General Question

Supergirl's avatar

Great fantasy fiction books for middle/high school students?

Asked by Supergirl (1686points) January 30th, 2008

My students love fantasy fiction and I am running out of series to recommend! Harry Potter, Looking Glass Wars, Pendragon, Spiderwick Chronicles, Artemis Fowl have all been read/suggested. Other ones I don’t know about?

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54 Answers

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Brave New World

Perchik's avatar

I loved the Golden compass series at that age…. especially w/ the controversy now, I’d suggest it.

paulc's avatar

I guess it qualifies as fantasy but definitely fiction, Anthem by Ayn Rand. Another good one is The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (which is set in a much warmer future version of Labrador, how obscure).

Supergirl's avatar

Keep in mind that these are middle school kids…

jessie's avatar

I enjoyed the Eragon books, even though I’m a grown up. I think that two out of the three books are on shelves at the moment.

Also, The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings are great books for kids that age.

paulc's avatar

@Supergirl, I read both of those in my last year of middle school – I don’t think they’re very difficult reads but I guess it depends on the literacy level of your students.

I second the recommendation of The Hobbit though you may find that it is on par in difficulty with the other books I recommended earlier.

skfinkel's avatar

What about “20 thousand leagues under the sea”? Maybe not science fiction, but filled with words that you have to look up—maybe not a bad thing.

sdeutsch's avatar

I started reading Ray Bradbury and Orson Scott Card when I was that age, and I couldn’t get enough of them. I’d especially recommend the Ender’s Game series, and if they like fantasy, the Alvin Maker books are great too.

There’s also all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books – I’ve been reading the Wrinkle in Time series every few years since I was 8, and I love it more every time…

Eleanor's avatar

The Belgariad, there’s 5 books in total. It’s pretty in depth but it’s alot of fun to read. And also Dragonlance is pretty awesome there’s like 60 odd books, so there’s a never ending supply of material.

pope52's avatar

Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
Otherland – Tad Williams
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

DryaUnda's avatar

I recommend The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, it’s not fiction per se but it’s about fantasy fiction. Nothing says “learning experience” like learning to spot clichés.

lifeflame's avatar

I second the following:

David Edding’s Belgariad is very readable, very funny. My favourite series of his, though, is the Elenium (“The Diamond Throne”). The banter between the characters is delivcious.

Dragonlance – go right to the beginning and start with “Dragons of the Autumn Twilight.” Great characters there. Also anything in general by Margaret Weis & Tracy HickmanThe Death Gate Cycle and The Star of the Guardians series spring to mind.

Orson Scott Card (Ender’s series) and Robert Silverberg (“Lord Valentine’s Castle”) are among my favourite SF writers. Isaac Asimov has clever plots.

I would also add:
Anne McCaffrey‘s Dragons of Pern series. Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern is my personal favourite. That one is about a young girl with a lot of musical talent finding her place in at Harperhall—very apt for young people trying to figure out how to “fit in” – I must have re-read that one so many times.

Raymond E. Fiest’s Riftwar series is pretty accessible. My personal favourite is “Shadow of a Dark Queen.”

andrew's avatar

Oooh, I second the Anne McCaffrey.

Also Ursula K Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea quadrology.

Amurph's avatar

I’m such a sci-fi, fantasy geek – and that’s the age where I really got into it. All of the above books are GREAT sugesttions (esp. ‘The Golden Compass’ for that age group and how they’re learning to look at the world, as well as the ‘Ender’ books by Orson Scott Card, and the Eragon series is a lot of fun, if sometimes rather cliche), I’ll try not to second anything anyone else mentioned.

- ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry is an absolute MUST read, great for social context and learning.
– ‘Into the Wild’ by Sarah Beth Durst is something I read recently which made me wish had been around when I was in middle school.

syz's avatar

What got me started in Science Fiction was “The Blue Sword” and “The Hero and the Crown” by Robin McKinley. I still go back and re-read them periodically.

syz's avatar

They tell the story of girls who are “different” or don’t seem to “fit in” and find their place in the world and excel.

cwilbur's avatar

John Christopher – there’s a series that ends with The City of Gold and Lead – about Earth being invaded and a bunch of teenagers resisting it.

gooch's avatar

Stephenie Meyer – 1.Twilight, 2.Eclipse, 3.New Moon. My daughter loves this series she awaits each one.

ironhiway's avatar

CS Lewis Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series.

aielee's avatar

Oh, I love this question!

I wholeheartedly second the Golden Compass suggestions as well as anything by Madeliene L’Engle.

The House of The Scorpion by Nancy Farmer was terrific as, I hear, are her other books.

Summerland by Michael Chabon is wonderful, baseball and fantasy!

Holes by Louis Sachar is a great great story.

I read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley when I was in 9th or 10th grade and absolutely loved it. This might be a good pick for girls who love to read.

Lastly, Coraline by Neil Gaiman is an awesome little for young people, but kind of scary—so not for the weak of heart. And his book Stardust would also be great for young readers.

finkelitis's avatar

I thought all the books I loved when I was that age would be on here, but I only see a few of them. Let me add some authors, in the order I read them:

Lloyd Alexander, start with The Book of Three, then finish the set of five.

I second John Christoper. Check out his Tripod series, starting with The White Mountains (though this is more sci-fi).

Terry Brooks amazing Shannara series, starting with The Sword of Shannara.

Finally, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Their Dragonlance series (Chronicles—don’t go for the millions of imitations their original trilogy spawned) is good, but I thought the Rose of the Prophet series was amazing (start with The Will of the Wanderer). Another that may be even better is their Death Gate cycle, starting with Dragon Wing.

I’d also like to second Coraline, which is just great storytelling.

Also I’m reading a graphic novel right now called Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, by Miyazaki (the filmmaker who made Spirited Away and lots of other movies). Nausicaa is truly an amazing story, and one of the great inspirational antiwar characters of all time. If you are willing to go beyond novels, I’d recommend reading all the Nausicaa books too.

lifeflame's avatar

Nausicaa! Yes yes yes yes yes!
Hugely influential for me… and really an alternative conception between “good” and “evil”

Oh, I forgot about Terry Brooks. Second that.

kt5405's avatar

I never liked fantasy books as a student, but still remember Beowolf, (or is it Beowulf). I was surprised to see they had made it into movie,with Angelina Jolie, no less. Not sure it’s a kid’s movie. But we read Beowulf and also Grendel, in middle school. They cover the fantasy theme and are classics, as well.

My favorite books as a middle schooler were Cry the Beloved Country and To KIll a Mockingbird, some would say they are fantasy of a different kind. Both teach of compassion and deal with themes of apartheid and racism, topics that need to be discussed and addressed with students, the younger the better.

sarahsugs's avatar

The Susan Cooper books! I can’t believe no one has suggested them yet! They are AMAZING. The sequence is called The Dark is Rising. The prequel is Over Sea Under Stone, then The Dark is Rising (which won a Newbury award), then I think Greenwitch, The Grey King, and Silver on the Tree. I may have missed one in there. But seriously. They are AWESOME.

andrew's avatar

Oh! Susan Cooper!!! Yes!!! Also Lloyd Alexander!

Lightlyseared's avatar

Redwall by Brian Jacques. I read it when I was 10 and loved it but it may be a bit young for students perhaps.

witty_wallflower's avatar

I’m in high school, and some of the biggest series books that I love and a lot of my friends love are the Twilight series, Inheritance series (Eragon, Eldest, and now Brisingr by Christopher Paolini) and the Maximum Ride series. I’m not really into the girly, preppy stuff like the Gossip Girls, but there’s a lot of selection out there for that kind of stuff.

Also, Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is one of my favorites. It is also the first of a trilogy; it’s a great retelling of Peter Pan. The books may be intimidating (they’re pretty thick) but they’re a quick and easy read.

occ's avatar

Definitely any of the Madeleine L’Engle books (starting with A Wrinkle in Time). And, of course, all of the Narnia boks and the whole Wizard of Oz series – there are 14 Oz books, not just the Wizard of Oz, and they are really wonderful books. L. Frank Baum also has two magic books that aren’t in the Oz series: The Magical Monarch of Mo, and Queen Xixi of Ix. But I wouldn’t read those till you’ve exhausted all the Oz books, which are better.

Also, these don’t fall into science fiction, but are about magic – I loved all of the books by Edward Eager when I was younger – you can start with Half Magic and go from there. They are all about “regular” kids who somehow fall into a magical situation or acquire magical powers of some kind. I read them mostly in 3rd grade but I was an advanced reader, so might be good for some 5th graders. If your students like books about witches, Ruth Chew has lots of books that fall into that category, and they are very short and easy to read, in case you have kids who are reading below-grade-level.

re: Ailee’s suggestion about Mists of Avalon – it is a great whirlwind of a book, I loved it in 9th grade, but it’s probably not appropriate for 5th graders unless you have a particularly mature and very voracious reader in your class- it’s close to 1,000 pages long!

delirium's avatar

I second all terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman suggestions and would also like to list Garth Nix.
I loved him when I was that age. The abhorsen series of his is amazing. Really…. really amazing.

I also loved watership downs when I was that age.

blueberryme's avatar

Ooh, I couldn’t believe no one had mentioned the Susan Cooper books, but then I got to sarahsugs – well done! :) Please tell any skeptical students to ignore whatever atrocities Hollywood hast wrought on this excellent series. And all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books are great for the age.

Zaxwar91's avatar

I am also a high schooler, and i recommend anything thats gonna cause you to actually read a book, especially at this age. For middle schoolers i would recommend Tolkien, and McCaffrey, but when they hit high school try something a little more challenging such as Salvatore, and Goodkind, even though i have to say, if you can get a middle schooler to actually sit down and read The Lord of the Ring series, whoever you are, you are amazing.

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shrubbery's avatar

The Time Machine by H.G Wells, Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis, anything by Terry Pratchett, Deltora Quest/Rowan series by Emily Rodda, His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pulman, The Fire Within/Icefire/FireStar/The Fire Eternal by Chris D’Lacy, the Arthur trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Spook’s Apprentice Series by Joseph Delaney, Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill, The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson, North Child by Edit Patou, The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver…

ashii1502's avatar

Hey there I think the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is the best fantasy series i have read so far! The best thing about it is that they are being made into movies.
I have seen The lion, the witch and the wardrobe! It’s amazing!
I am really looking forward to Prince Caspian. It’s reeasing on the 16th of May, 2008.
It’s great!
I came across the link. I thought I’d share it with you.

zahava85's avatar

Also, the “Uglies” series.. definitely written for middle schoolers/young high school by
Scott Westerfeld

steelmarket's avatar

I know a teenager who is gleefully plowing his way through the Death Gate series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, would rather read it than eat (and that is saying a lot).

xxzodiacxx6's avatar

I loved the Darkangel by Merideth Ann Pierce.

sdeutsch's avatar

I just finished the first of the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones, and I loved it (I’ve gotten on a young-adult fantasy book kick lately…) She also wrote Howl’s Moving Castle, which I haven’t read yet, but it was an excellent movie, so I’d bet the book is pretty great too.

I also just read Sorcery and Cecilia which I would definitely recommend to middle school girls – probably not so interesting for the boys, though. The really cool thing about it is that it was written by two women who created characters for themselves and wrote letters to each other for several months, without ever discussing the plot, and this book was the end result. Could make for a pretty neat writing assignment for middle/high school kids too…

KimberlyLD's avatar

Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke was a huge hit with my Middle School students. The heroine is a little girl and it’s an action packed adventure story with lessons and “believe in yourself” kinds of motifs that really hooked my 6th,7th,8th Graders. I read a little to them each morning at the start of class and they were all (boys and girls alike) genuinely into it.

I no longer am teaching, but have recently read Arabat by Clive Barker which would also be a good middle/young adult reader series (two books). But, be sure to pic up the ones with the illustrations, they are integral to the story.

There are also the Septimus Heap novels by Angie Sage, a very nice middle reader series about a family of Wizards. classic good and evil stuff in an accessible middle school format.

For High School there is the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer, not a lot of “substance” but the books are engaging and move a several thread story line forward at a great pace.

I would definitely agree with the suggestion of the His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman novels for a “reread” in High School, I know many read it elementary, but there is so much they miss about those novels at the younger ages.

If you have advanced and bored high school students there is Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dante’s Inferno and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. These would be for advanced and mature high school audiences as would require some in depth discussion.

For the crossover group 8th-9th grade try the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis written for children, but the entire series is an engaging and time filling read. Without demanding too much, and perhaps just enough of the reader.

Good Luck!

dadodude93's avatar

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan – series (so far 4 books)- about a demigod who must save the world from Kronos, the king of the titans.
Ilium, and its sequel, Olympos, by Dan Simmons – 3 stories that mesh together, this book is about cyborgs, the Trojan War, and the future of the Earth.
Maximum Ride by James Patterson – series – about six children who were grafted with bird DNA and escape and their adventures
Eragon (Inheritance series) by Christopher Paolini – read it and then you’ll understand
Also, any book or series by Anthony Horowitz, Orson Scott Card or Scott Westerfeld is great.
If your students are very patient, than Tolkien or Madeleine L’Engle might be good authors for them to read.

steelmarket's avatar

James Patterson is starting a new SF series for young adults, similar to the Maximum Ride series. First book is called The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. It is a fun, clean book.

dadodude93's avatar

@steelmarket: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is so short that the average 8th grader could finish it in less than 3 hours. Although, I have to admit, it was a pretty good book.

Ria777's avatar

@sdeutsch, I like the book of HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE about a thousand times more than the movie. I don’t think Miyazaki understood the book, thorough no fault of his own, or hers. I will leave it at that.

@Supergirl, I think Sylvia Engdahl’s ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS and THE FAR SIDE OF EVIL. I haven’t read her other works. also Le Guin’s first three Earthsea books (they supposedly go downhill from there). THE SWORD IN THE STONE and the rest of the Arthur books by T. H. White. (usually sold in one volume nowadays.) I want to suggest RED SHIFT by Alan Garner. totally different from the kind of pulp fun fantasy (you can hear the snob in me talking). what the hell though, go for it! I want to suggest TITUS GROAN and GORMENGHAST by Mervyn Peake. if they can handle a brick-sized hunk of cheese, they can handle a brick-sized hunk of good writing, I hope.

pretty certain they’d like Diane Duane’s Wizard series. maybe a little too young for them. I think it stars kids about 12 years old.

Ria777's avatar

more: DON’T BITE THE SUN and DRINKING SAPPHIRE WINE by Tanith Lee. great transhumanist ‘70’s sf with a kind of a YA feel and protagonist.

Ria777's avatar

one more: PRETTY MONSTERS by Kelly Link. a collection of her work specifically geared towards the young ‘uns.

Ria777's avatar

PS DON’T BITE THE SUN and its sequel got collected into one volume in the most recent (out of print?) edition.

so, yes: my not-so-secret agenda, to get you to turn on your students to really good (i.e. not cheesy) stuff.

mystuff's avatar

A Wrinkle in Time
Lion Witch Wardrobe

How about Island of the Blue Dolphins—not fantasy/fiction but all my students in ele school loved it.

akhila0608's avatar

twilight,new moon,eclipse,breaking dawn…...this are the best books i had ever read till now…....

Val123's avatar

Dragon Riders of Pern series….

Nullo's avatar

I read The Chronicles of Narnia all to pieces when I was that age.

Val123's avatar

Alice in Wonderland….? To compare how the written word is so superior to any movie.

angelaclaire's avatar

Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest series is fantastic.
I also throw my vote in for Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien.

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