17 Children's Fantasy Series You May Have Missed As A Kid — But Should Read Now
I've spent a lifetime reading fantasy novels, but there are so many novels and series that I didn't have the chance to read when I was younger and could have enjoyed them more. If you're burned out on today's magical book offerings, I've got 17 great fantasy series you might have missed out on reading as a kid, because there's no time like the present to revisit the best stories of yesteryear.
Depending on how deeply and widely you read fantasy in the 1990s and 2000s, you may recognize many of the books on this list, and you might have even read them all.
You'll notice, as you scroll through the 17 fantasy series I've recommended below, that children's genre fiction was not a particularly diverse field 10 or 20 years ago. There are hardly any writers or characters of color on this list, not because people of color were not trying to publish books in the 1990s and 2000s, but because publishers were not accepting them in the way that they accepted books by and about white people. That problem continues today, but things have improved in recent years.
Check out the 17 great fantasy series I've picked out for you below, and sprinkle a little reading magic over your life.
The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Life has already been mapped out for Alanna and Thom, who are destined to become a lady and a knight, but the twins have other ideas. Alanna disguises herself as a boy to take Thom's place as a page, while he goes off to study magic. But with evil afoot in the world, keeping her identity a secret will be the least of Alanna's problems.
The Dragon Tetralogy by Laurence Yep
In this retelling of Chinese mythology, Laurence Yep follows Shimmer, a dragon princess living in exile, and Thorn, an orphaned servant boy, as they attempt to restore the waters of Shimmer's homeland, the Inland Sea, which have been dried up by a witch named Civet.
The Worlds of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones
Set in a series of alternate realities that have diverged from our history at key moments in time, The Worlds of Chrestomanci begins with Charmed Life, in which a young witch tries to bully the Chrestomanci — the British government official who oversees magic in the country — into letting her live with him, only to be disappeared and replaced with a non-magical lookalike as punishment.
The Tales of Dimwood Forest by Avi
When her boyfriend is eaten by a tyrannical owl, who then refuses to allow her family safe passage to their new home, a young deer mouse named Poppy makes it her mission to change the owl's mind, one way or another.
The Wren Series by Sherwood Smith
After living in hiding for 12 years to escape an evil king's curse, Princess Teresa — "Tess" to her friends — is finally going home, and she's getting to bring along Wren, her best friend from the orphanage. But when Tess is kidnapped, Wren must assemble a group of sympathizers willing to fight for the princess' freedom.
'The Legend of Tarik' by Walter Dean Myers
OK, so The Legend of Tarik isn't a series of books, but it is fantasy, and it's written by Walter Dean Myers, so I just had to include it here. After watching a tyrant slaughter his family, Tarik is enslaved and taken far from his home, to the murderer's native land. He grows up with one mission: to train and gather the necessary resources to defeat the evil El Muerte.
The Children of the Red King Series by Jenny Nimmo
Charlie Bone is 10 years old when he learns that he is one of the Children of the Red King: descendants of an ancient magician, whose lineage endows them with magical gifts. Carted off to Bloor's Academy to study with other endowed children, Charlie uses his newfound ability to hear the voices of people in photographs to solve the mystery of a missing child.
The Leven Thumps Series by Obert Skye
The first 14 years of Leven Thumps' life have not been happy or exciting, having been spent living in Oklahoma with his aunt and uncle, who never wanted him in the first place. But when a strange creature named Clover and a white-haired girl called Winter show up in Leven's life, inexplicable things begin to happen, and Leven finds out what he was born to do.
The Catwings Series by Ursula K. Le Guin
Jane Tabby loves her children, even if she doesn't understand why they were born with wings on their backs. Knowing that the city is a dangerous place, and even more so for her little brood, Jane asks her four kittens — Roger, Thelma, Harriet, and James — to flee for the country, where they might live in peace.
The Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander
After Theo prints a controversial pamphlet that gets his master killed, the former printer's devil teams up with a motley crew — the con artist Las Bombas, his dwarf attendant Musket, and a spunky urchin named Mickle — to hide from the king's power-hungry minister, Cabbarus.
The Legend of Little Fur by Isobelle Carmody
Obernewtyn Chronicles author Isobelle Carmody has a fantasy series for young readers that you may have overlooked. The Legend of Little Fur centers on the eponymous half-elf, half-troll as she sets out to save the seven trees that protect her magical home, after learning that they are slated for destruction in the non-magical world.
The Princess Irene and Curdie Duology by George MacDonald
A magical fairytale with a little girl heroine, The Princess and the Goblin was first published in the 1870s. The story follows Princess Irene, an eight-year-old who finds blessings from her great-great-grandmother in a secret attic, and her new friend, a young miner named Curdie, as they attempt to thwart an invasion by the evil goblins who live beneath the kingdom.
The Pixie Tricks Series by Tracey West
Remember those chapter books you bought just for the stickers? Turns out some of them were actually pretty great. In Tracey West's Pixie Tricks series, eight-year-old Violet is tasked with finding and returning 14 wayward pixies to the fairy world.
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Adopted as a baby, Twig has never fit in with the other people in his parents' village, mainly because he isn't a woodtroll like them. Determined to belong somewhere, Twig sets out through the dangerous forest to find his place in, or beyond, the Deepwoods.
The Doran Series by Monica Furlong
In Dark Ages Britain, Juniper takes in an orphan known as Wise Child, whom she hopes will take her place as doran, or earth-witch, when she is gone. But when Wise Child's mother, a black-magic sorceress, appears, the little girl must choose which magical path she will follow.
The Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black
Always on tour with her mom's rock band, Kaye has never lived a conventional life. But her whole world is turned upside down when she rescues Roiben, a knight of the Unseelie Court, an act of kindness that plunges Kaye deep into the darkest corners of the faerie world.
The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
Sent to a London boarding school in the wake of tragedy, Gemma suddenly begins having visions of her mother's suicide. Tailed by a mysterious young man who has followed her all the way from India, Gemma sets off on a long journey into the world of magic and mayhem that exists beyond her own.