This is quite different than my usual scheduled programing, but I was inspired to put together a compilation of awesome books to read for younger readers by a kiddo I babysat. He’s ten, absolutely loves to read, and 90% of our conversations revolve around books. Because a lot of the books I currently own are a bit mature for a ten year old, I reminisced upon all the books I was obsessed with at his age to give him ideas. Sadly, this was a stark reminder of how archaic I am, but I am not so ancient that these wouldn’t be relevant today, and of course many of them still are. I also commented this list on a TikTok, and it received an overwhelming amount of likes… which naturally gave me the confidence I needed to post this. So, I thought I’d go ahead and create a little mini series of my personal recommendations for younger readers based on what I read during those lovely, formative years.
The Percy Jackson Series
I think anyone who knows me well knows that one of my favorite series of all time is the Percy Jackson series. Percy himself truly has a special place in my heart, and has made me the person I am today. I read the first book when I was 11, and I was hooked, obsessively waiting for each novel to come out (I know right, waiting for each Percy Jackson book to be released? Wild). Rick Riordan is an absolute mastermind, with his ability to convey ancient, heavy greek mythology into a hilarious series that kids can wrap their heads around. I think it honestly spurred my appreciation for all mythology, and each time I come across any odes to ancient Greece today, I think of his characters. I don’t think I will ever be able to recommend this series enough, and I will never stop talking about it. Plus, Rick has expanded upon Percy’s world with several new and exciting books, and he supports up and coming authors around the world. AND he’s heavily involved in the new PJ Disney+ series… much love, Uncle Rick. Much love.
The Fablehaven Series
Another series that floats to the top of my warm and fuzzy memories is the Fablehaven series, written by Brandon Mull. I was hands down obsessed with these books when I was younger, and I remember them being simply delightful to read. Once again, I used to scour the library each and every week waiting for the newest book to be released in the series. These books are perfect for any young reader who loves fantasy, and I think it really inspired my appreciation for mythical creatures. Brandon Mull also had a unique way of writing mythology into the modern world, making it more relatable for readers who are just tapping into the well of their imagination.
The Artemis Fowl Series
The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer is another series I highly suggest tween readers check out. I don’t know about you guys, but I wanted to be Artemis… boy genius, criminal mastermind with an attitude who discovers the underground faerie world. As he develops a plan to kidnap one to bring back his family’s fortune, he gets sucked into the dangerous world of the faeries. I am almost giddy as I remember this series and how I felt while reading it, and how it completely blew my mind as a child. There are certain parts of these books that are so deeply engrained in my mind that I don’t think I will ever forget them, even as they start to feel like somewhat of a fever dream as I get older. Artemis Fowl was that powerful.
The Door Within Series
Ok, this next series is a bit of a brain scratch, BUT it has scratched my brain so deeply that I will never forget it: The Door Within Series by Wayne Thomas Batson. I think I read this series right as I started to watch Lord of the Rings, and it was so, so important in spurring my love for fantasy. The characters of this book inspired me beyond belief, and it was the perfect blend of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (if I remember correctly). I even looked it up to make sure I hadn’t fabricated the whole thing (because that’s how rent free it lives in my mind), and I was a little surprised to see that it is categorized as a “Christian” fantasy… but I guess that makes sense if I got LOTR and Narnia vibes. However, I wouldn’t go so far to put the “Christian” label on it… I tend to stay far away from anything labeled “Christian”, so don’t let that deter you from handing it to a young reader in your life. Dragons, swords, mythical creatures, a unique and dangerous world… yeah, this book had it all and then some.
The Harry Potter Series
Rounding up this post is of course, the one and only Harry Potter. Yes, I know J.K. Rowling is a transphob, which is NOT ok, considering her series was very important to those in the LGBTQ+ community. It pains me to hear her hateful comments, which are so hurtful and dangerous to trans people, while also remembering just how special Harry Potter is to me, my family, my husband, and his family. This was a series that defined my childhood; my mom started listening to the books when I was little, telling my family about it each night at dinner. Then, we all started listening to the audiobooks during dinner and road trips. Then, I read the physical books, multiple times. Don’t even get me started on the movies, video games, memorabilia, etc. I think a truly special aspect of Harry Potter is not only do young readers read it and connect with the story, but adults of all ages can as well. My brother and I were obsessed, and our parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents also fell in love with the story.
So there you have it: the top five fantasy series I highly recommend young readers dive on into, based on my own avid reading expertise. I think reading at a young age is crucial, when your imagination truly takes off and you develop a sort of friendship with the characters… when the world starts to feel like comfort, and magic takes place between the pages. Obviously, I have MANY more suggestions where these came from, and I’m thinking about making this a sort of mini-series within the blog. Stay tuned for more recommendations! My passion for reading runs deep, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without this solid foundation of books making up the building blocks of my very being.