As I wrote yesterday, Harry Potter books (and movies) can be pretty scary and intense for younger children. If your child is intrigued by magic and fantasy, but you’re not certain she or he is quite ready for Hogwarts, here are a few fantasy titles they may be more comfortable with.
(Click on the titles to see full reviews.)
Top 5: Beginner Fantasy Chapter Books
1. The Cuckoo Clock by Mrs. Molesworth – age 5+
A very sedate and old-fashioned (1877) story about a girl who visits some magical places and learns to behave herself a little better.
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – age 5+
Quite different from the movie – a rambling, weird tale with a few scares and dustups along the way. (NB. some violence: see full review.)
3. Half Magic by Edward Eager – age 5+
One of my childhood favourites. This and other titles by Eager are lovely stories about children who come across something magic and mess things up a little. Slightly old-fashioned but charming and full of insight about sibling relations.
4. The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit – age 6+
Snappy and very funny short stories, each about a very unique dragon.
5. The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit – age 6+
Nesbit books like The Enchanted Castle and Five Children and It inspired Edward Eager’s work, and are similarly about children who acquire some kind of magic and mismanage it with amusing or chilling results. This title in particular has one very creepy sequence.
And Two bonus titles… Rather long and wordy, only for the most hardy listeners (and readers).
6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – age 6+
Find an abridged version if you can. (But NOT a Disney version!) The plot is captivating, but the original novel is a very dense read, and tangled with tangents.
7. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald – age 6+
Goblins living under a mountain plot to kidnap a Princess, but she is aided by the ghost of her great-great-great grandmother and a courageous miner boy. Another very old classic, creepy and intriguing, but a trifle loooong and slow to get going. (Not sure if there are any abridged versions out there.)
As you can tell, my tastes go to the older, classic novels. I must start reading some newer books!
If you have any suggestions for early fantasy books, new or old, please share them!