According to the National Education Association children who are read to at home have a higher success rate at school. Reading extensively also increases a child's vocabulary. Children's fantasy series' allow readers to be transported to other worlds and escape the predictability of everyday life. Below, I've compiled a list of the best fantasy books for kids. My choices are based on the strength of the writing, the overall popularity of the series and the cultural significance and impact of the series. Strong writing is writing in which the plot and characters come together to create an unforgettable story. Thus, every book on this list has at least one character that transcends the book series and has become a cultural icon.
This series is a collection of thirteen books for young readers. Daniel Handler published the books under his pen name, Lemony Snicket. The books follow the story of the Baudelaire children, whose parents died in a fire. They are sent to live with a relative named Count Olaf, who turns out to be a selfish, murderous man out to steal the children's inheritance. Throughout the series, the children work to fend off Olaf while also attempting to solve the mystery of their parents' deaths. The books, often labeled as dark humor, contain memorable characters, namely Olaf, who delights and mystifies young readers.
The Never-Ending Story was written by Michael Ende in the late 1970's. The original book's protagonist, Bastian, steals a book from an antique bookstore. The stolen book is called The Never-Ending Story, and it is set in a magical place called Fantastica. As he reads, Bastian becomes part of the story, mirroring how readers often feel when immersed in a make-believe world. Ultimately, Bastian's choices decide how the story progresses. Riding on the coattails of the original book's success, the publishing house released six additional novels by various authors based on the world of Fantastica. The series has also inspired computer games, a television series and a series of films, most notably the 1984 film directed by Wolfgang Petersen.
This is an immensely popular two-book series written by Roald Dahl. Dahl planned to write a third book, but unfortunately, it never came to fruition. Of the two existing books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, originally published in 1964, is the most well-known. The book follows the story of Charlie Bucket, who finds a golden ticket in a chocolate wrapper. This ticket is one of five such tickets that allow people to tour the Willa Wonka chocolate factory. Charlie takes his grandfather along for the tour. The two of them are awed by the whimsical sights, sounds, and smells of the factory. The 1971 film adaptation, starring Gene Wilder, is a classic.
7. Peter Rabbit
Peter, a lively and adventurous rabbit, was first introduced to the world by Beatrix Potter in her 1902 book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter published five subsequent books in which Peter appeared. In the first book, Peter sneaks into Mr. McGregor's vegetable garden, where he gorges on vegetables until McGregor chases him out. Children and adults will admire the simple storytelling as well as Peter's relationships with his sisters and friends. The books have inspired several animated series as well as a popular biopic about their creator. The books saw a resurgence in popularity when English actress Emma Thompson published The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit in 2012.
6. Oz Series
Some people may be surprised to find that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) is the first installment in a series of fourteen books. It's plot, made famous by an American classic film, focuses on Dorothy, a Kansas girl who is sucked into a tornado along with her dog Toto. The two set off on a journey down the yellow brick road in which they come into contact with three strangers they soon befriend: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. The 1939 film starring Judy Garland is perhaps the most famous adaptation, though the book has also inspired Broadway musicals, comics, and several other films. L. Frank Baum, the series creator, was a prolific writer who also wrote poems, short stories, and more than fifty books.
5. Peter Pan
Peter Pan is J.M. Barrie's classic novel about a young boy who never grows up. Pan leads a group called the Lost Boys as they go on numerous adventures involving pirates, mermaids, and other mythical creatures. Peter Pan first appeared in 1902 in Barrie's novel The Little White Bird. Barrie went on to write other works, but they were overshadowed by the character of Peter Pan. Popular themes in this series are the innocence of childhood and unconditional acceptance, both of which can be discussed and appreciated by young readers and adult readers. J.M. Barrie's life and the family who influenced him to write Peter Pan were the subjects of a 2004 film in which Johnny Depp played Barrie. Peter Pan has also been adapted into numerous feature films.
Winnie the Pooh is one of the world's best-known anthropomorphic creatures. Milne actually named Winnie the Pooh after his son's stuffed bear. Christopher Robin, the author's real-life son, is the model for the character in the books. The first book in the series, titled Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) is a classic and widely considered one of the best fantasy books for kids. The books focus on Winnie and his adventures in Ashdown Forest with his assortment of witty animal friends. The books have been translated into Latin and Russian. Streets around the world have been named after Pooh. And, of course, the books have been made into several full-length movies and animated series. Though the series is nearly a century old, modern-day merchandisers still capitalize on Winnie the Pooh stuffed bears and T-shirts.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are the two books that make up one of the best-known children's book series of all-time. Both written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, (aka Lewis Carroll) the books were originally published in the 19th century and still remain popular with children today. In the first book, Alice falls down a rabbit hole and into a fantasy world full of anthropomorphic creatures. In the second book, she goes through a mirror and into another fantasy world. The books contain some of the most memorable characters in literature, including Humpty Dumpty, the Hatter and the Cheshire Cat, The author was a mathematician, and some scholars believe the characters and situations represent certain mathematical concepts. Thus, the books, while written in a simple style, contain symbols and layers of meaning that make for good discussion by both adults and children.
This series of seven books by British author, C.S. Lewis, is one of the best-known children's book series of all-time. Now translated into more than 40 languages, the books were originally published in the 1950s and have sold over 100 million copies. The books' central focus is on various children from the real world who are transported to a fantasy land called Narnia. Narnia is inhabited by mythical creatures, including a talking lion called Aslan. The author was an avid reader of Greek and Roman mythology and was also heavily influenced by Celtic fairy tales. The books have, of course, inspired numerous stage adaptations and several features films, most notably a 2005 film that grossed over 400 million dollars.
1. Harry Potter
The 7-book Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is the best-selling book series of all time. The series focuses on Potter and his friends at The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The novels are beloved by children as well as adults. Series author, J.K. Rowling, became a household name after successfully publishing the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in 1997. The books have also been praised by critics, though some criticize their dark themes, especially in the latter books. In 2007 when the last of the books was published, fans waited in a frenzy to buy copies. Some fans who were not native English speakers bought the English version of the books simply because they didn't want to wait for the translations. The Harry Potter brand is one of the most recognized in the literary world. Several high-grossing films have been produced along with a number of theme park attractions, dolls, clothes and toys.