December 8, 2016
by Maggie Knutson
Lesson Plan:

Comparing and Contrasting Book Series

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Students will be able to identify the two different kinds of book series and list the criteria used to classify them.

Students will be able to analyze a book series and classify it as episodic or epic.

(10 minutes)
  • Explain that a series is a sequence of books that share the same author, main characters and setting, and are identified as a group (usually numbered).
  • With students working in pairs or small groups, give them five minutes to generate as many examples of book series as they can (i.e. Harry Potter, Encyclopedia Brown, Magic Tree House).
  • After the time is up, have the group with the longest list share all of their titles.
  • Then, have each group share any that they think other groups may not have thought of.
  • Explain that today, they will be exploring books in a series. Ask students: Why do they think some authors create books in a series? Do any students prefer reading series vs. stand-alone novels? Why?
(20 minutes)
  • Distribute the "Comparing Books Series" worksheet that accompanies this lesson. Explain that there are two basic kinds of book series. You’re not going to tell them what they are. Rather, you are going to put an example of each kind of series on their group tables and see if they can discover the difference. For example, you can give a group three Encyclopedia Brown books and three Harry Potter books.
  • Review the directions on the worksheet and allow groups about 10 minutes to study the two series and note their observations (similarities and differences) on the graphic organizer.
  • Interrupt the groups about halfway through and give them this clue: Characters can be static or dynamic throughout a series. Explain that static means unchanging, and dynamic means that the characters develop and evolve.
  • After 10 minutes, share and discuss their observations and conclusions as a class. See answer sheet for the critical ideas that you should be sure they included. If they have additional observations, that’s great!
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the worksheet "Kinds of Book Series."
  • Review the criteria listed at the top of the sheet so that students are clear about how to identify each kind of series.
  • Hold up a few books from one series. Read the back of the books to the class. If you have read the books, give a summary. Ask students if they have a hypothesis about what kind of series it is. If they don’t know, ask them what they would do to find out. If they were to read the books what would they watch for to determine what kind of series it is?

  • Go through one more example with a different series.
(20 minutes)
  • Explain that they will now select five different series to examine. They will apply the criteria and decide whether the series is Episodic or Epic.
  • Bring students to a library where they will have access to a lot of books with many series. The grade/reading level of the series doesn’t matter for this activity.
  • Allow for students about 20 minutes to circulate the library. They should use the criteria from the previous activity (listed at the top of the sheet for them), and complete the questions on the grid and then designate each series as Episodic or Epic.


  • Have students work in the library in pairs or groups.


  • Have students complete the questions at the bottom of the grid on the library activity.
(5 minutes)
  • Use the information on the grids in addition to anecdotal observations during independent work time to assess students’ understanding. Collect and grade the worksheets, if desired.
  • OPTIONAL: Have students complete an “exit slip” after the lesson. Give them ½ sheet of paper and have time write how they can tell if a book series is Episodic or Epic.
(5 minutes)
  • Review students’ conclusions about the books series that they studied. Select students to share one series and share how they classified it. Ask whether any other students chose the same series and if they agree with the designation.
  • If you have time, discuss the questions listed below the grid.

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