100 Scope Notes
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Endangered Series #19: Dear America

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.

School librarian Amy P. emailed with our candidate today, and it’s a good one to think about . . .

Dear America (Series) by various authors

This historical fiction series began in 1996 and ran until 2004(ish). It was also rebooted for a couple years beginning in 2010.

The Case for Keeping: Solid historical fiction series are hard to come by. The diary format of the book is unique and engaging. For fans, the series has meant a lot.

The Case for Not: As reader Amy P. mentioned, other historical fiction series have overtaken this one in popularity (like I Survived). Earlier books in the series are going out of print and no new installments seem to be in the horizon.

Refresh? While the series as a whole hasn’t seen any updates, one book from the series, Like the Willow Tree (about the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918), has been (in response to the COVID-19 pandemic) reissued in paperback with a new cover and introduction from the author, Lois Lowry.

My Verdict:

They are still on our shelves, but early books in the series will likely be a candidate for weeding in the near future

What are you doing with this series at your library?

Previously:

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

Endangered Series #18: Magic School Bus

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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.

Comments

  1. Please do not hasten the extinction of this endangered series! Although not all the books are of equal quality, some are great. The authors are often distinguished; if the books were not marketed as part of a series, they may have been taken more seriously. These are historical fiction, so the claim that they are “dated” is less valid than for other series. It’s true that some of them are seriously flawed by insensitive or inaccurate interpretations, so maybe you don’t need to keep those. I also like the fact that several historical periods, or groups of Americans, are represented by more than one book.
    https://imaginaryelevators.blog/2019/08/20/remember-pearl-harbor/
    https://imaginaryelevators.blog/2019/08/29/confederate-diary-tells-all/

  2. Steph Gibson says

    Just want to thank you for this series of blog posts! I have an ongoing internal dialogue about some of these older series and it is great to hear other people’s thoughts.