It could be that the adventure lies in exploring middle earth with Frodo Baggins; maybe the dark corridors of Hogwarts capture the magic in our hearts; or perhaps, even the wonder of a seemingly simple trip through a wardrobe, landing in Narnia excites us to the core. Whatever the origin, fantasy stories can transport children (and adults alike!) into unexplored realms, using unforgettable characters to guide us on the journey of a lifetime. Here are some recommended books to initiate any student into the fantastical worlds of fantasy reading.
For Pre-School and 1st Grade Readers:
“Julia’s House for Lost Creatures” by Ben Hatke
When Julia and her walking house move to a new town, she finds that she is in need of some company. After posting an advertisement, she finds herself quickly hosting a house full of magical oddities – mermaids, fairies, and goblins galore. Julia is thrilled with her new housemates but soon finds it necessary to figure out a way to keep the mess and noise at bay, before her once peaceful home becomes a permanent magical zoo.
“If I Had a Gryphon” by Vikki VanSickle
Be careful what you wish for. Despite receiving an adorable new hamster, Sam is left longing for a more exciting pet. However, after exotic creatures begin to show up, Sam soon realizes that caring for magical animals can be much more complicated. Unicorns are shy, hippogriffs scare dogs, and phoenixes are extremely flammable. Readers will enjoy the delightful rhyme schemes and the inventive, playful formatting of the story text.
“A Big Mooncake for Little Star” by Grace Lin
Have you ever wondered why the moon changes shape in the night sky? Little Star cannot resist taking a nibble out of the delicious moon cakes that she bakes with her Mama. Join author/illustrator Grace Lin in a fantastical tale that entertains, while also providing a learning opportunity relating to the phases of the moon.
For 2nd-3rd Grade Readers:
“My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Styles Gannett
Once Elmer Elevator hears about the misfortune of an overworked baby dragon he stows away on a ship destined for Wild Island. Elmer is presented with precarious danger at every turn and will need to employ his cunning wits to escape. Through lush jungles filled with dangerous animals, Elmer uses his engineering skills to fight his way out of trouble. Will it be enough to rescue the baby dragon?
“The Princess in Black” by Shannon and Dean Hale
When trouble arises, dainty Princess Magnolia secretly becomes the mysterious Princess in Black. Stopping monsters is her mission, but when nosy Duchess Wigtower begins snooping around, Magnolia’s secret identity becomes jeopardized. Follow along on a heart-stopping adventure as Princess Magnolia balances between a life of tea parties and the thrill of fighting monsters.
“Dragonbreath” by Ursula Vernon
Danny Dragonbreath is the only dragon at a school for reptiles and amphibians. He is unable to breathe fire but has a passion for going on adventures. Join Danny, his best iguana friend Wendell, and his sea-serpent cousin on an underwater journey filled with high seas hijinks, deep-sea creatures, and the occasional vomiting sea cucumber. Readers will love the hybridization of classic text and graphic novel styles while chuckling fiendishly at the author’s crisp sense of humor.
For 4th-5th Grade Readers:
“Dragons in a Bag” by Zetta Elliott
Jaxon intends to spend the day with the woman he assumes to be his grandmother. However instead of a kindly grandmother, Jax comes face-to-face with an aging magical matron named Ma. Jax is quickly tasked with the safekeeping of a handful of baby dragons, who require delivery to a magical world. With the aid of his friends, Vikram and Kavita, Jaxon embarks on an epic journey, spanning the familiar streets of Brooklyn to far-reaching destinations. The first book in a diverse urban fantasy series, “Dragons in a Bag” hooks young readers from the very first chapter.
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter has lived a normal dreary life with his aunt, uncle, and cousin. However, on the eve of his eleventh birthday, he finds that he is actually a wizard and has been offered acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Join Harry on his adventures where he will battle a mountain troll, face down a three-headed dog, and discover the power of friendship.
“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis
Join the four Pevensie siblings: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, as they journey through the enchanting world of Narnia. In this land, a great prophecy has been decreed – four young adventurers are destined to become kings and queens if they possess the courage to defeat the fearsome White Witch. With the help of a kindly fawn, a pair of quarrelsome beavers, and the might of Aslan, King of the Beasts, the young quartet prepare for the battle of a lifetime.
For Middle-Grade Readers:
“Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy” by Karen Foxlee
Ophelia, her sister, and their widowed father become stuck in a museum. Rational minded Ophelia has never believed in anything magical and knows that everything can be explained by science. That is until she discovers a boy who has been locked away in a room for one thousand years. He is a prisoner of the Snow Queen and he has been waiting for Ophelia. A journey that celebrates loss, redemption and the power of love is enough to move any reader.
“A Tale Dark and Grimm” by Adam Gidwitz
Classic fairy tale heroes Hansel and Gretel spring from the pages of their own story, finding themselves caught in the middle of eight other traditional Grimm fairy tales. Readers will love the juxtaposition of old and new as the pair encounters new witches, dangerous dragons, and forests darker than those they have seen before. Join the siblings on a reimagined adventure as they try once again to find where they belong.
“The Land of Stories – The Wishing Spell” by Chris Colfer
Twins Alex and Conner Bailey leave their world behind when entering a new realm full of magic and imagination. When confronted by the fairy tale characters they grew up with, they soon find they are not the familiar face they once had loved. With an evil queen hot on their trail, Alex and Conner must use wits, courage, and the help of new friends to find their way back home.
About the Author:
Sarah Moore graduated from The College of New Jersey with a master’s degree in special education, a master’s degree in deaf and hard of hearing education, and a bachelor’s degree in English. She worked for two years as a teacher of the deaf, before switching over to follow her passion for literacy.
For the past four years, Sarah has worked as a reading specialist, working with students in grades 2-12. Sarah has completed the IMSE Comprehensive and Intermediate training courses and practicums and is a Level 3 Master Instructor.
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