We are living in a golden age for children’s literature, with incredible authors such as S F Said (The Outlaw Varjak Paw, Phoenix) and Polly Ho-Yen (Boy in the Tower, Fly me home) producing future classics. But many children cling to the first series they enjoy, with no inclination to explore further. Should you worry about this?
The short (and hopefully reassuring!) answer is no. Look at the series as a stepping stone: they are developing good habits and positive associations with the process of reading. And they love their Mr Gum series or Jeremy Strong boxset because they are perfect for children. Fun, entertaining and well-written. Children don’t have the pre-conceptions about reading and literature that lots of adults have, they just read what they love. They won’t read them forever and will be ready to try something else at some point.
When they are ready to branch out, try to build on their newfound confidence by suggesting something along a similar theme but with a different author. For example, if they are addicted to animal books like the Magic Pony/ Kitten series, they might try Fang, the story of a pet tarantula by former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman. Older readers addicted to the spy series Artemis Fowl might transition to The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.
Try to interest them in good quality writers who can grow with them, as many authors write for children of different ages. An 8 year old might love The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman, Toad Away by Morris Gleitzman, or In Thunder’s Pocket by Joan Aiken and as they develop in maturity move on to their novels for older children.
Criticising the series they love runs the risk of putting them off reading. And as many families are all too aware, producing a book-loving child is no mean feat! (See 11 ways to encourage reading at home for tips on this.) For the time being, applaud their efforts and congratulate yourself on having one less worry.