Do you struggle when choosing fantasy books for kids?

I am convinced that fantasy is a critically important part of nourishing my children’s imaginations, helping them to see and know the truth better than they could if they didn’t read it.

And yet. I struggle.

I never read much fantasy as a child, myself, and as an adult I have a hard time knowing which stories will nourish my children, and which are better to pass up. Navigating the world of fantasy can be tricky for people like me.

Today? We’re going to talk all about it. Join Carolyn Leiloglou and myself for a conversation about how to know which fantasy books are worth our time and what it really does for the mind and heart of a child.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • how to choose good fantasy books
  • the four kinds of stories
  • Carolyn’s favorite read-aloud!

P.S. Want the booklist I mention at the beginning of this podcast? Yeah. Thought so. :) Click here to be the first to get it when we release it next month.

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Episode 41
The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the Swan

FROM SARAH:

You may know E.B. White best from Charlotte's Web or Stuart Little, but his delightful storytelling shines in this book, which beautifully describes both the natural world, and the nature of friendship. Get a free Family Book Club Guide to go with it right here.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him.

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Matilda

Matilda

*Description from Amazon: “The Trunchbull” is no match for Matilda!Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she's just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she su...

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The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Good, evil; battles, betrayals; this classic series begins with either The Magician’s Nephew, or The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (depending on who you ask!). There are 7 books in all -- one filled with more adventure and fantasy than the next.

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The Green Ember

The Green Ember

FROM SARAH:

A Read-Aloud Revival community favorite. Rabbits with Swords! This story will inspire heroic virtue in your children (and who knows... maybe you too!). This is first in a truly wonderful fantasy series. Your kids can meet author S.D. Smith at his Author Access video replay in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

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Redwall (Redwall, Book 1)

Redwall (Redwall, Book 1)

FROM SARAH:

Redwall Abbey is a quiet and peaceful place, just as the mice like it. But an evil one-eyed rat wants ownership of the abbey. An unlikely hero emerges in this action packed tale, which might be a good pick for fans of The Green Ember.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

The question in this first volume is resoundingly clear: What can the peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey do to defend themselves against Cluny the Scourge and his battle-seasoned army of rats?

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Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

$14.99

*Description from Amazon: All of us want to raise good kids. And we want to be good parents. But what exactly do we mean by “good?” And is “being good” really the point?Mother-daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson contend that every way we try to make our kids “good” is simply an extension of Old T...

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The Mystery of the Homeless Treasure (Home School Detectives)

The Mystery of the Homeless Treasure (Home School Detectives)

$5.00
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 1
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: Follow the fast-paced adventure of Billy, Rebecca, Josh, Emily and the rest, as the Home School Detectives overcome false leads and follow clues to the exciting conclusion in one of John Bibee's adventures for young readers.

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

A classic about an orphan who struggles to adjust to her new life until she discovers a secret garden. Excellent for all ages. Look for the one with illustrations by Tasha Tudor!

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100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, Bk 1)

100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, Bk 1)

$7.99

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

When Henry’s parents are kidnapped, he’s sent to stay with relatives in Kansas. One morning Henry awakes to find his new room full of cupboards -- but not just cupboards -- portals.

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The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5)

The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5)

$7.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 5
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: A beautiful paperback edition of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, book five in the classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, featuring cover art by three time Caldecott Medal-winning artist David Wiesner and black-and-white interior illustrations by the original illustrator, Pauline Baynes.A ...

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The Magic Bicycle (Spirit Flyer)

The Magic Bicycle (Spirit Flyer)

$13.00
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 1
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: "Once there was a magic bicycle that found a boy," begins this tale of adventure and suspense. When John Kramer comes across an old, rusty Spirit Flyer bicycle, he finds it far from ordinary. First, the bike helps him save a neighbor's barn from burning. Then it brings him into conflict with the ...

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Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature

Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature

$14.95

*Description from Amazon: The wonders found in fairy tales and myths have enriched childhoods for centuries. In between "Once upon a time" and "happily ever after" we embark on adventures that seem an eternity away from our everyday lives, and yet through these adventures we are brought back to the innocence and beauty of th...

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Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children

Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children

*Description from Amazon: What is imagination, and why is it vital to childhood education? What role do great books play in shaping a child's perception of self, life, and even God? In Caught Up in a Story, Sarah Clarkson answers these vital questions, demonstrating how great books can be a parent's best ally in shaping a ch...

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The Princess and the Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Leopold Classic Library is delighted to publish this classic book as part of our extensive collection.

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Five Children and It

Five Children and It

FROM SARAH

Five siblings discover a sand-fairy who will grant one wish a day... so they've got to use those wishes carefully! This classic tale is a delight.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

When Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and their baby brother go digging in the gravel pit, the last thing they expect to find is a Psammead – an ancient Sand-fairy! Having a Sand-fairy for a pet means having one wish granted each day. But the children don't realize all the trouble wishes can cause ...

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The Dragon’s Tooth (Ashtown Burials #1)

The Dragon’s Tooth (Ashtown Burials #1)

$7.99

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing...

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On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

FROM SARAH:

For fans of Lord of the RingsThe Princess Bride, and The Chronicles of Narnia. This fantastical journey is one our family's favorites. Excellent as an audio book, as well (and it's kind of long, so if that intimidates you, opt for audio!) Don't miss my interview with Andrew Peterson for Author Access in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Janner Igiby, his brother, Tink, and their disabled sister, Leeli, are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that they love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang, who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice.

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Honey for a Child’s Heart

Honey for a Child’s Heart

*Description from Amazon: Family favorite now revised and updated, including an annotated list of books for ages 0-12 Everything parents need to know to find the best books for their children Since its publication in 1969, this has been an essential guide for parents wanting to find the best books for their children. Now i...

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The Light Princess (Sunburst Book)

The Light Princess (Sunburst Book)

$9.99

*Description from Amazon: The Light Princess--the princess who "lost her gravity"--has been essential fiction for several generations of children. This new edition is a companion volume (same page size, similar design) to our edition of The Golden Key, of which Publishers' Weekly said: "Maurice Sendak lights the way through...

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The Book of Dragons

The Book of Dragons

$10.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: This anthology is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. For those who have known and loved these works in the past, this is an invitation to reunite with old friends in a fresh new format. From Shakespeare’s finesse to Osc...

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

FROM SARAH:

Minli sets off on an adventurous journey to find the Old Man on the Moon and change her family's fortune. Elements of fantasy and folklore intertwine as Minli discovers answers to her most pressing questions. Full-color illustrations by the author make this one a special treat! Your kids can meet Grace Lin in her Author Access video replay in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune.

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Stargazer (Land of Elyon)

Stargazer (Land of Elyon)

$11.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 1
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: Patrick Carman returns to Elyon for the thrilling sequel to the bestselling Land of Elyon trilogy.A magical menace is on the loose . . . forcing Alexa to take to the seas and save a secret community located in a strange land known as the Five Stone Pillars.

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The Bark of the Bog Owl (Wilderking Trilogy)

The Bark of the Bog Owl (Wilderking Trilogy)

FROM SARAH:

The whole Wilderking Trilogy is one you don't want your kids to miss. Start here, with The Bark of the Bog Owl.  Ideal for kids 8-14, though you'll enjoy it every bit as much as your kids will. The less you know before reading it, the better, so try to skip reading reviews ahead of time, if you can!

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

12-year-old Aidan Errolson, comes from a long line of adventurers. His grandparents were among the first settlers of Corenwald's Eastern Frontier. His father had been one of the kingdom's greatest warriors. Aidan, on the other hand, lives the quiet, comfortable life, of a nobleman's son. He never has any real adventures, and that, he believes, is the one great injustice of his otherwise happy life.

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The Sword Bearer (Archives of Anthropos)

The Sword Bearer (Archives of Anthropos)

$18.00
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 1
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: It was John's birthday. He would be thirteen. And what's more, it was on this day that his grandmother would tell him the mystery of his locket . . . And of his parents. But it was not to be. Before he could find out, he was magically transported to the land of Anthropos where he was startled to...

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Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

$9.95

FROM SARAH:

Jonathan Auxier's fantastical tale of Peter, the blind orphan who lives a life of thievery. Around the time Peter finds himself in possession of three pairs of magical eyes, he realizes he is being sent on a quest to the dangerous Vanished Kingdom. Don't miss the author's interview on the RAR podcast.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Gardener, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is the utterly beguiling tale of a ten-year-old blind orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery. One fateful afternoon, he steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher--a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes.

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The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener

$8.95

*Description from Amazon: This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.The Nigh...

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Circle Series 4-in-1 (The Circle Series)

Circle Series 4-in-1 (The Circle Series)

$29.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: Rare is the story that takes readers out of this world and into another. Rarer still the story that captures heart, soul, and mind...leaving the reader forever transformed. This is that story. Dive deep and enter the Circle. The Circle is an epic story of evil and rescue, betrayal and love, and terr...

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Hood (King Raven Trilogy)

Hood (King Raven Trilogy)

$16.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 1
Tag: Episode 41

* Description from Amazon: Robin Hood: The Legend Begins Anew For centuries, the legend of Robin Hood and his band of thieves has captivated the imagination. Now the familiar tale takes on new life, fresh meaning, and an unexpected setting. Hunted like an animal by Norman invaders, Bran ap Brychan, heir to the throne of Elfa...

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Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 1)

Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 1)

$10.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 1
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: Meet Rossamünd - a foundling, a boy with a girl?s name who is about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor of the Half-Continent. What starts as a simple journey becomes a dangerous and complicated set of battles and decisions. Humans, monsters, unearthly creatures . . . who among th...

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Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

$14.95
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 21
Tag: Episode 41

*Description from Amazon: “I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer . . . Why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”Haunted by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C.S. Lewis wrote this, his last, extraordinary nov...

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Auralia’s Colors (The Auralia Thread Series #1)

Auralia’s Colors (The Auralia Thread Series #1)

$14.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 41, Book 1
Tag: Episode 41

* Description from Amazon: When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.  Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she di...

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The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday

* Description from Amazon: An unabridged edition, to include: The Unusual Soirée - The Anarchists' Council - The Tale of a Detective - The Feast of Fear - The Exposure - The Unaccountable Conduct of Professor de Worms - The Man in Spectacles - The Duel - The Criminals Chase the Police - The Earth in Anarchy - The Pursuit of ...

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Little Women (Puffin in Bloom)

Little Women (Puffin in Bloom)

The March sisters are each distinctive in their own way, but they band together to help their mother while their father is serving in the Civil War. The original version follows the girls as they grow into womanhood. Girls might enjoy identifying with a particular sister -- Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy.

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