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Endangered Series #18: The Magic School Bus

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.

The Magic School Bus (Series) by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen

This series began in 1986 with The Magic School Bus at the Water Works and has kept on truckin’ every since, spawning spin off book series, two television series, and a possible live action/animation hybrid film to come.

The Case for Keeping: It’s one of the few series that combines fictional storytelling and real science. It can make potentially dry topics come alive.

The Case for Not: Like so many series from the 80s and 90s, circulations are down and (I’m just going to say it) the books are looking a bit dated for today’s students.

Refresh? There are still new titles being published in the series. Coming in April 2021: The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution.

There’s also a Scholastic Branches chapter book spin-off that coincided with the Magic School Bus reboot on Netflix:

My Verdict:

We’re weeding any duplicates, but hanging on to the series. Especially in a school library, the nonfiction elements of the books are valuable and the profile of the series remains pretty high.

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

Endangered Series #10: Little Bill

Endagered Series #11: Animal Ark

Endangered Series #12: Arthur

Endangered Series #13: The English Roses

Endangered Series #14: Marvin Redpost

Endangered Series #15: Little Critter

Endangered Series #16: Spiderwick Chronicles

Endangered Series #17: Junie B. Jones

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.