Fantasy/adventure fiction for young children

Hi all,

My nine-year old daughter loves The Hobbit, I have read it to her three times already. She has asked me to find other similar books that she would enjoy. But I am finding it more difficult than I expected, and wonder if some people on this forum can help.

We have already read the Chronicles of Narnia, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which is a sort of fantasy). She enjoyed them.

I started reading one of the "Princess and Curdie" books by George MacDonald, but it bored her, I guess the writing style is too out-of-date. Same problem with The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. She will probably enjoy both of those when she is older.

I started The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (predecessor to The Black Cauldron) but she found it too frightening. The thing she loves about The Hobbit is that there is plenty of action, magic, adventure and so forth, but it is all written in a light tone with plenty of joking asides to the reader, which keeps it from becoming too scary. I have not started her on The Lord of the Rings partly because I think it would also be frightening to her in places, plus the fact that her attention span is not long enough yet.

I might read A Wrinkle in Time to her (one of my favorites as a child) but the spirituality is rather syncretistic and I want to wait until she is older, and better able to discern the good from the bad in that area.

I would be grateful if anyone has suggestions.

You might check out the various Redwall books by Brian Jacques, and maybe the series that starts with Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede.

James and the Giant Peach
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Children of the Lamp (series)
The Lightening Theif (series)
Alice in Wonderland.

I just read the Series of Unfortunate Events and really liked them. They can be a bit dark (it is about unfortunate events after all), but it has a lot of humorous asides as well.

II also just picked up The Mysterious Benedict Society and have enjoyed them so far. They seem along the same lines as the Series of Unfortunate Events.

I LOVE the Inkheart books, but they may be a bit old for her. Their author, Cornelia Funke, has a number of books aimed at slightly younger kids though, Dragon Rider and Igraine The Brave.

I really, really loved The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. When I was a kid I checked that book out of the library so many it got to be a little ridiculous. Now, as an adult I finally bought myself a copy and I still pick it up and read it every now and then. The movie was good but the novel was incredible.

How about the Once and Future King trilogy by T.H. White? It's a retelling of the Arthurian legend (the Disney adaptation was THE SWORD IN THE STONE, the trilogy was also adapted for Broadway as CAMELOT). It's been a while since I read them, and of course the two follow-on books have the whole Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle, but the first novel, "The Sword in the Stone" would probably be fine for her age (maybe read it yourself, first. It's a true classic of fantasy.) She might also like "Mistress Masham's Repose" (about a girl who finds a hidden colony of Lilliputians in London), and "The Elephant and the Kangaroo" (a humorous look at Noah's Ark).

She might like L. Frank Baum's OZ series, especially if she liked the movie.

Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows" was wonderful, she might also like Grahame's "The Reluctant Dragon."

Carol Kendall wrote two books about the Minipins, Hobbit-like creatures, in "The Gammage Cup" (1959) and "The Whisper of Glocken" (1965) won the Newberry award for children's lit and are probably a good bet for your daughter, with themes of being yourself and personal courage.

James Thurber, the famous cartoonist for the New Yorker, wrote some wonderful humorous fantasy books for children, full of wordplay and warm humor - check out "The Thirteen Clocks" and especially "The White Deer," a quest with wizards and dwarves, and a beautiful girl who's a deer, or a dear. "The Wonderful O" is also good.

You might also take a look at two of J.R.R. Tolkien's lesser-known shorter works: "Farmer Giles of Ham" and "Smith of Wooten Major."

P.L. Travers' s Mary Poppin books are also enjoyable, the original Poppins is very different than Julie Andrews!

Most anything by Dianne Wynne Jones, noteably The Chronicles of Chrestomanci and Howl's Moving Castle.

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell. She also has two sequels hat are wonderful.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemmony Snickett.

Harry Potter by J K Rowling

Second on “The Phantom Tollbooth”. I LOVED that book when I was about 9-10.

Another one I liked at that age, sort of fantasy/sci-fi-ish, is “Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH”.

Some others that I remember enjoying from about 4th grade, with sort of an adventure feel, were - “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, “The Black Pearl”, “My Side of the Mountain” (might be too boyish…), “The Cay”, “Lassie Come Home”, “Sign of the Beaver”, “The White Mountains”. Several of those may be a bit more boyish than a 9 year old girl would enjoy, but I don’t know. I vaguely remember “Mrs Piggle Wiggle” as well, which is sort of fantasy of the Mary Poppins variety as I recall.

On a more strictly adventure side of things, she might enjoy some 19th century stuff like “Around the World in 80 days” or “Treasure Island”, if something a little older is acceptable.

Does your child's school participate in the Accelerated Reader program?

You can use this site to search for all kinds of books, authors, subjects, etc. and it gives the reading level.

You can choose by grade, by awards, by author, by all sorts of things.

Not fantasy of course but she may like the Little House books. A more advanced read would be the Anne of Green Gables series and the Little Women books

Oh and Redwall is great. My kids love those books.

We tried Treasure Island *but my daughter at 11 or 12 found it boring. She did enjoy *The Prince and the Pauper though.
George MacDonald has some other books: At the Back of the North Wind, and a short story The Golden Key. *
I second *The Thirteen Clocks
and the White Deer.

When I was 8/9 I loved "Alanna" the first book in the 'Song of the Lioness' series by Tamora Pierce. It's about a 10 year old girl who hates the idea of being sent off to study magic so she swops places with her twin brother and goes to learn to be a knight - I had many brothers the plan really appealed to me:D. I loved it, it was my favourite book for years. If she liked the adventure of the Hobbit etc she'll like this.

You might want to check it first though, because one of the 'difficulties' she has is hiding her period as she gets older. I had read the book before my Mam got to it and I remember her taking me aside and showing me a pad and explaining it was quite normal (with an aside that she thought God should have designed it better) in case I was bothered by what I read. I hadn't been because I thought: if it's real then it happens to everyone and nothing to be bothered by and if it's not real (like magic) then it's nothing to be bothered by. I actually enjoyed the way it was done, she wakes up and thinks she's dying, has to find a secret healer (the ones at the palace don't know she's a girl) and then the big anti-climax.;)

As a child around 7 years of age or so (which is why I don't remember so clearly), I read arthurian tales. The particular, single one book I remember, although I've read it only once and only then (and I still remember the author!) was U. Waldo Cutler's, based on the Thomas Mallory version (15th century). There was nothing objectionable, Lancelot did penance and became a priest, Guinevere went to a convent (though they may have ended up buried together or something), Bors, Percival and Galahad went to fight in the Holy Land and died on Good Friday (which was a couple dozen years before Islam even started but heh).

Other things I read were stories about chivalric princes from my country (the royal family was branched out and everybody had some degree of sovereignty, so there was plenty of rulers) that I loved very much.

Celtic tales weren't bad but there was a lot of begetting sons out of wedlock and descriptions of wounds (or "food") were somewhat graphic. Still not as bad as Greek mythology.

Sir Walter Scott also did a fine job, as a couple of other writers from that same age. (Though I'd be careful with Dumas (the Musketeers and other books) since there are sexual scenes there that messed mr a little as a young teenager while reading (were easy to imagine and typically pretty sick).)

But be careful with that. I spent quite a couple of years regretting I couldn't somehow be transported to King Arthur's kingdom somehow and I've never fully recovered from that problem. :rolleyes:

Celtic tales weren't bad but there was a lot of begetting sons out of wedlock and descriptions of wounds (or "food") were somewhat graphic. Still not as bad as Greek mythology.

That is because the concept of wedlock as we understand it was not quite the same and the idea of children been 'bastards' would have been at odds with ancient Irish society from what we can see preserved of the laws that governed it. Although infidelity was recognised and considered wrong, although as there were many types of marriage in the Brehon code infidelity was judged in that context.

[quote="JharekCarnelian, post:15, topic:252832"]
That is because the concept of wedlock as we understand it was not quite the same and the idea of children been 'bastards' would have been at odds with ancient Irish society from what we can see preserved of the laws that governed it. Although infidelity was recognised and considered wrong, although as there were many types of marriage in the Brehon code infidelity was judged in that context.

[/quote]

I'm sorry, I wasn't precise. I mentioned illegitimate children but some potential problem in the case of a very young unsupervised reader could lie in certain positive heroes' transient relationships.

I recommend many of the book above, especially "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "A Series of Unfortunate Events!" I got into "Harry Potter" around age 9, but some that age might find it a bit scary.
I would also recommend:
- Edward Eager's Tales of Magic
-Eragon
-The Magic Treehouse

Thank you so much to everyone who posted suggestions! Some good ideas there.

God bless all.

Lewis

[quote="louisak, post:1, topic:252832"]
Hi all,

My nine-year old daughter loves The Hobbit, I have read it to her three times already. She has asked me to find other similar books that she would enjoy. But I am finding it more difficult than I expected, and wonder if some people on this forum can help.

We have already read the Chronicles of Narnia, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which is a sort of fantasy). She enjoyed them.

I started reading one of the "Princess and Curdie" books by George MacDonald, but it bored her, I guess the writing style is too out-of-date. Same problem with The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. She will probably enjoy both of those when she is older.

I started The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (predecessor to The Black Cauldron) but she found it too frightening. The thing she loves about The Hobbit is that there is plenty of action, magic, adventure and so forth, but it is all written in a light tone with plenty of joking asides to the reader, which keeps it from becoming too scary. I have not started her on The Lord of the Rings partly because I think it would also be frightening to her in places, plus the fact that her attention span is not long enough yet.

I might read A Wrinkle in Time to her (one of my favorites as a child) but the spirituality is rather syncretistic and I want to wait until she is older, and better able to discern the good from the bad in that area.

I would be grateful if anyone has suggestions.

[/quote]

How about something like Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. I think Don Quixote is good, but I'm not sure if a kid will understand it yet.

I personally like James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, but the language is kind of dense. The Spy by the same author is also good.

I like Alexandre Dumas as well. He wrote adventure stories. They aren’t really fantasies as they are based in the real world, although the events and characters are fictional.

I like Edgar Allan Poe as well. Some people think he is scary.

It really depends on how much you want to challenge your child to think and increase their reading comprehension skills. You can keep giving her the light stuff, but I think she will appreciate your efforts much more if you really push her to challenge herself with something more difficult.

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