Children love a good story, but getting children to read new books, especially after being forced to read uninteresting tales in school, can be difficult. One genre that is likely to interest them is fantasy. But, not all fantasy novels are geared towards children. Series like Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time are long and heavy reads, while A Song of Ice and Fire is simply too graphic for most children. Even classic “children’s” tales like the Narnia series delve rather deeply into adult-level symbolism. If you are trying to introduce a child or young teen to fantasy, the following series are perfect for this task.
Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – This series is basically classic fantasy. It has wizards and warriors, elves and dwarves, and most importantly, dragons. Solid pacing and a careful ramp up of action keeps the story manageable throughout the series. Furthermore, the villains in the series are accessible and exciting. Most importantly, though, the story has enough comic relief mixed in to keep it from ever getting too heavy and rather than glorifying violence, the series actually depicts it as an unfortunate act.
Myth Adventures by Robert Lynn Asprin – This adventure fantasy series is comedy gold. Besides never taking itself seriously, it continually violates the fourth wall in order to bring the reader further into the story. It isn’t traditional fantasy exactly, but covers all of the standard fantasy clichés while also exploring the clichés of other genres like noir and science fiction. The books are short and very light, making them easy for children of all ages.
Xanth Series by Piers Anthony – Xanth is a magical world exists just slightly out of synch with the real world. This concept allows author Piers Anthony to fill his fantastical tales with any number of oddly translated real world references and puns. Quicksand for example is sand that makes you move more quickly and tulips (two-lips) are flowers that kiss you. This humorous take is prevalent in the books and keeps things light, even when the series explores topics like coming of age or reproduction. Every heavy topic in the series is handled with respect for the age of the audience and humor to keep it light. The series is over 30 books long, which means if you can manage to addict your child, there is plenty for them to read.
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling – The modern fantasy classic is a great way to get children to read fantasy. First, children are aware of it and generally will be more open to trying to read a series they are familiar with. Second, the story grows with the reader. The earliest books are written at a lower reading level and deal with much lighter topics. The topics get heavier and grander as the series progresses, as does the writing. Unfortunately, Rowling simply isn’t as proficient an author as any of the previously mentioned authors, so even the final book is a tad juvenile and filled with tropes and clichés. Still, most children won’t recognize this and the series is a good stepping stone for getting them to read better fantasy in the future.