Why You Should Be Reading Fantasy Tales Aloud with Your Kids...and Some Fantastical Read Aloud Suggestions

Discussing fantasy books that hold magic and mystical creatures and heroes on fantastical quests with a group of Christian homeschooling moms can be like navigating a minefield. Some parents are fine with magical stories of any kind. Some approve books in the fantasy genre without magic. But some avoid fantasy stories all together.

In this post, I’m not going to debate whether or not fantasy and magic are appropriate for Christians (although that would make for an interesting post!); but I am going to share what I think is a very compelling reason to be reading fantasy books aloud with your kids.

Why read fantasy to your kids and fantasy reading suggestions

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Why is reading fantasy to important?

There are several themes that are found in fantasy stories that I think are really good themes for our kids to encounter. And it’s even better when we read aloud these fantasy stories and encounter these themes with our kids and have the opportunity to discuss them.

The battle between good and evil

Every good fantasy story has at its core the theme of good versus evil. The struggle between good and evil is one that our kids will continually face in real life. When they can encounter this struggle in a book and have the opportunity to feel a little of the fear of the evil side, a little apprehension as the story approaches a climax, they can be prepared- in a small way- for the feelings they may fear encountering evil in real life. When they experience the thrill of good triumphing over the evil, they learn that good wins. And while good might not evidently win in every situation in real life, as Christians we do have the assurance that God’s ultimate good will triumph in the end.

The strength to face fears and live nobly

Reading about brave heroes helps kids to feel brave. Reading about noble deeds and noble characters helps kids to desire to live nobly. When we present our kids with strong, brave characters in a story, we are giving them models. And even though the stories are make believe, as the kids soak them in, they really do feel stronger and more inspired to do right- even when it’s difficult.

The ability to deal with defeat and struggles and keep trying

Although most fantasy stories have a happy ending, there are sometimes really difficult experiences on the way. Characters suffer defeat and loss. Main characters die or lose loved ones sometimes. And as we read these stories with our kids, we can talk about these moments. We can look together at how the characters dealt with the struggles they encountered. What did they do when they faced difficulty and defeat. The theme of overcoming these obstacles and triumphing in the end is a prevalent one in the fantasy genre and can provide opportunity for some really good, thoughtful discussion.

Before I share with you some of our favorite fantasy stories, I have another recommendation to share. Andrew Pudewa from IEW has an audio talk- Fairy Tales and the Moral Imagination. This is an excellent and thoughtful presentation about the benefits of fairy tales and fantastical stories. This isn’t an affiliate link. It’s just a talk I’ve heard him give and loved. It’s only $3, so it’s very worth checking out to hear his thoughts about sharing fairy tales with our children,

Why read fantasy aloud and fantasy reading suggestions

And a few of our favorite fantasy stories:

Redwall by Brian Jacques– This is just one in a series of books, some featuring the same characters in this story, others featuring different characters and events all together. Animals are the featured characters in the stories, and they are definitely fantastical with all of the good themes for discussion. There is no magic in the books (at least not the many we’ve read!).

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis– I think the Chronicles make it on every single book list that I write! They really are that good. They do have magic- both good magic and evil magic. They do an excellent job of covering the themes I mentioned- as well as many other great themes for discussion.

Kingdom Tales Trilogy by David and Karen Mains– These three books contain allegorical tales of good versus evil. Beginning with two brother escaping from the Enchanted City and following their story and the people they meet, the tales are all about the liberating of the Enchanted City and following the truly good King. There is magic here- both of the good and evil variety. We’ve been introduced to these books as a part of our My Father’s World curriculum this year, and they have become favorites.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl– At first glance, you might not lump this more light-hearted read in with other fantasy novels. But it definitely has some struggle between good and evil and the theme of keeping hope and overcoming difficulties and struggles. This is one that can be a fun read and still give opportunities for some good discussion- especially discussion about the characters and their good and bad traits.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum– This is another lighter fantasy novel that still offers some good opportunities for discussion amid the fun and imaginative adventures of Dorothy and her dog Toto when they get caught up in a tornado. If you’ve only ever watched the movie, it’s definitely worth it to read the book. The book is almost always better. In this case, there is more to the story in the book than in the movie. And the book can be read and discussed on different levels depending on the comprehension of the reader. This is another one that makes for a great real aloud.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling– Although these books aren’t necessarily written from a Christian worldview, there are many, many elements of the series that lend themselves to some great discussion. There is the classic battle of good evil as well as sacrifice and love for friends. There’s also lots of great opportunity to discuss what makes a hero and the characteristics of the “good” players in the Harry Potter drama in contrast to the characteristics of the “bad.”

Reading aloud provides an excellent opportunity to very good discussion, and fantasy books lend themselves to big thoughts and deep perusal. I encourage you to read them aloud with your kids.

What’s your favorite fantasy series for family read aloud?

What to Read Wednesday

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