Share these fantasy series with your students.

Fantasy is a great genre to use in your classroom. Students love the magic and wonder of stories like The Hobbit or Harry Potter.

But setting aside Tolkien and Rowling, there’s a whole slew of fantasy ripe for the picking, but where should we start?

Whether using them as part of a lesson, or adding them to your library, here are a few recommendations of fantasy books and series to try with your students.

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1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

When Sophie Hatter is cursed by a witch and turned into an old woman, she leaves her home to find a way to break the curse. She starts working as a cleaning lady for Howl, a mysterious, powerful wizard, and makes a deal with Howl’s resident fire demon. The demon will break the curse on her, if she can break the curse between himself and Howl.

This book is great because:

  • It has great comedy.
  • It deals with ideas of pacifism and violence.
  • The world is wonderfully creative and unique.

2. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Smedry has a unique talent for breaking almost anything he touches. On his thirteenth birthday, he receives a package from his parents containing his inheritance–a bag of sand. But after the sand is stolen and he meets an old man claiming to be his grandfather, Alcatraz must embark on a journey to recover the sand from the secret organization that rules the world–the Librarians.

This book is great because:

  • It’s a great example of a well developed magic system, where seemingly useless abilities become incredibly unique.
  • It has themes of self-acceptance, as what characters initially believe to be flaws end up becoming their greatest strengths.
  • It’s just plain funny.

3. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ged has incredible magic potential, enough to become one of the most skilled magicians in Earthsea. Not long after he begins to study magic and after a few spells gone wrong, Ged finds himself being pursued by an evil shadow. Ged must travel across the land to hone his magic and to learn the true name of the shadow in order to defeat it.

This book is great for:

  • An easy example of a modern epic.
  • Students who love myths and fairy stories.
  • A great sample for a coming of age story.

4. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Moist von Lipwig is dead. At least, that’s the last thing he remembers before being offered the job of Postmaster General of Ankh-Morpork. However, upon arriving at the post office, he’s greeted by mountains of pigeon dung, one ancient Junior Postman, and his assistant. In order to rebuild the post office to what it once was, Moist has to pull out all the tricks he learned as a con artist, prior to his “death.”

This book is great because:

  • It is absolutely hysterical.
  • It has themes of identity and the power of belief and hope.
  • It is a great introduction to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasy series

5. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

While out hunting one night, Eragon finds a strange stone in the mountains. Taking it home with him, he discovers that it is a dragon egg, one of the last in the world, and that he has been chosen as a Dragon Rider. To escape the evil king hunting his dragon, Eragon leaves his village. He travels with Brom, the last survivor of the ancient group of Dragon Riders, slowly learning what it is to be a new Rider.

This story is great because:

  • Magic in this fantasy series works through using words in the Ancient Language, and there are several fictional languages (complete with glossaries!) used throughout the series.
  • There are strong themes of identity and fate.
  • While each book in the series is long, they are easy to get invested in, making it much easier for students to speed through them.

6. Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

Charlie Bone discovers that he has a gift. He can hear people talking in photographs. His family sends him to Bloor’s Academy, where he meets other children with similarly strange gifts. He soon finds himself tangled in a conspiracy, trying to uncover the secret past of one of his classmates that some people would rather stayed hidden.

This series is great because:

  • Character’s abilities are unique and extremely creative, and evolve over the course of the series.
  • It has a unique take on the tropes of good vs. evil.
  • Despite the main cast revolving around the students with gifts, it blurs the line between magical gifts and learned talents.

7. Redwall by Brian Jacques

When Redwall Abbey is attacked by an infamous rat bandit and his army, it falls to Matthias, a novice monk, to help lead their defense. But when he starts seeing visions of the Abbey’s legendary protector, Martin the Warrior, Matthias decides that he must find Martin’s long lost sword in order to fight off their attackers.

Students will like this book because:

  • The characters are all animals, creating a unique relationship between species not present in other fantasy.
  • It’s a great example of a Chosen One narrative.
  • This is the first book in a fantasy series of twenty-two, making it perfect for eager readers.

8. The Lightning Thief and the sequel series by Rick Riordan

Perseus “Percy” Jackson is a pretty normal, slightly dysfunctional 12 year-old. Until, that is, he learns that he is the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the ocean. This discovery comes at the same time as Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and he believes Percy is responsible. In order to clear his name, Percy and his friends travel across the country to visit Hades, who they believe to be the true culprit.

Your students will love this because:

  • This is the start of a multi-series storyline that your students won’t be able to stop themselves from blazing through.
  • It works as a perfect sample text for the hero’s journey.
  • There are graphic novel adaptations of the whole series. If you want ideas on how to teach graphic novels, I have a post on just that!

9. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

At 12 years old, Artemis Fowl II is among the greatest criminal masterminds in the world. His latest plan involves kidnapping Holly Short, a fairy, and holding her ransom. But Artemis may have overplayed his hand. The fairies’ special forces are ready to start an inter-species war to get Holly back and make Artemis regret crossing them.

This story is great because:

Why fantasy series?

Getting students hooked on a series is a great way to keep them reading!

Once students get to know the characters, jumping into another book in the series is easy! The barrier for learning about new characters, setting, and events goes waaay down.

Try reading one of the series aloud to your class. Even just the first chapter or two will help them get into the story.

Fantasy makes a great genre for book clubs as well.

Give them a try!

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