As a writer, it’s probably not surprising that my kids love to read. We spend at least two or three hours each day listening to audiobooks and then an hour or two on top of that reading. Yeah, we love books around here. That said, sometimes finding new, interesting fantasy novels for middle-grade readers can be tricky. Once you’ve finished the books you love as a kid, where do you go?
Recently, I asked some of my writer friends on Facebook for suggestions on great fantasy novels for middle-grade readers. I got some fantastic recommendations and have been having a lovely time enjoying these stories with my kids.
Are you looking for new books? Check out my list and let me know what you think!
1. The Shadows
This house is keeping secrets . . .
When eleven-year-old Olive and her parents move into the crumbling mansion on Linden Street and find it filled with mysterious paintings, Olive knows the place is creepy—but it isn’t until she encounters its three talking cats that she realizes there’s something darkly magical afoot. Then Olive finds a pair of antique spectacles in a dusty drawer and discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside the house’s spooky paintings to a world that’s strangely quiet . . . and eerily sinister. But in entering Elsewhere, Olive has been ensnared in a mystery darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. With only the cats and an unusual boy she meets in Elsewhere on her side, it’s up to Olive to save the house from the shadows, before the lights go out for good.
The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1) is a story about an 11-year-old who moves into a new house, but nothing is as it seems. This story is really interesting and has a decent pace. We’ve been reading a few chapters each night before bed, but each chapter ends on a cliffhanger so sometimes falling asleep after reading can be tricky! If you like this story, there are four more books in the series, so this is a great one to start if you plan to do even more reading.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
Crenshaw was added to my to-read list when several of my author friends suggested it. Katherine Applegate is one of those writers who manages to suck you into her world in a seemingly effortless way.
“Imaginary friends are like books. We’re created, we’re enjoyed, we’re dog-eared and creased, and then we’re tucked away until we’re needed again.” -Katherine Applegate, Crenshaw
But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.
Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.