Booklist: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Dystopian

As I work on this quarantine project of posting lists of the books we’ve read over the years, I have put off this particular collection. Fantasy, and those other similar genres like science fiction and dystopian, is such a huge category in children’s and young adult literature these days and so much of it is so bad.  But fantasy itself is something I support. Books which take us to other, completely fictional worlds with different rules than our own often have a lot to say about the real world. I am trying to edit this list as I go and to give you only that best, or at least to provide honest assessments. I am sure there are many more which could be added to this list but here are some of our favorite fantasy and dystopian books.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Dystopian Books

Adams, Douglas. Hitchhiker’s Guide (series) and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (series). We love these books. They are a bit atheistic. Dirk Gently is probably less so. Teens.

Alcock, Vivien. The Stonewalkers. Older book about statues that come to life. Middle years.

Alexander, Lloyd. Time Cat, Arkadians, and Prydian (series). Alexander is a good author. Elementary-middle years.

Babbitt, Natalie. Search for Delicious. Not sure of the quality of this one my daughter read. Middle years.

Baker, E.D. Frog Princess (series). I am not sure they are great but my daughter liked them. If you have a girl that insists on princess stories, they are probably a safe choice. Middle years.

Banks, Lynne Reid. Fairy Rebel and Indian in the Cupboard (series). Elementary-middle years.

Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan. Classic fantasy. Middle years.

Bode, N.E. Anybodies (series). My daughter loved these. Middle years.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. I read this one aloud to my high schoolers (yes! you can still do read alouds with high schoolers, and you get to do more meaty books). It is a fairly slim book and we all enjoyed it. I do edit some as I read for mature content but I don’t think this one had much. Teens.

Bradbury, Ray. Martian Chronicles (series). We actually only listened to the first one but they seem to wonderful older sci-fi with nothing disturbing or mature. Middle-teens.

Buckley, Michael. Sisters Grimm (series). The whole family loved this series in which fairytale characters play a major role. Teens (but we did them as audio books much younger).

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. Rackety-Packety House. Dolls come alive. From the author of The Little Princess. Elementary.

Cameron, Eleanor. Court of the Stone Children. Statues coming alive is a popular plot. Middle years.

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander (series). My son loved this series. Teens.

DiCamillo, Kate. Magician’s Elephant. Elementary-middle years.

DuPrau, Jeanne. City of Ember. Dystopian. For a modern book this was is decent. It is written for a slightly younger crowd than ost dystopian I think. There is a series but I can only vouch for the first one. Middle years.

Eager, Edward. The Well-Wishers and Half-Magic. Middle years.

Farris, Jean. Once Upon a Marigold (series). Another okay one if you have a girl that insists on princesses. Middle years.

Funke, Cornelia. Inkheart (series). My boys liked these. A four book trilogy (I know, it bothers me too). Teens.

Gannett, Ruth. My Father’s Dragon (series). Wonderful chapter book level choice. Elementary.

Grahame, Kenneth. The Reluctant Dragon. Another good elementary choice. Elementary.

Hale, Shannon. Goose Girl. My daughter liked these. Middle years.

Ibbotson, Eva. Secret of Platform 13. Ibbotson is prolific. Elementary-middle years.

Jinks, Catherine. How to Catch a Bogle (series). We loved these. Middle years.

LaFevers, R.M. Theodosia (series). My son liked these. Not sure of the quality. Middle years.

Langton, Jane. Astonishing Stereoscope. Middle years.

LeGuin, Ursula. Catwings (series). Elementary-middle.

Lewis, C.S. Narnia Chronicles  (series). Classic Christian fantasy. Young children will not get all the imagery and that’s okay. Let them get what they can from it. Elementary-teens.

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Award-winning dystopian. Middle years +.

Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. This is a wonderful, thought-provoking sci-fi book but it does have mature content. Teens.

MacDonald, George. The Light PrincessThe Princess and Curdie, and The Princess and the Goblin. Another Christian writer. Elementary-middle.

Mayne, William. Hob Stories (series). We loved Hob. Elementary.

Meloy, Colin. Wildwood (series). My son liked these. Not sure of the quality. Middle-teens.

Nesbit, E. Enchanted Castle and Psammead (series). Nesbit is wonderful. Middle years.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. A great first dystopian book because there is no mature content and with animals as the main characters it can appeal to a lot of ages. We used it for literature study (see here). Middle years +.

Riordan, Rick. Kane Chronicles and Percy Jackson. Mythological characters. We liked these when we listened to them though I hear later books get more sexual and not necessarily in traditional ways. Teens.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter (series). I know there are mixed feelings on such things. I am okay with positing a world of magic, even if it is ostensibly within this real world. My boys loved these books and read them again and again. Middle years+.

Selfors, Suzanne. To Catch a Mermaid and Fortune’s Magic Farm. My daughter liked these. Not sure of the quality. Middle years.

Sendak, Maurice. Brundibar. Dystopian picture book from the author of Where the Wild Things Are. I love this book. Elementary+.

Selznick, Brian. Invention of Hugo Cabaret. Wonderful book. Elementary-middle.

Slobodkin, Louis. Round Trip Spaceship. Wonderful older author. Elementary-middle.

Thurber, James. Thirteen Clocks. Wonderful. Elementary-middle.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (series). More classic Christian fantasy. Middle years +. Look also for his lesser known books which tend to be easier: Smith of Wootton MajorLeaf by Niggle, and Roverandom.

Ursu, Anne. Breadcrumbs. My daughter liked this. Not sure of the quality. Middle years.

White, T.H. Mistress Masham’s Repose. Wonderful older book. Middle years.

Wilson, N.T. 100 Cupboards (series). I have been told he is a Christian. Elementary-middle.

What would you add to this list?

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