If you have read my previous post on supporting readers, you will know that I firmly believe that providing good books for kids is the most important thing you can do when helping your child learn to read. Creating excitement can make all the difference, especially if you are dealing with a reluctant reader.
As I continue my never ending mission to find new books for my kids to read, I find myself in a situation where both of my kids now have favourite genres. This makes the search for new books a bit more of a challenge because we can no longer just go the store and pick out what looks cool (hmmm… I guess that’s why they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover).
Sure, we could always search Best (insert genre) Books For Kids, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about those types of lists for myself, is that maybe there will be one or two out of 10 that I will actually like. While it’s fine for me to dabble and experiment with different books that may or may not work for me, I feel that kids, especially early in their reading experiences, need to enjoy the books they read 100% of the time. How else can we continue to tell them that reading is fun and exciting unless their experience is fun and exciting?
So in my continuing quest to find books that my kids will enjoy, I have now stumbled into the world of genres. For my 10 year old son, the genre that has caught his attention is fantasy and science fiction. As a reader of fantasy myself, I was pretty excited to hear that he was wanting to try out some higher level books in a genre that is growing in popularity.
The Fantasy & Sci-Fi Genre
Thanks to books and shows like Game of Thrones, the fantasy genre no longer carries with it the nerd label that it once did. People have started to realize that fantasy and sci-fi literature is some of the most well written and engaging works available. However, accessibility has and will always be its main downfall. Due to the world-building necessary for most fantasy/sci-fi books, it can be a little intimidating for new readers to jump into a story that usually requires significant descriptions of magic, creatures, and histories.
When I started looking for fantasy books for my son, I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t stuck reading a book that spent 37 pages describing a mountain, but still included some of the characteristics that make the genre great. What I realized in my search was that great strides have been made to ensure that the most exciting and engaging aspects of fantasy have been included in these books for kids.
While I would like for him to eventually appreciate prose and literary descriptions, right now I am only concerned with him loving reading. With that being said, the following selections are ones that seemed to really resonate with a 10 year old boy looking to get into fantasy and science fiction.
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Predominantly an adult fantasy author, Yoon Ha Lee’s first YA book is one that blends fantasy space elements with Korean Mythology. My son absolutely loved this one and claims that it was the most exciting book he has ever read.
Ranger’s Apprentice (series) by John Flanagen
Nothing is more exciting than finishing an awesome book and then finding out that there are 13 more books in the series (plus 2 prequels and a spinoff series). The Ranger’s Apprentice series not only has a ton of books, but it does a really good job of introducing all of the cool stuff the fantasy genre has to offer. This series has everything from magic to evil lords to epic battles, and it presents them all in a charming and entertaining fashion.
Fablehaven (series) by Brandon Mull
Fablehaven is a great example of how fantasy literature can test a reader’s imagination. This series is chock full of magic, mystical creatures, demons, and various other-worldly things that only fantasy books can deliver. This series does a great job of putting believable characters into situations where they are dealing with fantastical creatures. This allows for the reader to suspend their disbelief and engage with the characters, which is a necessary skill for anyone looking to enjoy fantasy or science fiction.