Fantasy is what I like to do the most. That’s what I want for my daughter now that she’s born. The good news is that there are a lot of fantasy books for kids out there to read. But that can also be a lot to deal with. My job as a middle school reading tutor and as a young adult and middle grade shelver at work showed me how hard it is for parents to find books for their kids that are the right age. And publishers aren’t very helpful with their age ranges: 6–10 years, 1st grade–7th grade, and so on. These are some big age groups for kids. So I’ve put books together by age and grade. They give such wide ranges for a reason, but There is no one-size-fits-all reading level for a child. Use the categories as a guide to reading levels, not as a hard line to keep you from reading too fast or too slow.
Fantasy Books For Babies and Toddlers (0–3)
My Mom Is Magical by Sabrina Moyle, Illustrated by Eunice Moyle
A magical unicorn and a mythical yeti appear in “My Mom Is Magical.” “My Dad Is Amazing,” which features a mythical yeti, is also a fun way to show how amazing parents (and their kids!) are.
Once Upon A World: The Little Mermaid by Hannah Eliot, Illustrated by Nivea Ortiz
If you’re a fan of the Little Mermaid, you’ll love this Caribbean twist on the story!
In her heart, the Little Mermaid wants to know what life is like above the ocean. When she’s old enough to go, she falls in love with a prince! if the prince doesn’t love the mermaid, the spell won’t work. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, this is the fifth book in the Once Upon a World series. It’s set in the Caribbean and has beautiful illustrations by Puerto Rican artist Nivea Ortiz.
We all know and love the fairy tales from Once Upon a World, but this book gives them a new twist. They are for everyone, everywhere.
Goodnight, Dragons By Judith L. Roth, Illustrated By Pascal Lemaitre
Everyone needs a hug. It might be that dragons are more interesting than most other things. These fire breathers are no match for the brave dragon tamer who comes to put them to sleep at night. Goodnight, Dragons is going to be a classic bedtime story. “Goodnight, Dragons is as warm and cozy as a hot cup of cocoa.”
If I Had A Gryphon By Vikki Vansickle, Illustrated By Cale Atkinson
This is how it works: “Sam just got an animal to play with.” She isn’t very excited. His life isn’t all that interesting. He mostly sleeps, gets his bedding wet while eating, then tries to dry it off. BORING! After reading a book about mythical creatures, Sam comes up with ideas for more interesting pets to have. But soon, she realizes that taking care of these magical animals might not be as fun as she thought it would be, even though she thought it would be. A fire extinguisher is always a good idea, but dragons seem like a lot of work. Unicorns are shy, and the dogs at the dog park are scared by the gryphons.
The hamster might be the best pet for her. She might like it. Right?
Where’s The Unicorn By Nosy Crow, Illustrated By Ingela P. Arrhenius
When you lift the felt flaps, you’ll find four magical creatures hidden inside. You’ll also find a mirror under the fifth and last flap! As a parent, I love these books because they are stylish and strong. My kids love them because they are fun and easy to play with.
Day Dreamers By Emily Winfield Martin
Emily Winfield Martin tells people that letting their imaginations run wild will lead them to have fantastical daydreams. Children in this picture book find themselves in places where magical creatures like dragons, unicorns, griffins, and jackalopes live. They go cloud-gazing, read a book, or play in a tide pool. A wacky rhyme goes with the dreamy pictures.
Today I’ll Be a Unicorn by Dana Simpson
“The stars of Phoebe and Her Unicorn celebrate the magical and enchanting world of being a unicorn in this cute, super-sparkly board book. They also remind young readers that being yourself is pretty great, too.”
There is no one who doesn’t want to be a unicorn. You get to trot gracefully through meadows, perch high above the ground on rainbows, and wear tiaras made of starlight, all in one day. Phoebe is excited about having a tail and a magic horn. It was until she found out that they don’t like pizza, but they like hay, not pizza. Is there a chance that she will be a unicorn tomorrow?
Fantasy Books For Preschoolers And Kindergartners
The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight by Elli Woollard
What do you think?
When a strange-looking creature slams into the lake, a kind young boy comes to help. When you look at him, though, he’s not just any boy. He’s a knight in training! The dragon is a young one, and he’s on his first hunt for a knight who likes to eat.
The Magician’s Hat By Malcolm Mitchell, Illustrated By Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Malcolm Mitchell tells the story of a magician who shows off awe-inspiring books from his bag of tricks. Books that make every child’s dream come true!
It’s not your run-of-the-mill library day. A magician invites kids to reach into his hat and pull out what they find when they dig down. Everyone leaves with a better gift than they could have dreamed of, like a book that helps them become whatever they want to be and makes their dreams come true through pages, words, and adventures. Even though each child wonders, “What is making the magic happen?”
Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima
Uni the Unicorn and Gaston are two books that are both heartwarming and adorable. This first picture book tells the story of a young unicorn who was born under the sea to a family of narwhals. Kelp has always thought he was a narwhal like the rest of his family because he grew up in the ocean. Sure, he’s always been a little different. His tusk isn’t as long, he can’t swim as well, and he doesn’t like the food. In the middle of the night, a strong current pulls Kelp up to the surface. He sees a strange creature that looks just like him. Kelp learns that he and the creature are unicorns. In the wake of the revelation, he is torn: Is he an animal that lives on land or a sea unicorn? It’s possible, though, that Kelp is clever enough to get both worlds.
Jessie Sima’s first picture book is all about fitting in and standing out, and it’s told with heartwarming illustrations and simple, sweet text. It’s also about the love of family.
A Big Mooncake For Little Star By Grace Lin
“A beautiful picture book that tells a fun story about how the phases of the moon came to be from award-winning, best-selling author-illustrator Grace Lin.” People keep on patting each other on the back. To get to the Big Mooncake, Little Star’s soft feet twirled to the end of the table When Little Star and her mom make Mooncakes together, they love how tasty they are. But she can’t eat any yet. When she can’t resist a bite, what will happen?
Grace Lin, a Newbery Honor-winning author, has written a beautiful picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky. In it, she tells a heartwarming story about the phases of the moon.
The Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful By Nancy Tupper Ling, Illustrated by Andrea Offerman
It doesn’t matter how big or small Mei and Wei are; when they work as a team, they can even fight a dragon.” When a dragon takes over their village bridge, twin sisters Mei and Wei have different ideas about how to fix it. Wei wants to fight the dragon head on, but Mei prefers to think things through first. Having Wei’s confidence and gumption, as well as Mei’s creativity and hard work, it’s only a matter of time before everyone is back to being happy again.
Celebrate your differences and find out that what makes you unique is also what makes you a powerful team in this inspiring story about siblings who work together well.
Drawn Together by Minh Lê, Illustrated by Dan Santat
It can be hard for a young boy and his grandfather to communicate because they don’t speak the same language.” With a shared love of art and stories, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.
In this moving picture book about reaching across barriers, Minh Lê writes simple, clear text and Caldecott Medal winner Dan Santat paints dazzling images. It will be read and admired for years to come.
Ta-Da! By Kathy Ellen Davis, Illustrated By Kaylani Juanita
Good stories are about what? In one little girl’s mind, it’s a princess with magical powers that can do anything. What does her friend think is the cause of all the chaos? A mix of fire, dragons, and pirate ships! The two young storytellers soon learn that a good story must have both conflict and resolution, which is why their stories start to connect. This beautiful picture book is an irresistible celebration of imaginary play, storytelling, and the joys of working together. It features two strong voices all the way through, making it the perfect read-aloud.