100 Scope Notes
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Endangered Series #10: Little Bill

Popularity comes, popularity goes. As librarians we’re always balancing between what will circulate like crazy and what we need to have in the collection. And we’re not the Library of Congress – we can’t (and shouldn’t) keep everything.

An endangered series is one that appears to be waning in terms of popularity. But popularity isn’t everything. Should it stay, or should it go? Or think of it this way – if you were starting a library today, would this series make the cut? Let’s discuss.


Little Bill by Bill Cosby

Oh boy. This is the trickiest one yet. For me, at least, keeping or weeding this series went way beyond the simple “Is it circulating?” and “Are there other series that cover the same ground?” questions that I usually ask when making decisions. It brings up questions of diversity and morality.

The Case for Keeping: There are far too few series in this early reader zone that depict diverse characters. Far too few.

The Case for Not: The series is getting on in years. Also, the author has had some problems in recently (I received an A+ in understatement). But should that play into weeding decisions?

Refresh? There are no newer versions of the books in this series, but they are still widely available. Like I said, there are far too few early reader/early chapter books and series featuring diverse characters – but here are a few recent ones that jump to mind:


(Help me out here in the comments if you have additions)

My Verdict: One thing we often do to generate interest in series that have lagged is to booktalk them with students. Maybe I’ve failed as an impartial librarian, but I find it hard to get all “Rah! Rah!” about a series by this author. We continue to add books with diverse characters to our shelves, but we weeded this one due to low circulation.

What are you doing with this series at your library?


Endangered Series #1: The Boxcar Children

Endangered Series #2: The Hardy Boys

Endangered Series #3: American Girl

Endangered Series #4: The Baby Sitter’s Club

Endangered Series #5: The Bailey School Kids

Endangered Series #6: Nate the Great

Endangered Series #7: Cam Jansen

Endangered Series #8: The Kids of the Polk Street School

Endangered Series #9: Pony Pals

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I recently retired this series also. I had been thinking about it for years, and it was only the recent availability of more diverse ERs that made this decision possible. I don’t think the Little Bill books are particularly good, and they’re very preachy. I’ve always been a huge fan of Cosby’s work in other areas.

    His misbehavior didn’t enter into the decision, but it sure made me feel better about it.

  2. So, I am not a librarian, I am a classroom teacher. I am now teaching 5th grade, but 3 years ago I taught second grade. I taught that grade for about 6 years and during that time this series was popular with my students. I like that it presents realistic problems with an actual human as the character! So many books at this level seem to use animals as the character. I also think the illustrator of the series did a great job! I recall that students never chose this series without an introduction. I always had to introduce the series in a small group setting, but once I did they returned to the series often. I know the classroom library is different, but I still think this series is worthwhile to have in a library. And by the way, I love reading your blog!