Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fantasy Fiction for Kids

A follow up to yesterday's post - I try to have a good-sized stock of books at home for reading with the kiddos.  My daughter is still in the Ramona and Beezus and The Magic Tree House period, but my son has been hearing (and reading) fantasy for a while.

He's read a few series to himself - The Spiderwick Chronicles, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and a few odds and ends, like How to Train Your Dragon.  He recently took on The Hobbit.  Although the Percy Jackson series is a Potter knock-off, it's about right for an 8 year old to work through by themselves - not too difficult, and he did learn a bit about Greek myth along the way.

We enforce some time each night where one of us reads to the kids, so we've been able to read a number of kid-oriented books.  A few of the recent ones included the 7-book Harry Potter series, the Bartimaeus Trilogy, and Fablehaven (5 books).

The first Bartimaeus book (The Amulet of Samarkand) is on the way to being a movie; it was an interesting series, but a little bit over the head of a kid.  It's an alternate world ruled by the British Empire, and the Empire is openly ruled by magicians, and magicians work by summoning Djinn and making the Djinn go and do the dirty work.  There's a lot of politics and skullduggery; in hindsight I'd recommend it for older kids and not the 7-8 range when we read it.

Fablehaven is a recent series that turned out to be just fine.  Written slightly better than Percy Jackson and Co, the series is an urban fantasy, where mystical creatures live on secret magical "wildlife preserves", safe from the mundane world of non-believers.  The bad-guy group, the 'Society of the Evening Star', is seeking to return magic to the world by opening a demon prison, overthrowing the preserves, and ushering a new dark age.  The major story arc involves a race to recover a series of artifacts.  All the books beyond the first one feature interesting dungeon crawls, plenty of traps in said dungeons, and all sorts of mythological creatures.  Good inspiration for a youthful D&Der.

We're at the point that we can start moving into books that are considered a bit more "classic - the Chronicles of Narnia, The Golden Compass, A Wrinkle in Time, stuff like that.  We're starting with Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series.

Tom Moldvay placed some 'Young Adult Fantasy' suggestions in the back of the Basic book - some he lists include John Bellairs The Face in the Frost, Alan Garner The Weirdstone, Ursula K Le Guin's Earthsea - does anyone have experience with those authors and can make a recommendation?

There are plenty of dads (and hopefully a few moms) playing D&D with their kids, hope these give you some ideas!