It took me a very long time to learn to read as a kid and it took me even longer to become a good reader. I remember how painfully slow reading was for me even in middle school. Books took me forever to finish so I tended to get bored and set them down.
It wasn’t until I discovered Fantasy (and to a lesser extent, Science Fiction) that I began to feel reading was worth the time and effort. Finally, I’d found stories that meant much more to me than all those unfinished The Babysitter’s Club novels on my bookshelf.
Today, I picked out five of the series that turned me into an avid reader as a child/pre-teen. I wouldn’t be a book/nerd blogger today if it wasn’t for the books on this list.
Five Fantastical Children’s Series that Made Me a Reader
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis ~ The first time I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, it was like stumbling into a whole new world. Before it, I’d only ever read the American Girl series and a handful of Magic in the Attic books. I desperately wanted to read, but these books had all failed to get under my skin. Something about magical worlds, talking animals, and wicked queens stuck with me though. I didn’t love C.S. Lewis’ books even the first time I read them (I still don’t care for his writing), but they were definitely the catalyst I needed. Of course, after the first two of his books, I was ready to be introduced to other series in which girls did fight and I didn’t have to deal with annoying allegory.
2. The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander ~ These were the books that whisked me away from Narnia, and I immediately fell in love with my first introduction to the “Poor farmboy saves world” trope. What especially drew me to Prydain, however, was Eilonwy. She was the feisty female character that all of us girls deserved. She was smart, bossy, and probably should have been the lead of the entire series (she reminds me a bit of Hermione, now that I think of it). Unlike Susan and Lucy, she was a girl I could see myself in and I loved that.3. The Time Quartet by Madeleine L’Engle ~ I first read A Wrinkle in Time as part of Zany Brainy’s summer book club. The theme was Scifi, and although I hated alien, robots, and the like as a kid (Yeah, I know. I don’t recognize that little girl sometimes.), I did like a few of the books. A Wrinkle in Time always stood out to me though because its series had to do with time travel. Until I was in high school, time travel was the only sort of Science Fiction I’d read–mostly because of this series. Other than the time travel, I liked the main female character. Meg Murray with her awkwardness and brains was another girl I could relate to. Unfortunately, she grew up and had tons of babies in the later books and I didn’t like them quite as well because of it.
4. The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper ~ I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with King Arthur stories (And a bit of a crush on Mordred because I’m THAT girl.) and Cooper’s books are probably where some of that stems from. I stumbled upon this series at Zany Brainy (that was the perfect shop of a budding nerd girl, I tell you) and immediately I got caught up with the Arthurian mythology that threaded through them. In truth, I only liked the books that dealt with the Drew children. The one about the boy never caught my interest quite so much–making the finale of the series sort of blah, in my opinion.
5. Redwall by Brian Jacques ~ Is it weird to point out again that I discovered these books thanks to a handout at Zany Brainy? I had a thing with talking animal books in middle school. It started with Redwall and progressed onto the Whalesong Series, The Dark Portal Series, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NYMH (if it had talking mice, I particularly loved it). While I could never keep up with the sequence of Redwall, I read random books for years until I gave up because all that singing about food finally started to annoy me. This series definitely spurred me on to read more and it made me more confident to try bigger books because Jacques books were the size of adult books rather than just a little over two hundred pages like most of the stuff I had read up until that point.
What books (or book series) helped you become a reader?