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[PARENTS] Classic Fantasy Books for Preteen Kids (and their Parents)

Kids Fantasy Books| Readorium

Here at Readorium, we love books for kids. While we focus on nonfiction related to Science, we adore fiction and understand that fictional stories are engaging and valuable for children to read. We’re also huge fans of the fantasy and science-fiction genres (which can actually promote scientific thinking).

Modern children’s literature is filled with the fantastical. From Harry Potter to the Hunger Games, current writers have dreamed up innumerable worlds of magic and mystery for children to inhabit.

But what of the forgotten classics? In addition to exposing kids to older (and sometimes more syntactically complex) writing styles, encouraging children to read books contemporary to our own childhoods keep these writers and their magical worlds alive and relevant. So Readorium decided to suggest three examples of classic fantasy books that you can read along with your preteens, and perhaps have interesting discussions about.

1) Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)

Kids Fantasy Books| ReadoriumA tale of rabbits escaping their doomed warren for a promised lapine haven. Adam’s story is remarkable for its creation of a whole rabbit culture, with its own mythology, folklore and linguistic conventions. Adventurous and epic, Watership Down is nevertheless unafraid of approaching images and scenes that, while beautiful, are simultaneously frightening and tragic.

Would that the dead were not dead! But there is grass that must be eaten, pellets that must be chewed, hraka that must be passed, holes that must be dug, sleep that must be slept.


What you can discuss with your kids:

  • Death and what that means.
  • The hero’s journey, and its prevalence in literature.
  • Leadership and responsibility.
  • Exile, refugees and being an outsider.


2) The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit (1907)

Kids Fantasy Books| ReadoriumA charming, pastoral story of three children who discover a sleeping princess and a magic ring in an English castle. At times laugh-out-loud funny, The Enchanted Castle weaves together fantasy and matter-of-fact realism to create a wonderful read by one of the classic masters of children’s fantasy.  The slightly older language style will be an excellent challenge for today’s young readers, and adults may appreciate the subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) digs at classism and the aristocracy.

“Aunt Emily says grown-ups never really like playing. They do it to please us.”

“They little know,” Gerald answered, “how often we do it to please them.”

What you can discuss with your kids:

  • What life in Europe was like at the turn of the century.
  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Taking responsibility for problems you create.
  • Family.

3) Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)

Kids Fantasy Books| ReadoriumForget the Miyazaki movie (which is arguable, still pretty good), storytelling maestro Diana Wynne Jones blends political subterfuge, everyday dilemmas and magical mayhem into a complexly layered yet utterly delicious and approachable stew featuring flying castles, jealous witches, and powerful wizards, but also a woman who talks to hats, and fire demon who hates cooking bacon, and some really hard to use magical boots. Particularly impressive are the very real and flawed characters who Jones takes pleasure to introduce us to.

It is quite a risk to spank a wizard for getting hysterical about his hair.

What you can discuss with your kids:

  • You can decide for yourself what you want to do with your life.
  • Self-esteem.
  • What it means to be free.
  • Physical appearance and prejudice.


[Main image from Wikimedia Commons, book covers from GoodReads]


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