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Fantasy Stories

Fantasy Stories to Read To Your Kids (That You Might Also Enjoy)

David Almond
Skellig
Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. Unfortunately, it was a terrible wreck, his baby sister became sick, and his parents were too worried to give him much attention. Then he discovered a mysterious creature in the garage, who called himself Skellig. Michael's only friend, Mina from across the street, helped him take care of Skellig, and their time together changes their lives. This book is highly reviewed by children, and won the Whitbread Award's "1998 Children's Book of the Year."
 
Ursula K. LeGuin
Catwings
This small volume is perfect for children who are ready to move on from picture books. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is charming without being sickly sweet. Catwings introduces the four unusual babies born to Mrs. Jane Tabby, and their adventures growing up in the city. If this book is a hit with your kids, they'll be pleased to know that there are three more installments, equally well told and illustrated.
 
Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle In Time
Most people believe that Meg Murray's father intentionally left their family and abandoned them. Most people believe that Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace, are emotionally disturbed, and a little bit stupid. Most people could never believe the truth. Mr. Murray was a scientist experimenting with time- and interstellar- travel when he disappeared. This is the first award-winning book in the series, so satisfied readers will be able to follow the Murrays' adventures for a long time.
 
C.S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The four Pevensie children were upset to discover they'd be living with their old uncle during World War II. Little did they know that this trip was only the beginning of a very long adventure. During a game of hide-and-seek, the children discover the magical world of Narnia and its inhabitants - animals with the size and intelligence of people. Narnia was taken over by an evil witch, who decided it would always be winter, and yet never Christmas. Can the children stay out of her control, let alone save the rest of Narnia? Although this was the first book written in the Narnia series, newer sets are listed chronologically, technically making this the second volume.
 
Robin McKinley
Spindle's End
This retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" is told in McKinley's usual way, incorporating all of the traditional elements of the fairy tale, but also ideas that could only come from McKinley's unique imagination. Rosie, the princess in question, is cursed by a fairy on her naming day, and is whisked away to live in the country, in obscure safety. The twist is that Rosie is a tomboy, and not the typical princess-in-distress that we're all used to. The setting is rich and well developed, and the characters are very human - even the animals! Enjoy the new places into which McKinley takes this well-loved story.
 
Robert C. O'Brien
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Mrs. Frisby is a widowed field mouse with four children. One spring she has an awful decision to make. The farmer decides to work his fields early, meaning her family must move immediately, or be killed. But her youngest son, Timothy, is terribly sick and cannot be moved. Mrs. Frisby goes to consult with various wise animals, none of which have a solution. Finally, she visits the strange rats living under the rosebush, and the answer they come up with together is dangerous, but brilliant. There are two sequels, but O'Brien's daughter, Jane Leslie Conly, wrote them.
 
Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights)
Lyra Belacqua is a 12-year-old girl living in an alternate world very similar to Earth. Her life is carefree and happy until her best friend, Roger, disappears. He seems to be the latest victim of the Gobblers, a mysterious group who are blamed for the kidnapping of children far and wide. But before Lyra can do anything about it, her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, leaves her in the care of a friend so that he can go on a journey. Read along to find out what happens to Lyra, Roger, and Asriel, because you'd never be able to guess on your own!
 
J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The first book of the Harry Potter series is a fun, fast read, but not entirely a cheerful one. Harry was orphaned when he was a year old, and his aunt and uncle have taken him in--unfortunately, they don't like him very much. He suffers their insults and mistreatment until the age of 12, when strange people begin taking an interest in his education. Harry spends the next year trying to come to terms with himself, his abilities, and the other people like him, but it won't be easy. Danger and adventure seem to follow Harry whether he likes it or not! As the series goes on, the story gets more mature, but Amazon.com recommends this first volume for ages 9-12.
 
Lemony Snicket
The Bad Beginning
The Baudelaire children have rather miserable lives. Their parents died in a fire, and so they were shipped off to their nearest relative, Count Olaf, who treats them like slaves. After this, things only continue to get worse. Many people are concerned about the appropriateness of this extremely popular series because of its dark themes, but depending on the particular reader, this may or may not be true. The Baudelaire children are resourceful, and determined to overcome any obstacle. Much of their trouble is melodramatic, even laughable. And a lot of the book is written in a sarcastic tone. The humor is very dark, so perhaps more sensitive and younger children might prefer something else. However, many fans of Harry Potter will enjoy the "more realistic" grim situations to the usual cheerful kiddie fare. The movie based on the series will incorporate the first three books in this series.
 
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit
Before Frodo and company ever left the Shire, Bilbo had an adventure of his own. He was a well-to-do, respected hobbit with a comfortable, quiet life in the countryside. Then Gandalf showed up, bringing with him a most alarming band of dwarves and an outrageous proposal. What happens next sets the stage for the War of the Ring. Follow Bilbo and his friends as they battle spiders and trolls, escape several captures, and confront a greedy dragon.
 

Updated:09/04/2009