Whether they portray kids heading out on epic quests, discovering special powers, befriending magical creatures, or falling into mythological tales, fantasy books for kids draw readers in and keep them hooked. The publishing market has exploded with diverse and captivating fantasy options for elementary and middle school readers in recent years. If you’re looking to add some more recent middle grade fantasy choices to your shelves (alongside classics like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Land of Stories, of course), this list is for you!
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1. Upside-Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins
For kids who love the idea of Hogwarts, but aren’t quite ready to read about Harry and his crew independently, this series is a must-try. The students in the Upside-Down Magic class at Dunwiddle Magic School must manage the unexpected results of their sometimes “wonky” magic. Besides its high kid-approval rating, we like how this series sensitively touches on issues related to differing abilities.
2. Dragons in a Bag series by Zetta Elliot
Urban fantasy is such an important sub-genre as teachers work on improving representation in their classroom libraries. Follow Jax and a diverse Brooklyn cast as they try to care for a set of (fast-growing!) baby dragons!
3. Magical Reality of Nadia by Bassem Youssef and Catherine R. Daly
This new series opener overflows with thoughtfully-tackled themes — identity, prejudice, bullying, friendship —plus, of course, magic! When Nadia’s souvenir amulet from Egypt comes to life, it reveals an ancient Egyptian teacher eager to share his wisdom.
4. The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
When pirates kill ten-year-old Bronte Mettlestone’s parents, their instructions for their daughter in the event of their deaths are…unusual. Each chapter details an adventurous, riddle-filled journey to deliver a gift to one of Bronte’s many aunts.
5. The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold
This immigration story infused with magical realism isn’t your typical fantasy book for kids. Gabrielle just wants to fit in when she moves from Haiti to New York City. When a witch offers her three wishes to help make that happen, the strings attached seem worth it.
6. Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
Reviewers celebrate this book as “spooky with feelings.” With a nod to Dominican mythology, it’s a fresh Ghostbusters story. A pair of friends must work to save their community from evil spirits.
7. The Cryptid Duology by Lija Fisher
Clivo doesn’t learn the full truth about his father’s job until his father dies and he must carry on his legacy as a cryptid catcher who locates hard-to-find monsters. Fast-paced and unique, this two-part series definitely grabs kids’ interest.
8. Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older
It’s the Civil War era, and dinosaurs roam the streets of New York while soldiers riding raptors wage battle down South?! Amidst these unexpected scenes, Magdalys Roca and her crew from the Colored Orphan Asylum must be both daring and smart as they try to rescue their friends captured by a villainous magistrate. This fantastical twist on American history will capture kids’ imaginations.
9. Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
When Nan, a young orphan, wakes up after surviving a horrible chimney fire, she discovers she isn’t alone. A golem—a monster made from soot and ash—has appeared and becomes her companion. Captivating historical fantasy.
10. Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, 1) by B.B. Alston
Amari is our new favorite regular-kid-who-is-actually-magic! This series opener weaves in social issues of bias and privilege with plenty of magical adventure.
11. The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman
If you love The Chronicles of Narnia but are looking for something new, this is your book! This story is full of British charm, talking animals, and enchanted railway lines.
12. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Sal and Gabi navigate relatable friendship issues and really bring the Miami Cuban community to life—all while conjuring deceased family members and playing with time and space. This series is part of the Rick Riordan Presents collection, which promotes fantasy books for kids from diverse voices and cultural influences. You’ll definitely want to check out the whole collection.
13. Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crow is a winning character who many readers have compared to Harry Potter. She’s an underdog offered the chance to journey to a magical world and change her fate—and she takes it with courage and wit. The audiobooks also get rave reviews.
14. Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series by Sayantani DasGupta
Kiranmala grew up hearing her parents’ Indian myths, but she never imagined one would come true—in her kitchen on her twelfth birthday. Soon she’s swept up in an adventure beyond her wildest dreams.
15. Root Magic by Eden Royce
Jezebel “Jez” Turner learns there’s more to her family’s tradition of “rootwork,” African American folk magic than she thought. Set in the Jim Crow era South, this powerful story weaves magical realism with plenty of rich historical context.
16. The Fowl Twins series by Eoin Colfer
This spinoff of the popular Artemis Fowl series stars Artemis’s twin younger brothers. It’s just as smart, funny, and readable as the original books!
17. A Tale of Magic series by Chris Colfer
For kids who couldn’t get enough of the iconic Land of Stories books, this spinoff will keep them satiated. Or, read it as a prequel to the original series. Either way, there’s plenty of fairy tale wonder and some dark twists and turns.
18. A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
This fantastical Les Misérables-inspired story is steeped in Thai culture and has strong social justice themes. It’s a great book club choice.
19. Time Villains by Victor Piñeiro
This series opener has so many elements kids love: pirates, history, humor, and plenty of action! When a magical table brings Blackbeard the Pirate to a present-day dinner party, how will Javi, his best friend, and his sister send him back where he belongs?
20. The Overthrow series by Kenneth Oppel
Not for the faint of heart! Those who enjoy the creepier side of fantasy books for kids love these tales of toxic carnivorous plants, giant insects, and aliens—and the courageous teen friends in the center of it all.
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