A Beginners Guide to Fantasy
By Katrin Gross
Wizards. Monsters. Time travel. Magic. Fantasy encompasses all the things we dream about and wish were a part of our world. Some books even take place in made up worlds that we’ve never heard of. By reading fantasy, you get to experience that magic and immerse yourself in a world you never imagined. But where do you start? Which books do you read first if you’ve never tried fantasy? Or, if you have, what do you want to read next?
If you’re a younger reader…
These books are shorter and have lots of pictures. They’re perfect if you’re just starting out on your reading journey!
Magic Tree House - Mary Pope Osborn
In these books, Jack and Annie Smith, a brother and sister duo from Pennsylvania (just like many of you!), go on adventures together with the help of a magical tree house which transports them to new places. These books will have you traveling back in time and all over the world–to the North Pole and even to the Moon–as well as to some worlds we’ve never seen before! There are a ton of books in this series and they’re all a little different, so you can pick the stories that interest you!
Rise of the Earth Dragon - Tracey West
This is another series with plenty of books to choose from–and it has dragons! 8-year-old Drake is training to become a Dragon Master. Can he learn to train his dragon and uncover its special power? If you liked the How to Train Your Dragon movies, you’ll love these books! They have magic, wizards, and adventure as Drake and his dragon strive to help other dragons and Dragon Masters. Not to mention, these books have captivating illustrations on every page!
What if the myths are true…
If you love mythology or want to learn more about it in a fun and immersive way, you might want to give these series a try. If you want to read about gods and heroes, these books are for you!
Percy Jackson and the Olympians - Rick Riordan
These books are widely popular, and for good reason. They’re action packed, funny, and full of characters that you’ll love. Percy Jackson finds out that he is a demigod (half-god) and is sent to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods like him. Follow along as Percy and his friends go on quests to save Camp Half-Blood and the world! These are such a fun read, and you’ll learn all about Greek mythology along the way.
Pandava Quartet - Roshani Chokshi
This is another really fun series centered around mythology, only this time it’s Hindu mythology. 12-year-old Aru Shah accidentally releases an ancient demon from the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. It’s up to her to stop the demon from awakening the God of Destruction and save her mother and classmates. You’ll be laughing and rooting for Aru Shah from the first page!
What if there’s magic in our world…
These are books like Harry Potter, where magic is a part of our world, but us mere muggles don’t know anything about it.
Fablehaven - Brandon Mull
While on summer vacation, Kendra and Seth Sorenson find out that their grandparents are caretakers of Fablehaven, a preserve for all sorts of amazing magical creatures. But Fablehaven also houses monsters, and when Seth accidently releases some, he and Kendra have to find a way to save the preserve and their grandparents. This series builds from book to book as the stakes get higher and Kendra and Seth find themselves facing bigger adversaries.
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor
This is a captivating book with a magic system influenced by West Aftrican folklore. When Sunny Nwazue moves to Nigeria, she struggles to fit in because she’s American and albino. But when Sunny discovers she’s one of the Leopard People, she finds friends and a purpose, as she uses her new magical powers to defeat an evil man who’s kidnapping children. This story is high stakes and exciting with characters you’ll love!
What if there’s a whole new world…
These are fantasy stories that take place in entirely fictional worlds!
The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
This is another very popular fantasy series that’s been adapted into several movies. The Pevensie siblings stumble across a magical wardrobe which transports them to Narnia, a magical world full of talking animals, friendly satyrs, and a less than friendly White Witch. Follow along as Lucy, Edmond, Susan, and Peter save Narnia from the forces of evil!
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Grace Lin
In this book, there’s no need to travel to a magical world, you’re already in it! Minli lives in the valley of Fruitless Mountain where her family struggles to make a living farming. Inspired by her father’s fantastic bedtime stories, she embarks on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon to see if he can help her family. This is a beautiful and captivating story inspired by Chinese fairy tales!
I hope one of these books grabs your interest or makes you wonder about new, magical places! If you’re interested in fantasy, you can start with any or none of these books. Reading is supposed to be fun. What’s important is that you read whatever excites you!