[PARENTS & EDUCATORS] Millennial Fantasy Books for Kids

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”   -Dr Seuss

Monsters, magic, mysterious worlds and brave heroes have embroidered our stories since we started telling stories. Fantasy is as old as humanity itself, and every generation has woven its own voices into the tapestry of fantasy fiction. Here, we recommend some distinctly millennial fantasy books appropriate for middle- and high-school aged kids. Written in the 2000’s and stitching together urban life, diverse voices, and the critical self-awareness that threads the 21st century’s zeitgeist, these books are sure to captivate children’s imagination and spur in them a love of reading.

The Amulet of Samarkand, Jonathan Stroud

Millenial Fantasy Books | Readorium

Woman, man, mole, maggot – they’re all the same, when all’s said and done, except for slight variations in cognitive ability.

Set in an alternate-reality England where magicians use demons to subjugate the rest of the population, Jonathan Stroud’s excellent start to his acclaimed “Bartimaeus Trilogy” follows Nathaniel, an apprentice magician who summons the powerful demon Bartimaeus in a fit of vengeful furor. The star of the book, however is Bartimaeus himself, whose pointed observations on human greed and pettiness punctuate the story through wryly hilarious footnotes.

What you can discuss with your kids:

  • Magic, shortcuts and the price of power
  • Revenge and jealousy
  • Class struggles and oppression

Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

Millenial Fantasy Books | Readorium

Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.

Often compared to Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, Rainbow Rowell’s spin-off of her excellent “Fangirl” is part-homage, part-parody of the “school of magic” subgenre of fantasy fiction. Focusing on the final school year of boy-wizard and “Chosen One” Simon, Carry On is an exemplar of genre-savvy, gently self-deprecating humor, that nevertheless manages to deliver high adventure, authentic teenage emotions, and a healthy dose of (refreshingly queer) romance. While a little slow at the start and peppered with a few expletives, Carry On is charming, heartfelt, and quirky.

What you can discuss with your kids:

  • LGBT relationships
  • Ambition and how the desire to do good can be tainted
  • Feeling inadequate

Nimona, Noelle Stevenson

Millenial Fantasy Books | Readorium

You can’t just go round murdering people. There are rules, Nimona

Strong female characters, romance-turned-rivalry, weird powers and a wonderful science-fantasy universe: award-winning graphic novelist Noelle Stevenson stirs all these elements into a rich, satisfying story where villains and heroes confuse one for the other, friends break up and get back together, and a mysterious, magical girl named Nimona is definitely more than meets the eye.

What you can discuss with your kids:

  • Graphic forms of literature
  • Power and corruption
  • Friendship and the mending of broken relationships
  • Is violence ever the answer?

Further Reading:

Children’s Fantasy Literature: Why Escaping Reality is Good for Kids, Victoria Flanagan (The Conversation)

The Fantastic Appeal of Fantasy, Mark Chadbourn (The Telegraph)

Why Adults Are Drawn to Teenage Stories, Sharang Biswas (Kill Screen)

 

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