Harry Potter had us all flying off to bookstores, and we think that he deserves every bit of his widespread fame. Children have been swept away by author J.K. Rowling’s combination of humor and fantasy. Still, what can be done when that last page of The Deathly Hallows has been turned? The good news is that there are so many other wonderful books for children that offer the same kind of escape. Here is a list of a few of our favorites. Each one is bubbling over with fun and magical adventures!!
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The Secrets of Droon, by Tony Abbott
A secret doorway leads three friends to a world filled with adventure and magical characters. This is a very long series (at least 20 books.) Each volume is short, action-packed, and easy to comprehend.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Glinda of Oz, and others by L. Frank Baum.
These are the original books and they take you way beyond the movie. Dorothy and all your favorite Oz characters travel to many other lands and meet all kinds of wicked witches, princesses, and wizards. The series is practically endless and has a huge following!
The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Holly Black.
When the Grace children go to stay at their Great Aunt Lucinda’s worn Victorian house, they discover a field guide to fairies and other creatures and begin to have some unusual experiences
No Flying in the House, by Betty Brock.
This is a classic! A little girl and her dog Gloria find themselves on an adventure full of fairies, flying, excitement, and enchantments. Don’t miss it, it is one of our all-time favorites.
The Would Be Witch, By Ruth Chew.
When two children meet Zleda, the eccentric owner of an antique shop, they begin to suspect that she might be a witch—until they discover something about themselves. We have many of the Ruth Chew books in the library (sadly, they are out of print) The language is much easier to read than Harry Potter and makes them a great choice for second graders.
Dorrie and the Wizard’s Spell, by Patricia Coombs.
This is one of a series of books about Dorrie, the little witch who is just learning her spells. She has many encounters with goblins, imps, and ghosts, but the books are short, sweet, and gentle–perfect for younger readers.
The Magic Shop, by Scott Corbett.
All of the Corbett books are good for younger readers who want to get in on the magic. Each of these short, easier-to-read volumes contains some kind of wizard, potion, or magic spell.
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, by Bruce Coville.
Jeremy buys a mysterious-looking ball in a strange shop and follows the unusual instructions. Nothing is ever the same! Try other funny and magical stories by Coville such as The World’s Worst Fairy Godmother and Jennifer Murdley’s Toad.
The Magic Finger, by Roald Dahl.
This is perfect for readers who don’t want to tackle a book the size of Harry Potter or other Roald Dahl books. It is the hilarious story of a girl, her temper, and her powerful finger.
Matilda, by Roald Dahl.
This is one of our favorite Roald Dahl tales. Poor little Matilda loves to read and learn but is hopelessly misunderstood by almost everyone. She overcomes her circumstances with help and a little bit of magic. Don’t miss other imaginative Dahl classics like George’s Marvelous Medicine and The BFG, and of course Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Half Magic, by Edward Eager.
This is a classic. When the children find a wish-giving coin, they learn that it is only half magic. This leads to all kinds of magical adventures that only seem to work halfway. There are many equally enchanting books by this author such as Seven Day Magic.
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, by Julie Edwards.
Three children and a professor make a journey to the fantastic land of the Whangdoodle, a magical creature who roamed the earth until everyone stopped believing in him This has tons of fun and adventure for older readers.
My Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannet.
Elmer Elevator goes on a series of funny, quirky adventures to rescue a dragon. This is a perfect read-aloud for kindergarteners and a great independent choice for second graders. There are two sequels.
The Secret of Platform Thirteen, by Eva Ibbotson.
A hag, a wizard, and an ogre must travel from their world, through a secret tunnel (open every nine years) to London to rescue a prince who was stolen at birth. Also try Which Witch, Island of the Aunts, and others by Ibbotson.
Paddy’s Pot of Gold, by Dick King-Smith.
Brigid, a little Irish girl, encounters a leprechaun on her ninth birthday and their friendship leads to all kinds of excitement. Make sure not to miss other titles by King-Smith who is the author of Babe the Gallant Pig and many other whimsical, imaginative tales.
The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, by Penelope Lively
James moves into a new house that’s hundreds of years old. Eventually, he becomes the apprentice to the ghost.
Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.
This is a wonderful but rather complicated retelling of Cinderella. In this story full of magical details Ella is cursed from birth: she must always obey orders, even if they come from evil stepsisters–great for older readers.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (1st in a series of seven).
You can read it to your children now, or save to for them to read to themselves in a few years. Nothing beats these absorbing journeys through the wardrobe into the enchanted world land of Narnia.
The Gold Dust Letters, by Janet Taylor Lisle.
Three children are surprised to find a message made of fairy dust. Their communications with the fairy continue until a mystery is unraveled.
The Lost Flower Children, by Janet Taylor Lisle.
Two unhappy girls visit their eccentric aunt and hear of a curse set on her garden. Can they find the buried treasure and break the spell? This is one of our favorite new books this year.
The Worst Witch, by Jill Murphy.
Don’t be put off by the covers of the new editions. These are classic, charming books about a clumsy witch’s adventures in a witch school.
The Magic Treehouse, series by Mary Pope Osborne.
This is a very popular series for children about two children who find a treehouse that lets them travel through time. These are perfect for second graders.
Deltora Quest, by Emily Rodda
This is a series of books about the land of Deltora, a kingdom that has fallen on hard times since the invasion of the evil Shadow Lord. Two friends must recover magic gems and rid their land of the tyrant. This is perfect for second and third graders who are dying to read the Lord of the Rings.
The Time Warp Trio, series by John Scieska.
These books are short but hysterical tales of three time-traveling friends and a mysterious magical book.
The Genie of Sutton Place, by George Selden.
A 12-year boy discovers that magic words that unleash a real genie in New York City.
The Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket.
Almost a parody of Dickens, this series follows the three Baudelaire orphans through their many, many trials. The books have a sarcastic (and quite dark) sense of humor and would be enjoyed most by older children.
Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
Two children love to pretend that they are in ancient Egypt. But when they begin playing behind a dusty antique store, strange things being to happen. Also try The Headless Cupid by the same author for another ghostly adventure.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, by Nancy Willard.
This is a beautifully illustrated version of the classic story where the sorcerer’s helper doesn’t follow directions. It is a picture book, but the text is quite long and complicated.
The Castle in the Attic, by Elizabeth Winthrop.
When lonely William is given a toy castle, his world suddenly becomes full of knights, wizards, and sorcery.
Wizard Hall, by Jane Yolen.
The superficial resemblances to Harry Potter are uncanny. Eleven-year-old Henry goes off to a school for Wizards. It is also full of details and dragons but is a little darker and more serious than Harry Potter.