Thanks to book series such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, kids of all ages are now fascinated with fantasy novels. And, of course, characters like Mary Poppins and Peter Pan have enchanted young readers for years. The only required skill to be a fantasy reader is the ability to dream.
For parents, the challenge is in finding the right fantasy books for their children. These books should interest them and show them that imagination is a good thing. With a variety of topics incorporated into these stories, such as natural science, space, physical science and history, fantasy books also make great educational tools. They prompt children to think about the world around them. The fantasy books for children we discuss here do everything from taking kids to the moon to letting them venture into a moving castle, all while fueling their young imaginations and broadening their vocabulary.
Featuring gorgeous full-color illustrations, the 2010 Newbery Honor-winning novel, “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon,” combines Chinese folklore and fantasy beautifully. Minli lives with her parents in a modest hut and is entranced by the stories her father tells her in the evenings. Her favorites are the Old Man on the Moon and the Jade Dragon.
Minli decides to take off on an adventure to ask the Old Man on the Moon to change the fortunes of her family. The delightful characters she meets along the way teach children the value of friendship and working together. Packed to the brim with fantasy, it includes a dragon, plus treks through kingdoms and forests. This New York Times best-seller is a true fantasy for the ages, and is recommended for children from 8 to 12 years of age.
“Howl’s Moving Castle” follows Sophie, the eldest of three daughters, after she gains the attention of the Witch of the Waste through no fault of her own. The witch casts a spell on Sophie and turns her into an old lady. The only way for Sophie to break the spell is located in the ever-moving castle in the hills.
Sophie must travel to the castle and meet the wizard Howl, befriend a fire demon and eventually face the witch. Sophie finds out a lot about herself and Howl along her journey. Children will love the plot of the book and cheer for Sophie as she realizes there’s more to her life than meets the eye. This book is recommended for children between the ages of 8 and 12, who will enjoy the different take on magic and fantasy that awaits between its pages.
Once children pick up “Peter and the Starcatchers,” it will be impossible to put down. Brimming with fantasy and adventure, this is a fast-paced book that keeps children engaged until the very end.
Peter and his friends board the Never Land ship and travel to an island ruled by an evil king. The ship carries precious, mysterious cargo and the trip is fraught with danger. The characters in this book are lovable and richly developed and we think it will quickly become a children’s classic. Many adventures await kids in this book, which is recommended for fantasy lovers ages 10 and up.
“The Girl from Everywhere” follows Nix, a 16-year-old girl who has sailed through time on her father’s ship visiting places and centuries no one else ever could. Filled with history, fantasy and a modern world, this book has it all. Nix’s father finds a map that takes him back to Honolulu in 1868, the year before his wife died in childbirth. He hopes to change history, but changing it will also change everything for Nix, including the fact that she ever existed.
Determined to stay with the Persian thief on their crew, Nix must do all she can so she doesn’t lose her love and life. Perfect for teens and young adults, this fantasy combines adventure, romance and fantasy in a way that will make it a classic for years to come.
In Protectorate, it is common to leave a baby yearly as a sacrifice for the witch who lives in the woods so she will leave their town alone. What the citizens of Protectorate don’t know is that the witch, Xan, is a kind witch and protects the children who are sacrificed to her. She feeds them starlight to nourish them and places them with good families on the other side of the forest. One night, she feeds one of the babies moonlight instead of starlight by mistake and decides to raise the child she names Luna as her own.
As Luna grows, she comes into her full power, and when a man decides to free the town by killing the witch, the results are disastrous. This includes volcanoes rumbling, deadly birds descending and a Tiger woman on the prowl. This winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal is suitable for children ages 10 to 14 who are sure to love the plot twists and turns of the story.
“Fantasy is a genre that seamlessly promotes empathy, imagination through mystery, magic and adventure. From classics by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to the modern Harry Potter series, fantasy books have hooked young readers for decades. I love the genre and simply challenge parents to ensure the materials are appropriate for your child’s age and developmental needs. With that being said, many people I know still enjoy curling up on the couch with a fantasy book they first read back when they were 10 years old.”
Our Expert Consultant
Emily Watts is a mother of three (she has two adopted children and one foster child). She also is a licensed teacher with experience educating children in complex life situations. Emily has over seven years of experience in alternative education. She is passionate about children and specializes in helping those who may need a little extra attention or special care.