Harry Potter Reading List
or, what to read while we wait for number 7
BEYOND HARRY: Books for readers who love Harry Potter

BEYOND HARRY: Books for readers who love Harry Potter

 

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[Code: B=especially suitable for boy reader; G=especially suitable for girl reader; YA=more for the teen reader]

 

NOTE: to order any book, click on the 'Order' link.

 

1. The classics

 

Tolkein, Hobbit and Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit is accessible to younger readers.  Lord of the Rings (YA) takes some patience, and many Harry fans find the opening of the series slow and dark at first.

The Hobbit
The Hobbit

Order The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit and the Complete Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King/Boxed Set
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit and the Complete Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King/Boxed Set

 

C.S. Lewis, Narnia books.  If your reader did not like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, try A Horse and his Boy, my favorite, and one which concentrates on a single--very interesting--child hero.  Older readers might like Lewis's extremely Christian and allegorical science fiction series which begins with Out of the Silent Planet (YA).

The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set
The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set

The Horse and His Boy
The Horse and His Boy

Out of the Silent Planet
Out of the Silent Planet

 

E. Nesbit.  The most prolific author of British children's fantasy.  Die-hard fantasy lovers should be warned that some of her books are NOT fantasy--the Would-be-good series, for example.  Her books feature plucky British Victorian children who sometimes come close to being caricatures but always manage to come off somehow.  Most plots involve multiple children in large, warm families.  My favorites: Five Children and It, Harding's Luck, The Magic City.

Five Children and It
Five Children and It

Harding's Luck

Magic City
Magic City

 

 2. Near-classic

 

Roald Dahl.  A master of dark humor and unexpected plot twists, Dahl's fantasy books usually feature persecuted children and ogre-like adults.  The Charlie books have been a bit over-exposed; try Matilda.

Matilda
Matilda

 

Edward Eager.  A light-hearted American version of E. Nesbit; like her, he writes some non-fantasy titles.  Very witty and engaging books.  My favorites: Half-Magic, Knight's Castle.  Accessible to younger readers.

Half Magic
Half Magic

Knight's Castle
Knight's Castle

 

L. Frank Baum, Oz series.  I never went for these, but many children do--and if they like them, there are a LOT of them.  G

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

 

Lloyd Alexander, Prydain series (begins with The Book of Three).  The adventures of an assistant pig-keeper and a princess in a setting based on Welsh legend.  Alexander's other books are uneven; these are superb.

Book of Three
Book of Three

 

Madeleine L'Engle.  Much more science fiction than fantasy, and can be a bit heavy on the allegory.  Some non-fantasy titles, although characters from her books reappear in other books, crossing from one genre to another.

A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time

 

L.M. Boston, Green Knowe series.  Lucy Boston's beloved series begins with a lonely boy discovering ghostly companions in a magical old house.  Thanks to A. P. McBride for reminding me about these!

The Children of Green Knowe
The Children of Green Knowe

 

3. Highly recommended

 

Susan Cooper: The Boggart and The Dark is Rising series.  The Boggart is very imaginative and funnier than the series, which involves a group of  modern children caught up in an Arthurian legend.  The second book in the series, Over Sea, Under Stone, is a masterpiece of children's fantasy.

Boggart
Boggart

The Dark Is Rising Sequence: Silver on the Tree; The Grey King; Greenwitch; The Dark Is Rising; Over Sea, Under Stone
The Dark Is Rising Sequence: Silver on the Tree; The Grey King; Greenwitch; The Dark Is Rising; Over Sea, Under Stone

 

Diana Wynne-Jones.  Superbly written, with wonderful plot twists.  Some (Fire and Hemlock, virtually a romance) more suited to YA readers.  For Harry fans, I recommend the Chrestomanci series, about a Victorian magician; Dogsbody, narrated by a star who has been punished by being reborn as a dog; Eight Days of Luke, a poignant take on Norse myth with an engaging schoolboy hero; Howl's Moving Castle, featuring a young girl who has been turned into a crone (recently an anime-style movie release).

Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume I
The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume I

Dogsbody
Dogsbody

Fire and Hemlock
Fire and Hemlock

Eight Days of Luke
Eight Days of Luke

 

Ursula LeGuin, Earthsea trilogy.  One of the best fantasy series for young readers ever written, featuring an alienated young hero whose training as a wizard goes dreadfully wrong.

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Series #1)
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Series #1)

 

Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword.  Great for horse-lovers; the heroine is kidnapped by desert nomads whose magician-king has foreseen that she will save his people. G

The Blue Sword
The Blue Sword

 

Joan Aiken, Wolves of Willoughby Chase and sequels.  Not fantasy (except that they are set in an England which never existed); like Dahl, Aiken pits resourceful children against unspeakably villainous adults. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Alan Garner, The Owl Service.  Dark and compelling modern fantasy based on Welsh legend.

Owl Service
Owl Service

 

E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  Not fantasy, but the setting (the Metropolitan Museum, where the heroine hides out after running away from home) creates the same sort of magical atmosphere.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

 

Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted.  One of the best retellings of Cinderella ever--and far better than the recent movie version.  G

Ella Enchanted
Ella Enchanted

 

Eva Ibbotson, The Secret of Platform 13.  In this humorous tale, as in the currently popular movie Shrek, the 'monsters' are the heroes, venturing from the magical world into ours to rescue a lost child.

Secret of Platform 13
Secret of Platform 13

 

Sylvia Waugh, Mennym series.  Not just for girls, even if it is about dolls who come to life.  Very funny and poignant.

The Mennyms
The Mennyms

 

Natalie Babbitt, The Search for Delicious.  Comical tale of a boy's quest featuring a gloomy mermaid; accessible to younger readers.  G

Search for Delicious
Search for Delicious

 

John Christopher, The White Mountains and sequels.  Superb science-fiction series about a boy who pits himself against aliens who have enslaved the earth.  Makes 'Animorphs' look like the back of a cereal box.  B

The White Mountains (The Tripods Series #1)
The White Mountains (The Tripods Series #1)

 

Megan Whalen Turner, The Thief.  This stunning book, with one of the best surprise endings I've ever read, is narrated by a young pick-pocket and set in a version of ancient Greece where the gods are real.  The sequel, The Queen of Attolia (YA), is darker and verges on romance; it, too, is superbly plotted.  The King of Attolia (YA), a third book, is just out.

Thief
Thief

 

4. Current favorites with preteen/young teen readers

 

Patricia Wrede.  A local Minnesota author, whose witty and imaginative books about a princess who takes refuge with a clan of dragons are accessible to fairly young readers.  G

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Dealing with Dragons; Searching for Dragons; Calling on Dragons; Talking to Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles Series)
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Dealing with Dragons; Searching for Dragons; Calling on Dragons; Talking to Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles Series)

 

Susan Fletcher, Dragonsmilk.  For hard-core dragon lovers.

Dragon's Milk
Dragon's Milk

 

Tamora Pierce.  Several series, usually with feminist heroines, all in a quasi-medieval setting.

Squire
Squire

 

Brian Jacques, Redwall books.  Mighty medieval magical mice.

Redwall
Redwall

 

Philip Pullman, Golden Compass and sequels.  Brooding, metaphysical fantasy about the nature of god and the boundaries between worlds, with a hero and heroine who are not always very likable.  Perfect for adolescents in their darker moods.

His Dark Materials Box Set
His Dark Materials Box Set

 

Ioain Colfer, Artemis Fowl.  Cool-headed boy crime lord meets high-tech leprechauns.  Very funny, but the sequels are not as good as the first book.  B

Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl

 

Suzanne Collins, Gregor series.  A boy ventures down beneath the earth into a world of goblins and giant rodents.  B

Gregor the Overlander
Gregor the Overlander

 

K. P. Bath, The Secret of Castle Cant.  Wry, edgy fantasy set in a Joan Aiken-like world of threatening adults and complex children.  Features a feisty and delightful maidservant heroine.

The Secret of Castle Cant
The Secret of Castle Cant

 

5. School stories--not fantasy, but some Harry fans like the school setting as much as the magic

 

Owen Johnson, Lawrenceville Stories.  Dated, with lots of slang, and hard to get hold of, but these are the classic American tales of boys at boarding school.  Some truly hilarious episodes.  B

Lawrenceville Stories

 

Enid Blyton.  The queen of the boarding school story, this British author is nearly unknown in the US.  My daughter devoured her girls' school books--the Malory Towers series and the St. Clare series. Currently only available as Audio Tapes in the US.  G

In the Fifth at Malory Towers
In the Fifth at Malory Towers

 

Noel Streatfield.  The Shoe books (Circus Shoes, Ballet Shoes, etc.) feature children who are suddenly thrust into intensive training for performing arts--sometimes in school settings, sometimes not.  G

Ballet Shoes

 

Kipling, Stalky and Company.  The ultimate boys' school book, now dated and reeking of British colonialism, but still a comical and true-to-life portrait of boys' friendships.  B

Stalky And Company
Stalky And Company