You would not know it from looking at the list of books I have read mostly recently, but the fantasy genre is my favorite. I am thoroughly intrigued by the world building, the scope of the stories, and the depth of the characters. The creativity involved in writing fantasy fiction is fascinating and enviable.
For whatever reason, I was not exposed to much fantasy fiction growing up. It was not until my early 20’s when J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time entered my life, that I discovered the genre that would take my appreciation for the written word from “I like you a lot” to “You are my soul mate, never leave my side.” Since my first encounters with the worlds of Hogwarts and the Westlands, I have spent countless hours lost in Westeros (George R.R. Martin’s Songs of Fire and Ice), the Four Corners of Civilization (Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles), and the Underdark of Faerun (R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf Trilogy), among many others. Not all of those lost hours have been while reading, I have to admit. Fantasy fiction has a way of captivating your attention. Excellent fantasy fiction can hold that attention long after the book has been put down.
I remember many school days when this escape and distraction would have been very helpful. This, coupled with the fact that my oldest daughter seems to have inherited my inclination towards the fantasy genre, got me thinking about what fantasy fiction books there are available for kids.
You should be forewarned, Harry Potter will not be included in this list. The reason being that it goes without saying (or writing) that the Harry Potter books should be read. We all know this. What we need to know is what else there is after those phenomenal seven books have stolen our hearts.
The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster) – This fantastic piece of literature is the perfect introduction into fantasy fiction. The jokes may go over the younger kids’ heads the first time around but that just makes it an ideal re-read for them. Whether they get it fully or not, you will laugh out loud in every chapter.
The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) – These books need no introduction. While The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe gets all the attention, make sure your children read them all. They are all excellent.
The Wingfeather Saga (Andrew Peterson) – Don’t let the titles deter you from these books. It took me a long time to get over the title On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness before finally letting my oldest daughter read the book. She could not put it down and has thoroughly enjoyed the series.
The Ranger’s Apprentice (John Flanagan) – I’ll be perfectly honest, I read these books because I heard them mentioned in passing and wanted to see if they would be good for my kids and then I never put them down. These books have all the elements of good fantasy fiction. There are moments of flirtation and the beginnings of boy/girl relationships, but it is all very innocent and not a main story line. Fair warning for your young advanced readers.
The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) – If you have been reading this blog or following along on social media, then you already know my feelings about this particular book. However, like it or not, it is a British classic and a remarkable (yes, I said it) example of fantasy writing.
The Chronicles of Prydain (Lloyd Alexander) – I have not read these books yet, but they have been highly recommended to me over and over again by people whose opinions I trust with my reading list. This series is next on my list to read.
The Green Ember (S.D. Smith) – The Green Ember, its sequel Ember Falls, and its prequel The Black Star of Kingston are very entertaining books that follow the lives of a few very brave rabbits. These books make excellent read alouds.
Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins) – Suzanne Collins’ (of Hunger Games fame) Underland Chronicles is an example of the fact that fantasy does not need to be watered down when written for children. This series is a must read.
Warriors (Erin Hunter) – If you have been in a place where books of any kind are collected in any number, then you have seen a Warriors book. They are the ones with the cats on the cover. Yes, those ones. There seem to be an unlimited number of them. Here’s the deal, I have never read them (because I am completely guilty of judging books by their cover in this case). But every single elementary school age girl I know has read them and loved them. That is good enough to get my recommendation.
Guardians of Ga’Hoole (Kathryn Lasky) – At the risk of sounding negligent…this is another series highly recommended that, you guessed it, I have not read. Don’t worry I promise to not make a habit of recommending books I haven’t read. These owls have inspired many conversations I have been a part of and I look forward to being able to add my two cents soon.
Redwall (Brian Jacques) –
It was the start of the Summer of the Late Rose. Mossflower country shimmered gently in a peaceful haze, bathing delicately at each dew-laden dawn, blossoming through high sunny noontides, languishing in each crimson-tinted twilight that heralded the soft darkness of June nights.
And that is just the prologue. This is a master’s class is writing. You will never regret reading these books or having your children read them.
Maybe you noticed that a staple of the fantasy genre is missing from this list, never fear, the dragons have not been forgotten. Dragons are coming soon!