Middle school is a lot like stepping into a totally new world, full of strange faces and unfamiliar places (and possibly 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)—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
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 from a reawakened evil.
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
Like many 13-year-olds, Moth Hush doesn’t quite fit in at school. But unlike her peers, her family legacy is intrinsically tied to her town’s centuries-old history of witch drama—making her a half-witch herself. 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
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—and there are many thoughts to be had on power, consequences, and motive.
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
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.
This is a gorgeously-illustrated journey through a land filled with friends and foes, dragons and mermaids, danger and intrigue.
More Portal Fantasy: If your kid hopes to stumble into an entirely new world (and out of their own), 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!)
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?
This mythological mix-up will put your own middle-schooler into giggling fits—a perfect mix of Percy Jackson and Diary of a Wimpy Kid!
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 transfigure reading for pleasure into a lifelong love of literature (without the need for questionable love potions). This list is just a small vial of our alchemy; the rest comes in an expert-curated box, packed full of the best books for fourth-graders on up.
Club Phoenix delivers book magic to your door every month (or as often as you’d like). All you need to do is let them spread their fiery wings—in fantasy, they’ll quickly learn to fly.