16 Magical Kids’ Fantasy Books to Enchant Your Middle-Grade Reader
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Are you looking for kids’ fantasy books to enchant your middle-grade reader with epic adventures, witches, wizards, magic, and fairy tales? This reading list of magical kids’ fantasy books might be just what you and your magic-loving young reader need.
The kids in these pages embark on quests, battle evil, and even become witches or wizards (or other magical beings) themselves.
Fantasy adventures, spell casting, mystery, and mystical worlds are the stuff of any kid’s dreams–the fantasy elements may vary, but the magic and enchantment are present in all of the best kids’ fantasy books.
Reading these children’s fantasy books is sure to enchant your child and transport them to worlds they can only dream of.
FANTASY BOOKS FOR FOURTH- AND FIFTH-GRADERS
Most of these fantasy books for kids are appropriate for fourth- and fifth-graders who have already read Harry Potter or Percy Jackson (or are graduating from The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne to more mature fantasy chapter books).
Reading these kids’ fantasy books will transport your child on fantastical journeys where anything is possible–and may even inspire them to write their own stories and discover their creativity.
My fifth-grade daughter helped me assemble this list, and it includes her best book recommendations for any kid who loves magic and fantasy–many of these are her favorite books. (Note that a few must-reads–including the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien–haven’t been forgotten but are still on our list to read.)
She is always ready for a great fantastical hero (or heroine!) story. I have the good fortune of being able to share them with her–whether through our read-alouds, discussions of books we’ve both read, or her detailed descriptions when she just has to share the latest development in the book she’s reading.
The fantasy genre has never been my specialty, so I love that she is able to teach me about the best children’s fantasy books (and that I can share them with you).
BOOKS FOR FANS OF HARRY POTTER AND PERCY JACKSON
As so many parents have discovered over the last couple of decades since Harry Potter was first published, fantasy and magic can turn young children into lifelong, voracious readers.
Of course, we loved Harry Potter, too, but I’ve been eager to put together a list of book recommendations that are alternatives to Harry Potter after J.K. Rowling’s trans-exclusionary comments.
While I can’t speak to the views of all of these authors, Rowling’s use of her enormous platform to double-down on her hurtful statements is enough to prompt me to support others over her when recommending fantasy fiction for kids.
All the wonderful things that first captured readers’ imaginations are here in these modern children’s fantasy books.
Of course, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and related series are excellent options, but after flying through them, we were ready for some new series and new worlds to explore.
Enchanting kids’ fantasy books are the perfect way to inspire your magic-loving kid. Kids who love reading these fantasy books can’t help but dream of their own adventures–and who doesn’t want to add a little magic and adventure to their kids’ lives in the age of COVID?
LIST OF THE BEST FANTASY BOOKS TO TRANSPORT YOUR CHILD TO A MAGICAL WORLD
These magical middle-grade fantasy books–mostly modern, but I threw in a classic or two–are some of the best books to transport young readers out of ordinary life and into a world of wonder.
The great thing about these magical books is that they aren’t just limited to wizards, witches, and dragons.
Fairy tale retellings, mythology, and a variety of kids’ fantasy stories are on this list–and many aren’t just stand-alone books, but are must-read fantasy series, so your kids can stay in these magical worlds even longer.
So find your favorite spot and get ready to read some of the best kids’ fantasy novels today–you and your young reader are sure to love them.
The Blue Witch (The Witches of Orkney series)
Author: Alane Adams
Source: SparkPoint Studio
The Witches of Orkney series is the current nighttime read-aloud with my fifth-grade daughter, and we are loving it. She was thrilled when the publisher sent the series for review–with witches, Norse mythology, and a magical school, it’s filled with so many elements she loves.
This is a prequel series set in the same world as The Legends of Orkney. The Blue Witch is the first installment in the series; the fourth book (The Mermaid Queen) is out October 12, 2021. More info
The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern series)
Author: Shannon Hale
The Books of Bayern series has been a fantastic, immersive read-aloud. The fictional kingdom of Bayern feels historical, but with people who have magical abilities to communicate with nature. In the first book, The Goose Girl, Ani is a princess who is sent to Bayern to marry the prince and cement peace between two kingdoms, but she is betrayed and forced to hide and tend geese to survive.
Hale’s books are smart and enjoyable for both kids and adults–they’re an excellent read-aloud choice if you’re an adult who doesn’t particularly love fantasy (but your child does). There is some violence, but the political maneuverings depicted in the books raise a lot of great discussions, and the magic isn’t too heavy-handed. More info
Princess Academy (Trilogy)
Author: Shannon Hale
My daughter and I weren’t sure about this book when we first started–she is not into princesses–but it was recommended by a trusted friend, so we dove in. We were not disappointed. Hale’s series about a mountain community divined as the source of the prince’s bride is intelligent and complex.
The series is filled with politics, economics, and of course, a little magical realism, wrapped in a riveting story led by a strong female main character–this one is fitting for both middle school and young adult readers. More info
The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories series)
Author: Chris Colfer
This series about a set of twins who fall into a fairy tale world captured my daughter’s imagination and kicked off her love of fairy tale retellings. She’s read and reread these books and frequently details what’s happening in the story. (For my part, I like to show her videos of the multi-talented Colfer singing in Glee. She’s not quite sure what to make of that.) More info
Sorcery for Beginners (Codex Arcanum series)
Author: Matt Harry
This middle-grade book is perfect for fans of Harry Potter. When a 13-year-old stumbles on a strange bookstore and finds himself the owner of a magical sorcery book, this ordinary boy gets more than the ability to take on school bullies. Instead, he and some new friends–led by a magical old woman–are drawn into a centuries-old war that threatens the existence of magic.
Full of fun, adventure, and snark that older middle-grade kids and adults will appreciate. You’ll want the physical copies of this one and the sequel, Cryptozoology for Beginners–they are both works of art (and the second features LGBTQIA characters and tons of magical, mythical creatures). More info
Author: Anne Ursu
When 11-year-old Hazel’s former best friend, Jack, stops talking to her altogether, she discovers a dark truth: his heart has been frozen. Hazel needs to save him, but will the Jack she saves be the same Jack she once knew? This enchanting novel inspired by “The Snow Queen” is a coming-of-age story of friendship that my young reader loved. More info
Keeper of the Lost Cities (series)
Author: Shannon Messenger
Keeper of the Lost Cities has been the series among my fifth grader’s reader friends–a worthy successor to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. These huge books about a young girl and boy with telepathic powers have captivated middle-grade readers with epic storytelling, a complex world, and fully developed characters–young fantasy fans will have a hard time putting it down!
My own bookworm is eagerly awaiting the next installment. I also hear a film is forthcoming. More info
A Tale of Magic (series)
Author: Chris Colfer
Colfer’s newest series is set in the same universe as The Land of Stories, so if you loved that, you should definitely try this series. When a teen discovers a hidden library book that teaches her forbidden magic, she is whisked from the real world off to–you guessed it–a magical school where she will learn to be a fairy. Again, all is not as it seems.
Despite following many standard magical tropes, Colfer’s fans will appreciate his expansive storytelling and ability to explore different areas of the enchanting universe he’s created. More info
Upside–Down Magic (series)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins
This kids fantasy series is a favorite of both my daughters (first- and fourth-graders at the time of reading). Again set at a magical boarding school where two best friends go to learn magic. The students are separated by their type of magical gift–plus one group of misfits who can’t quite control their talents–this series has a much lighter touch than Harry Potter. They love discussing the magical creatures in these books and the books aren’t as scary for my youngest child, who is more sensitive to darker stories. They also love the Upside-Down Magic Disney movie. More info
Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School series)
Author: Jen Calonita
I confess that it didn’t really register with me that fairy tale retellings were such a phenomenon until I saw The Land of Stories series, but my daughter is all in on them. Jen Calonita has spun up the concept in several ways, and the Fairy Tale Reform School series puts ex-fairy tale villains in charge of heading off children in danger of becoming villains.
This series seems a little lighter than others with more high-minded undertones but still includes themes of good and evil and believing in yourself that younger readers will enjoy. More info
Misfits (Royal Academy Rebels series)
Author: Jen Calonita
Set in the same magical world of Enchantsia as the Fairy Tale Reform School series, this series turns from the villains to focus on the royals. Again, the setting is a boarding school, this time where young royal-borns learn to lead the kingdom. Of course, there is more than meets the eye at this fairy tale school. Light, fun, and fast-paced magical reading. More info
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Author: Kelly Barnhill
You know a book is good when kids are pressing it into one another’s hands, urging them to read it so they can discuss it. That’s what happened when a neighbor friend recommended The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
My ten-year-old couldn’t stop talking about this mystical fantasy. In this Newbery Award-winning book, parents leave their babies for an evil witch in the forest, hoping their sacrifice will keep them safe–but the witch is actually good and gives the babies to loving families. One night, she accidentally feeds a baby moonlight and gives her magical abilities, prompting her to raise the baby as her own. More info
A Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
This children’s literature classic is the quintessential science fiction/fantasy kid-lit book. Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin are thrust into magical adventures through the universe, guided by three quirky and supernatural women, to rescue their father.
I must admit: I was not one of the child readers enraptured by this book. My tastes as a kid, though, did not veer toward fantasy or science fiction. I’m curious how this would hold up for my kids–it’s on our list to try. More info
Black Magic Academy (Wicked Witches of Restva series)
Author: Emily Martha Sorensen
Any book about a magical school is a must-read for my magic-loving bookworm! This book about a girl navigating her school for evil witches–when she really wants to be a good witch–is an excellent choice for magic-loving kids who enjoy reading about friendships. More info
Mirror, Mirror (A Twisted Tale series)
Author: Jen Calonita
Disney itself brings these reimaginings of its own fairy tale tellings into an expansive series with twisted endings. Multiple authors tackle favorites such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White (shown here with Mirror, Mirror), and many more.
Some reviewers say these are much darker than the happily ever afters of the Disney movies, so be aware of that. If your kids enjoyed the darker film retellings such as Maleficent, they might appreciate this series. More info
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia series)
Author: C.S. Lewis
It’s a classic of children’s literature for a reason. My fifth grader loved traveling through the wardrobe and into the magical land of Narnia with Lucy Pevensie and her adventurous siblings. Unforgettable characters and an epic battle between good and evil make this an essential childhood read for fantasy lovers. More info
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What are some of your favorite magic and fantasy kids’ books? We’d love your best recommendations!
Thank you (and your daughter!) for this great list! My own daughter is excited to check out some of these as she loved Princess Academy and we are about to delve into The Land of Stories. This has so many more for us to explore!
My favorite series growing up was The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. The Light vs. the Dark, Arthurian legend, magic and friendship and all those great things. Kids who like Harry Potter, His Dark Materials and Narnia are guaranteed to like those books as well. 🙂
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques and The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini are also great. I don’t know how I managed to get through LOTR when I was a kid, but I can’t do it now. The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon is the first book) is set in a similar world, but the series is much easier to read than Tolkien’s work.