Weekends, workdays, and writing a series

I’m reading the Magic Treehouse books to my 5-year-old. If you’ve never picked them up, they’re pretty good for kids who are beginning to be OK with books that focus on words, not pictures. The vocabulary is within reach for a beginning reader, but the stories are exciting enough for kids who are being read to. My 3-year-old will listen for a bit, and will look at the pictures (there’s roughly one a chapter) but then leaves to go play Legos. My 5-year-old, on the other hand, has gotten pretty into them. And, of course, like many children’s books, they’re a series. We’ve been moving through, book by book, exploring dinosaurs, knights, ninjas, the Ice Age, etc. I’m remembering that the fun part of a series — and oh, did I read a lot of them as a kid — is getting to know the characters and knowing that you’ll like the next book because you liked the last one.

The series I’m working on is not nearly that exciting, but it is a series nonetheless. Following the somewhat surprising sales of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast this summer, my publisher and I decided to do a 3-part series. I recently turned in WTMSPD on the Weekend, which will be followed by WTMSPD at Work. All are being released, first, as ebooks (they’re about 10,000 words apiece), with the weekend one coming out in January, and the workday one coming out in April. The three will be bundled and sold as a paperback sometime in fall of 2013.

It’s been a new and fairly pleasurable experience as a writer to start a project not entirely from scratch. I know the format of the two previous ebooks I’ve turned in, and now I’m starting the third knowing roughly how I want it to look. It’s making me think I want to work on a fiction series at some point. I like coming back to ideas.

But anyway, as I’m writing about how people spend their workdays effectively, I welcome stories and tips. What makes a workday successful? How should you try to structure it? What matters and what doesn’t? If you have ideas for how to promote the weekend ebook in January, I welcome those, too.

And finally, a better discussion question: what’s your favorite kids’ book series? Which ones have your kids read?

14 thoughts on “Weekends, workdays, and writing a series

  1. My 14 year old son is a big fan of LOTR and has read all the books twice. Ditto for The Lion, Witch Wardrobe books.

    My kids aren’t as crazy about them, but *I* love the Little House books and have read them all aloud more than once (silently also).

    My 9 year old daughter likes the Magic Tree House too. When my kids were younger, I read the first 11 books of the Series of Unfortunate Events. I liked them at first but they got a little tiresome at the end.

  2. A series I never read as a child but discovered later and really enjoyed is “All of a Kind Family” by Sydney Taylor. I heard it described as a Jewish version of Little House on the Prairie.

  3. My two year old loves Shirley Hughes’ books about Alfie and Annie Rose (brother and sister getting into various bits of trouble, Mairi Hedderwick’s Katie Morag books (little girl who lives on a Scottish island and has rival grandmothers), all things Charlie and Lola, Daisy by Kes Gray, and Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs (original, not TV version). My seven year old is nuts for Harry Potter and Percy Jackson (a teenage take on Greek myths), and also enjoyed Mr Majeika (wizard schoolteacher), Asterix, and the American Girl series.

    1. @Heather – all great recommendations! We had a discussion with family of older cousins recently about what age to introduce Harry Potter. At some point school friends will start mentioning, but is this something to read aloud, or figure that reading ability and ability to process dark magic themes will develop simultaneously?

  4. I was thinking, “didn’t I just post about DC’s favorite series”? The answer: yes, but in the future– it is part of this upcoming Monday’s post (which is also about my Scholastic addiction).

    DC1 (second grade) is really into mystery series right now, so A to Z mysteries, Cam Jansen, and Jigsaw Jones. He also recently reread all of the Magic Treehouse books. Those things are crack.

    Re: Harry Potter, we’re planning to let him read them himself. He’s not interested yet though– I think the limiting factor is how big the print is in a book more than anything.

    We’re reading Anne of Green Gables to him right now (which has many layers of hilarity that I totally missed as a child), but I don’t think he will be interested in the rest of the series any time soon– Anne gets boring after the first book until one is old enough to be interested in romance.

  5. Laura, I loved your post as it brought back memories of an earlier chapter of my life when I ran an elementary school library–what fun to watch children enjoy books! I was a huge fan of the Trixie Belden books as a young girl and still find them lots of fun today. My own daughter enjoyed the Berenstain Bear books, mostly as read-alouds.

    On a work-related note, last year I started walking for 30 minutes during my lunch break, listening to books on my cell phone. This has absolutely transformed my workday–I look forward to a little break from work, a little exercise midday and I LOVE being read to! Sometimes I listen to children’s classics and sometimes adult mysteries. I keep walking shoes at work and eat my lunch at my desk after I return from my walk.

  6. My daughter is reading the Magic Treehouse series to her younger brother. Her first grade teacher read the series, 1 book per week, last year and she got hooked. So now she has been reading them at home and her little brother loves to listen to them.

  7. My son loved the Hank the Cowdog series, though I was less enthusiastic. I read to him every night for years, and it was one of my favorite parts of the day. Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook is an excellent resource for parents looking for good stuff to read to their kids–we tried many of his recommendations.

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