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Series to Keep Kids (and Adults) Under Books' Spell

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What will youngsters read when Harry Potter is over — assuming they keep reading at all?

There's some debate about kids' reading habits, but if nothing else the popularity of the boy wizard suggests parents might want to explore other series. Shelves in book stores are loaded with them.

We ask two experts for recommendations — and explore the question of whether Potter's popularity has helped inspire kids to read more.

Dara LaPorte's Picks


Dara LaPorte, children's books manager at the Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., suggests these series; the first title in each collection is in parentheses.

Fantasy Series, Classic and Contemporary

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, ages 10-14 (The Book of Three)

Percy and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, ages 8-12 (The Lightning Thief)

Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda, ages 8-11 (Rowan of Rin)

Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz, ages 9-14 (Stormbreaker)

Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan, ages 10-14 (The Ruins of Gorlan)

Chet Gecko Mysteries by Bruce Hale, ages 7-10 (The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse)

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, ages 10-14 (Raising Cain)

Chapter-Book Series (for Younger Readers)

Aurora County by Deborah Wiles, ages 9-13 (Love, Ruby Lavender)

Casson Family by Hilary McKay, ages 9-14 (Saffy's Angel)

D.J. Schwenk by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, ages 13-16 (Dairy Queen)

And Some Kids Just Don't Want Magic

Winnie by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (Winnie Dancing on Her Own)

Jenny Archer by Ellen Conford (A Job for Jenny Archer)

Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant (In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen)

Akimbo by Alexander McCall Smith (Akimbo and the Lions)

Jenny the Cat by Esther Averill (Jenny and the Cat Club)

Secrets of Dripping Fang by Dan Greenburg (The Onts)

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo (Mercy Watson to the Rescue)

Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs by Sharon M. Draper (The Buried Bones Mystery)

Anita Silvey's Picks

Dark materials

Author and kid-lit expert Anita Silvey, whose own books include 500 Great Books for Teens and 100 Best Books for Children, recommends these titles:

Classics That Likely Influenced J.K. Rowling

Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones

Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L'Engle

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

Picture Books and Learning to Read Series

Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans

George and Martha series by James Marshall

Curious George series by H.A. Rey

Clifford the Big Red Dog series by Norman Bridwell

Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel

The Cat in the Hat and other beginner books by Dr. Seuss

Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park

Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

Chapter Books for Kids, Age 9-11

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Half Magic series by Edward Eager

The House With a Clock In Its Walls and other mysteries by John Bellairs

Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

The City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau

Series for 'Tweens, Age 11-14

The Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, the Circle of Magic, and The Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce

Redwall series by Brian Jacques

The Lost Years of Merlin by T. A. Barron

Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Airborn series by Kenneth Oppel

The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve

The Giver and other books by Lois Lowry

The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix



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