Middle school is a lot like stepping into a totally new world, full of strange faces and unfamiliar places (possibly with a mouthful of braces). With so much to learn, transitioning from elementary school to sixth grade (and up!) could make anyone’s knees wobble—it takes a hero indeed to face such numerous foes!
It’s no wonder so many of our most-beloved middle grade books are full of fantasy adventures, magical new worlds, and mythical beasts to battle or befriend. Such stories dazzle and enchant young readers, helping kids aged 9 to 12 master their spelling (if not their spell-casting), comprehension and vocabulary, all while pulling them into the exciting realm of fantasy fiction.
If you’re hoping to charm a young reader into a lifelong love of reading, try summoning some of Literati’s best middle-grade fantasy books for kids.
The Lost Rainforest #1: Mez’s Magic
by Eliot Schrefer
It’s not often you get to stroll in a panther’s pawsteps. From New York Times bestselling author Eliot Schrefer, this adventure takes your young reader straight into the wild of Caldera, where a young panther must use her unusual powers to unravel an ancient mystery and save her endangered rainforest home.
Quietly educational and powerfully intriguing, this three-part series infuses magical worldbuilding into an intricate animal kingdom reminiscent of Erin Hunter’s Warriors and Bravelands books (also Literati favorites!).
More Adventure Fantasy
If your 9-12 year old loves daring quests and dangerous expeditions, there’s plenty more journeys to be had!
The Lost Property Office – a secret society, a missing magical artifact, and the thrilling, history-riddled adventure to recover it .
Race to the End of the World – an ordinary boy with an extraordinary memory launches on an ambitious voyage to the edge of the map.
The Okay Witch
by Emma Steinkellner
Like many 13-year-olds, Moth Hush doesn’t quite fit in at school. But unlike her peers, her family legacy is tied to her town’s history of witch drama. Once her powers emerge, a talking cat and an enchanted diary lead her to the hidden witch world, where she discovers secrets of generations past.
This charming graphic novel magically balances humor and heart for a down-to-earth take on supernatural adolescence. It’s a spellbinding coming-of-age story full of twists and surprises!
More Fantasy Graphic Novels
And did we mention the gorgeous art? If your middle-grade reader finds illustrations particularly illuminating, might we also suggest:
Pashmina – a heartwarming tale about the hardship of juggling two cultures and two worlds, and the self-discovery that results.
Nightlights – a whimsical story about fear, creativity, and a girl who can create magical creatures from tiny sparks of light
by Jacqueline West
Not all wishes are good—in fact, even good wishes often have unintended consequences. But who gets to decide which ones come true? This twisty narrative will have your middle schooler questioning everything about wish-making as they follow a boy named Van into the mysterious, nuanced world of those who “collect” them.
This underground world is as delightful as it is thought-provoking—perfect for any middle grader navigating new academic challenges and social dynamics.
More Magical Fantasy
If wildly creative magics and mystical worlds keep your intermediate reader engaged for hours, we’re right there with them—these are some of our favorite reads!
The Nightmare Thief – Maren loves to make and sell dreams in her family’s shop, until one sinister customer demands a nightmare.
Lalani of the Distant Sea – to save her village, Lalani must face several fearsome mythical creatures inspired by Filipino folklore.
The Land of Roar
By Jenny McLachlan
It’s been years since Rose and Arthur traversed the folding bed in Grandad’s attic to their imaginary Land of Roar, but while cleaning the attic, Grandad himself gets pulled in! And if our readership is any indication, so will your middle-grade reader.
With constant danger and intrigue, this gorgeously-illustrated story has proven time and time again to help develop consistent reading habits in budding fantasy-lovers.
More Portal Fantasy
If your kid hopes to stumble into an entirely new world, they’ll love getting lost in these fabulous fantasies:
The Island of Dr. Libris – when Billy discovers the mysterious bookcase of Dr. Libris, he uncovers a magic that brings the stories to life.
Story Thieves – Owen gets to live every bookworm’s dream: jumping into the text itself (expect high stakes, suspense, and plot twists galore!)
by David Slavin
Oddonis is a son of Zeus. He’s surely odd (he doesn’t have powers like the rest of his family and even has webbed toes), but he’s also endearing. He and his friends at Mount Olympus Middle School are an ungodly group, but can they pull it together in time for a big school election? A perfect mix of Percy Jackson and Diary of a Wimpy Kid!, this mythological mix-up is a giggle-inducing precursor to more complex mythical stories.
More Funny Fantasy
If busting a gut gets your reader reading, they’ll never want to shelve these hilarious adventures:
Rat Rule 79: An Adventure – step into the Land of Impossibility: a loopily illogical place where time is outlawed and words carry dire consequences.
Knights vs. Dinosaurs – exactly what it says—and so, so much more: laugh yourself to tears with the misadventures of these Knights of the Round Table.
Conjure the Best Kids Fantasy Books from Literati
Complex character relationships between humans, goblins, and dragons alike help guide readers in fourth-seventh grade through their own expanding social circles. Think of fantasy fiction as a wise old wizard handing young readers the map to meaningful relationships. Reading is a great way to foster empathy in this age group—you just need to conjure the right books!
At Literati, we aim to help reading excel and build a love of literature (without the need for questionable love potions). This list is a small vial of our alchemy; the rest comes in a personalized book box, packed full of just the right stuff for your child’s reading development and unique interests.
Literati Kids book clubs deliver perfectly-curated book magic to your door. All you need to do is let them spread their fiery wings—in fantasy, they’ll quickly learn to fly.