One of my favorite things we have studied in Children’s Literature is fantasy stories. There are so many out there, but I wholeheartedly believe that the best fantasy books are the ones for kids. Children do have the best imaginations, don’t they? So we (and when I say “we” I mean people our there who are actually good at writing) need to write some great stories for them.
There are two types of fantasy stories. High fantasy are stories that take place in a world completely separate and different from our own world. Some of the most famous secondary worlds that have been created for children’s books are Middle Earth (from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien) and Narnia (from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis). Authors who are creative enough to build a whole new magical world have my admiration… I don’t think my brain is big enough to do that!
The other type of fantasy story is low fantasy. In these stories, the setting is our real world with some fantasy elements intertwined into it. A famous example is Charlotte’s Web which takes place on a farm, but as we all know, the animals can talk. There are certain things that low fantasy stories often incorporate:
1. Anthropomorphism – giving human characteristics to animals (or anything that isn’t human), like the ability to talk or drive a car.
2. Magical toys – toys coming to life! This is a reflection of a child’s imaginative play… pretend play. The most famous children’s stories with toys coming to life are Pinocchio and Winnie-the-Pooh.
3. Ghost stories – self-explanatory. Kids love ’em.
4. Time-travel – this is a fantasy element that shows up in all sorts of venues: TV, movies, and literature. There is a famous series of children’s books, Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne, about a tree house turning into a time machine and taking the children back and forth through time. Fun!
I’m wondering what are your favorite children’s books that are fantasy stories? Mine are the Narnia series and the Harry Potter books. Let me know what you love!