The Unfortunate Series of Events (13 books) by Lemony Snicket
The web site for Lemony Snicket, pseudonym for author David Handler of this thirteen book series, directs the visitor to “Click on each book to find out more. Or, more sensibly, turn your computer off.” This quirky and charming sense of humor serves as dust jacket recommendations for all of the books in this series about a trio of enterprising orphans whose lives are beset by unreliable adults. The unrelenting misfortunes of these children seemed to me to be parody of a similar humor when I read the first book, but I have never met a child who did not appear a little concerned at my notion that this was a humorous series.
Every year students in my classes love this series, and every year I am amazed at the variety of readers who get hooked into reading all thirteen books. It does not seem to matter what age they are; I have seen seven year olds love them (though they are rated at a sixth grade reading level), I have seen high school kids love them. Reluctant readers love them, seasoned readers love them. Boys love them; girls love them. Since there are thirteen of them and they do not seem to become any less appealing as the series progresses, they are excellent for turning non-readers into readers of quantity. Though they are filled with bad and sad events, there is a lack of emotional suffering in them. This, and a cleverly sustained sense of suspense created by the children constantly trying to wend their way out of their troubles, keeps these books both appropriate and entertaining.