“Fantasy is one of the most flexible genres. It is one of the few genres in which the same book can be read by an adult and a 12-year old — comfortably and without any explanation.” – unknown
Fantasy is a genre that appeals to many children and can be a great way to get them interested in reading. Recent writers have made the genre more popular than ever. Here are a few of my recommendations for children (and their parents or siblings) interested in fantasy, some better known than others.
As a rule, I recommend that children move from Oz, to Narnia, to Hogwarts, to Middle Earth.
Contrary to the movie’s ending, Oz wasn’t just a dream for Dorothy. L. Frank Baum wrote fourteen novels for children centering around Dorothy and her friends in the land of Oz, including many characters Hollywood left out.
C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia can be read in many different orders (published order vs. the newer chronological order) but all children should read at least The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series got children interested in reading like never before. With midnight release parties for the last few in the series, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of Harry Potter (and it might be even harder to find someone who doesn’t recommend it after having read them themselves). For the record, my favorite from the series is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The amount of detail that J. R. R. Tolkien put into Middle Earth, its peoples, and their history is greater than anything else I’ve ever read. While The Hobbit was meant to be a children’s book and the rest of The Lord of the Rings was meant for an older audience, I have found that most tend to favor one more than the other (I had a hard time getting through The Hobbit every time I tried to read it but The Lord of the Rings I’ve read multiple times).
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (and upcoming spin-off series) have been gaining in popularity, especially since the movie was released recently. I plan to tackle this series over the summer when my dad finishes but have heard only good things about it so far.
Tamora Pierce tends to be less recognized than some of the others but her Circle of Magic series following four children with special gifts and a unique bond are a solid choice for pre-teen readers. She also has a spin-off series, The Circle Opens among other series.
The movie did not do justice to Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted. Middle school age girls will fall in love with the characters and story of Ella of Frell and her prince Charmont. Following up Ella, Levine wrote The Two Princesses of Bamarre, which was good but didn’t quite match the magic of Ella.
I’m not going to go into details for all of these books because it would take too long, but here are a few others I recommend:
The Unicorn Hunt by Elaine Cunningham (Unfortunately, this book is out of print but check libraries and used book stores)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (Classic)
Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville (Published in 1994, it was the first of a series the Coville has been working on for a while; Book 3 was published in 2008 and Book 4 came out at the beginning of this month)
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (Another classic)
Princess Nevermore by Dian Curtis Regan (Originally published in 1995, she finally published a sequel, Cam’s Quest in 2007)