Children’s Book Series Spark a Lifelong Love of Reading

Original article published on www.apricothill.com.

by Lacey Reeces

Solving mysteries one letter of the alphabet at a time, Ruth Rose Hathaway, Dink Duncan and Josh Pinto never cease to entertain in all 26 titles of the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy. Younger readers easily relate to the nine year old sleuths’ antics while parents admittedly miss the trio’s sleuthing as their children grow older. My Apricot Hill had the pleasure of speaking to Ron Roy who provided us with insight into the inspiration behind his series.

A former fourth grade teacher, Roy saw a need for a series of books that appealed to young, reluctant readers. Roy wanted to reach boys in particular, as he saw a lack of engaging, somewhat educational books appealing to young boys. He specifically created characters of both genders to engage girls as well. While the books certainly aren’t lacking in suspense or adventure, he is careful to omit violence. So parents may feel at ease.

Ron Roy did not imagine that millions of children from all over the world would come to love the A to Z Mysteries as they did. The success and popularity prompted Roy to create two additional series, The Capitol Mysteries centering on the monuments in Washington D.C. and The Calendar Mysteries with a book for each month out of the year.

Ironically, Roy tells us that as a child he did not grow up surrounded by books. His parents were not big readers, so it wasn’t until he discovered the library across the street from his home when his passion for reading emerged. He takes pride in passing his love of reading on to a new generation through his writing. Always devoted to his readers, Roy takes time out of each morning to personally respond to fan mail.

We’d be remiss not to mention a classic series that has encouraged reading and delighted young teens for decades. Nancy Drew has a special place on our shelves and in our hearts. As relevant today as she was in the 1930s, Nancy Drew is still besting the bad guys and outwitting the boys.

A wonderful series to introduce to late elementary to middle school aged readers, Nancy Drew is a teenage girl who’s mother passed away when she was a young girl and now she lives with her father and housekeeper in River Heights. Nancy works with her two best friends Bess Marvin and George Fayne to solve mysteries in her hometown. An exemplary student with an exhilarating spirit and uncompromising values, Nancy proves to be a role model for girls of all ages. Her character was created at a time when women struggled for equality. Nancy is credited with helping to pave the way for future female literary heroines.

More than just a feisty female detective, Nancy Drew soon became a cultural icon. More than 80 million copies of her books have sold globally with translations in 45 different languages. Two spin off series have since been written, The Nancy Drew Files, created in the 1980s features an adult version of Nancy, followed by a modernized version of the original series, Girl Detective. If all this talk of Nancy has you wistful for more, pick up a copy of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Woman Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak.

The coming of age series, Sweet Valley High draws on a similar target demographic, 50 years after the peak of Nancy Drew’s acclaim. Written in 1983, Sweet Valley High spans twenty years with 152 titles and chronicles the lives of memorable twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. The twins are the most popular girls in school from a seemingly perfect family with the “all-American” style every girl feels anxious to emulate.

For so many young women, no matter what phase of your life, the mere mention of Sweet Valley High transports you back to simpler times. Times when your biggest concerns were fretting over what to wear to prom, your Saturday night date and what to do about a bad hair day, problems that the twins would relate to and share.

We were delighted when the twins returned recently with the reunion series, Sweet Valley Confidential. Picking up where the final book left off ten years later, catching up with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield engages reading fans on a trip down nostalgia lane. Sweet Valley Confidential was so successful, that another series called Sweet Valley: The Sweet Life is in the works set a few years after where Sweet Valley Confidential leaves off.

The common thread found among these well-written series are the books’ inherent capacity to capture our attention which renders us wanting more. Lasting connections are made when we begin to see ourselves mirrored in the characters. Imaginations soar through their crazy antics, madcap adventures and coming of age awkwardness. The mention of a favorite character brings smiles years after the final chapter is read. Fortunately, you can keep the magic of these series alive by passing on your favorite classic series to your children and grandchildren.

Lacey Reeves is the Director of Editorial Services and Strategic Partnerships at Apricot Hill.

Photos courtesy of Dennis Brekke and series-books.com.

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