Back to Children's Fantasy

MacBeth's Opinion on:

Fantasy for the Mid-grades and High School


It seems that most fantasy fits in here.  Once we get past fairy tales, and we look for novels, here we are!  Here we find some of the best of the genre...even Tolkien, wrote some books for the middle grades.  Fantasy greats like E. Nesbit, C. S. Lewis, and George MacDonald shine here...and you'll find some lesser known authors, too!

City of Ember is a top-rate sci-fi adventure for the mid-grades.  At 12, Lena and Doon have graduated from school and have been assigned jobs...but supplies are running low in the City of Ember, the only world they know.  Will the solve the problem before it's too late, and the city goes dark forever?



The Hobbit (leather bound, with Tolkien's own illustrations; this is the edition I own)


Farmer Giles of Ham

C. S. Lewis:

The Chronicles of Narnia (the complete tales, but out of original order; the illustrations are colored beautifully)Audio version, complete and unabridged!

 Edward Eager:

Half Magic, Magic by the Lake, Magic of Not?, Seven-Day Magic, The Well-Wishers, Knight's Castle, The Time Garden

E Nesbit:

The Enchanted Castle, Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Story of the Amulet (recommended with reservations; to be read critically), Wet Magic, The Magic City, The Magic World (short stories), The Complete Book of Dragons, The House of Arden

George MacDonald:

The Light Princess, The Golden Key, The Princess and the Goblin, Princess and Curdie, At the Back of the North Wind

Jane Langton:

The Diamond in the Window, The Swing in the Summerhouse, The Fledgling

Elizabeth Enright:

Thimble Summer, Tatsinda,

Lloyd Alexander:

The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, The High King, plus, see Lloyd Alexander's short stories of Prydain in The Foundling

Susan Cooper:

Over Sea, Under Stone (the best of the series...may be read without the others)  The other books in the Dark is Rising Sequence have some problems...but are overall a great read.  Read my review, and reserve these as a read-aloud, to discuss potential symbolic issues with the kids.


Tuck Everlasting (the soundtrack from the movie is beautiful!)


A Wrinkle in Time, The Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Norton Juster:

The Phantom Tollbooth, The Dot and the Line (fantastic mathematical "love story" for all ages)

Mary Norton:

The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft (classic tale of little people...available on audio tape, too!)


The Secret of the Ruby Ring, Emma and the Ruby Ring, Quest of the Ruby Ring, Martha and the Ruby Ring (Irish time-travel fantasy)


Peter Pan, BBC Radio Play Peter Pan


Tom's Midnight Garden

Lewis Carroll:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (both in one edition)

Tove Jansson:

Finn Family Moomintroll, Comet in Moominland, Moominlnad Midwinter, Moominsummer Madness, Moominpapa at Sea, Tales from Moomin Valley (these delightfully funny tales are translated from the Finnish and take place in and around Finland--unique!)

Eleanor Cameron:

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet, Time and Mr. Bass (the latter may be too creepy for young children)


Young Adult Fantasy


Basically, I found two different kinds of books here--the serious and the fun.  A few of the books are both.  The most difficult task here was in finding books that are acceptable.   While there are some excellent books out there, the garbage books far outnumber them.  Choose carefully.

Niahm the Hermit by Emily Snyder (Catholic fantasy!!)

The Weka-Feather Cloak (Catholic fantasy based in New Zealand)

Lord of the Rings (leather bound, this book is for keeps)

The Silmarillion

Harding's Luck (read this for an example of how E. Nesbit's socialist world-view influenced her writing)

Watership Down

Ella Minnow Pea

1001 Arabian Nights



Out of the Silent Planet


That Hideous Strength


The best juvenile (and not so juvenile) Sci-fi classics--good, clean adventure, and a little bit of politics!

The High Crusade  Catholic; crusaders clash with aliens, and the galaxy is surprised!

The Red Planet (boys on Mars)

Citizen of the Galaxy (boy in slavery--my personal favorite)

The Star Beast (boy and his pet...alien)

Ingathering: The Complete People stories (Forget the 70s movie--spiritually uplifting) 


Back to Children's Fantasy