Raise your hand if you want to have magical powers like Harry Potter and attend Hogwarts? Yeah, me too. Since I can’t figure out a way to make that happen, reading books with characters who have magical powers is my back up plan. It is not as satisfying as actually having the power to fly, but it is the best I can do.
In my experience, readers have strong opinions about magical fantasy books; they either love them or hate them– no in between. If you are like me and love them, it might be because magic gives readers a feeling that they can control their world. Of course in most stories, using magical powers does not always solve problems; it usually creates problems, which then creates excitement.
The list below typically works well for upper elementary aged readers with a few exceptions. You can also find magical book suggestions on the fairy tale book list, which I posted earlier.
Truly Magical– These books have characters who can perform actual magic like turning people into statues or disappearing or flying. If the characters can not perform magic, then the setting is a magical world or the sub characters have magical powers.
- 11 Birthdays and sequels by Wendy Mass
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series by Frank L. Baum
- Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
- Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo
- Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
- The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas
- Winterling series by Sarah Prineas
- The Wednesday Witch by Ruth Chew (out of print– check your library)
- Magickeepers series by Erica Kirov
- Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- Mary Poppins series by P. L. Travers
- Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
- Savvy and Scumble by Ingrid Law
- The Tail of Emily Windsnap series by Liz Kessler
Magical Objects– In these books, the characters live in a world that is more or less like the one we know. There is an object that creates magic. It might transport the characters to a different world or allow the characters to do something that would otherwise not be possible. I noted the “magic object” in parenthesis below.
- The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull (the candy)
- Half Magic by Edward Eager (the coin)
- The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne, younger readers (the treehouse,)
- Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series by by Betty Macdonald, younger readers (the remedies)
- Tuesdays at the Castle and sequel by Jessica Day George (the castle)
- Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (the water)
- The Shadows by Jacqueline West (the paintings)
Almost Normal– These books have characters and settings that are pretty realistic, but there will be one or more characters with a trait that is unusual. It’s not exactly magic, but it is close.
- What the Dog Said by Randi Reisfeld
- The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer
- Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan
- The Princess Academy and sequel by Shannon Hale
- Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley
- The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl
On My “To Read” List
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
- Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce
- Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
- So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane
- The Key and the Flame by Claire M. Caterer
** Sewing Sister is in town with her girls for a visit. I would like to thank my nieces for their help with this magic fantasy book list.
Great post! There’s also a bit of a divide I think, between people who prefer fantasy in this world (eg The Witches) and other-world fantasy (eg The Hobbit) – it would be interesting to see how those match up with your magic categories.
Yes, I totally agree. I think some of the “all magic” titles like Matilda or Harry Potter would move into the fantasy in this world category, which would overlap with the magical object list. There are so many ways to divide the list! Any other titles I should add?
Hmm… I guess it depends on how confident a reader they are, but I’d probably include Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, especially the first one, Under Sea, Over Stone, which I think is more suitable for younger readers. Robin Jarvis is also worth a look – I can remember my younger sister being crazy about his Deptford Mice trilogy when she was that age. I’ve also just recently read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente, which is just fantastic and aimed at children.
I have not heard of the Deptford Mice Trilogy. Thanks for the suggestion!
What a great collection of titles! I can always count on you for a recommendation.
Elizabeth, Have your girls read any on my “to read” list? Do they have any suggestions? Miss you! Hope you had a great summer. Caitlin
They each just started following your blog, so I’ll let them comment directly.
It works– thanks for following!
Matilda, Harry Potter, and Magic Thief are my favorites.
I also used to love and still do Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. When I am cleaning my room I pretend I have to do it before the queen comes, like in the book. It is little kidish but fun. I also like Half Magic, Tuesdays at the Castle, Princess Academy, Lightening Thief, Candy Shop War, Mary Poppins, Emily Windsnap, and 11 Birthdays and series.
I love The Magic Thief books. I think it is my favorite wizard series.
Have you read the sisters 8? I love that series. They are the best! They have magical powers and would be great on this list!
I don’t know Sisters 8. I’ll look for it.
Great list! I LOVE Magical Fantasy – to me, it’s PURE fantasy! (dragons are a nice touch too 😉 ) 😀
I love it too.