged 7-10. Younger girls may appreciate these books being read to them. While I would never discourage readers of any gender to avoid a particular book, I must admit, these books really are for girls.
- The Kingdom of Silk by Glenda Millard – this series is filled with the most beautiful family you could ever imagine. I wish I had read this as a kid – it would have filled me up with creativity and magic and gentleness. It is such a gentle and quiet series, with many beautiful life celebrations and sad moments. There is death and aging and weddings and finding love and making cakes and singing songs and painting and ignoring school rules and finding creative solutions and illnesses and friendships – the gamut of life. Miss 9 read nearly all of these books when she was eight. I might start reading them to Mr 6 over the holidays – he may/may not be quite ready for them. Each book is quite slim, so it would be a nice challenge for a reluctant reader to tackle. This would be a beautiful experience to read these books with your kids. Great for boys and girls, maybe leaning more towards girls because the books are so soft and gentle. Not that boys shouldn’t read soft and gentle books! Great for 7-10 year-olds.
- The Mapmaker Chronicles by A.L Tait – I’ve blogged about this fabulous series here when I interviewed the author. Enough said. Adventure, fast pace, page-turning. This series includes more boys, but there is a strong girl character. Great for boys and girls, leaning towards boys. Great for 9-12 year-olds.
- Sporty kids by Felice Arena – there are currently six books out in this new series. A bookseller recommended this to me for Mr 6, who sometimes thinks that he is too big to read picture books and wants to read chapter books to keep up with his older siblings. Each book can be read independently, so there is no particular order. Each book has four chapters, pictures and a large font. Mr 6 can almost read them by himself. This type of book is a winner – your child can enjoy you reading them to him, but will also be capable of reading them himself a little way down the track. There’s a great mix of genders across different types of sport. This series would work well for advanced 4-5 year-old readers and would equally work well for reluctant readers, aged 6-7. Great for girls and boys, great for 6-8 year-olds.
- Violet Mackerel by Anna Bradford – another gorgeous series with beautiful hardback covers. Violet is a thoughtful, creative girl who deals with her mother’s wedding, making friends at a hospital and many other small and large adventures. Heart-warming, gentle stories. There is also a Violet Mackerel craft book. Miss 9 and I have made a few things from it. This series is definitely for girls, especially lovely for crafty, creative girls, great for 7-10 year-olds.
- The Keepers by Lian Tanner – I haven’t read this trilogy but Mr 11 has and recommended it. He read it about two years ago. The back cover of the first book describes the series as ‘a thrilling tale of action and adventure’, and the website looks fabulous with lots of information and quizzes. Great for girls and boys, ages 9-12.
I hope this gives you a few ideas for Christmas! Let me know in the comments if you decide to buy any of these suggestions for Christmas or if you can recommend other children’s series. Next post will offer stand-alone book ideas, and then I’ll write a post for adult fiction suggestions. Happy shopping!