Thursday, 25 February 2021

February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day: Best spooky & fantasy books for children

Tell a Fairy Tale Day: My childhood favourite spooky and fantasy books for fairy tale lovers

February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day: Best spooky & fantasy books for children
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People connect with stories, the real and the fantastical. Fairy tales submerge us in a fantasy world and teach us about life and morality. I've always been an avid reader. I remember how exciting it was to graduate from picture books to the young adult genre. When I was growing up I was drawn to fantasy stories. I loved books that create a magical world and stories that scare me. Fantasy stories are an exciting escape from reality and for National Tell a Fairy Tale Day I'm going to share a few of my favourite fantasy books I read growing up. Maybe your kids will enjoy these stories as much as I did.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I was that kid at the library who borrowed the same books over and over. The one I borrowed the most was a large, blue hardcover book that contained both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass illustrated by John Tenniel. The book contained footnotes that gave the reader insight into the author and the story. As an adult, I've never been able to find that exact copy. I loved scary stories, and there is something terrifying about these books. Alice gets lost alone in a world where logic and reason are flipped and twisted. She can't find her way home, and she almost loses her head. Unlike the Disney adaptation Alice in Wonderland, the real stories are darker and far more interesting. I wished that I could explore Carroll's trippy Wonderland, as long as I could find my way out... 


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

This book was another I checked out of the library repeatedly. My local library had a green fabric hardcover version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that was beautifully illustrated by Greg Hilderbrandt. I remember examining each illustration; the colourful depictions of the land of Oz were one of the reasons why I read the book again and again. It was so beautiful it was checked out and never returned, which upset me a lot. This book inspired one of the best films ever created, 1939's The Wizard of Oz. But there is a deeper story in the book and much of the character development was lost on screen. Every child should read the true story of Oz. 


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis


I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, but The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was my favourite story. I still have a copy of the TV series based on the book that was released in 1988. Lewis created a world that was fantastical enough to inspire seven books. This series had many classic fantasy elements like fauns, witches, and talking animals. At my elementary school, this book was on the curriculum. I wanted desperately to travel to Narnia when I was a kid. I tried every closet and wardrobe I could find, but the only way I could ever make it there was on the page. 

kids books


The Witches
by Roald Dahl

The Witches by Roald Dahl book


I love Roald Dahl! He wrote classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. But my favourite by far was The Witches. I will always be obsessed with witches. This book took everything you knew about witches and threw it in a cauldron to boil. This book was terrifying and unexpected. The 1990 film adaptation is, to this day, one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. The newest 2020 film version of The Witches failed to capture the creepiness and suspense that both the first film and the book created so masterfully. Dahl is one of the most creative minds to ever exist in modern literature and his witches are too.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


A trip through darkness and light, A Wrinkle in Time didn't shy away from the same morality lessons that fairy tales are built on. This book is as much science fiction as it is fantasy. The film adaptation didn't do the story justice, but how do you take a story like this off the page and onto the screen? It's hard to believe anyone that creative exists. The religious undertones make this a more mature read, and I admit I found it hard to follow when I was young and had to revisit it when I was a little bit older. It was also part of my school curriculum. 


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling


I was a bit older when the Harry Potter series debuted, but it was impossible to ignore the story about the young wizard who was becoming more and more popular. The first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is my favourite out of the entire series, and the film adaptations were brilliant. This book brought to life a trope I adore- teens learning magic for the first time. Who didn't want an invitation to Hogwarts? It was impossible not to fall in love with the characters and want to read along as they got older and their magic grew.


The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


What's more magical than talking animals? This book is very old, first published in 1908, and I'm not sure if kids still read it. I read The Wind In The Willows a few times when I was young. It isn't your typical fantasy story. Slower than some kid's books, the story really ramps up when Toad starts crashing cars and is sent to prison. This story inspired Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which I enjoyed at Disney's Magic Kingdom in Florida before the ride was retired. The ride still exists at Disneyland in California. 


In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories retold by Alvin Schwartz

Saint Bernese scary book


Full of spooky tales and horrifying poems, In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories was a big part of my childhood. The original version has terrifying illustrations that haunted my dreams and to this day I still have a copy. The Girl with the Green Ribbon is my favourite story of the bunch. It was my go-to spooky campfire story. Now the story of the girl whose head falls off is a meme, but when I was growing up the twist at the end of the story was shocking. It is a great 'I Can Read' book for kids who like spooky stories but you've been warned- it's not for kids who scare easily.


Goosebumps: Say Cheese and Die by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps R.L. Stine books


To say I was (and still am) obsessed with R.L. Stine would be an understatement. It started with the Goosebumps series and graduated to the more mature Fear Street series. Stine's plot twists, injections of comedy, and supernatural scares never disappointment me. I'm slowly building back my collection (pictured above) of both with original cover art by searching for books at yard sales, thrift stores, and used book stores. Say Cheese and Die is my favourite book in the Goosebumps series. Maybe it's the photographer in me, but I love the idea of a camera that captures people's future demise. Reader beware, you're in for a scare!


Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thorton Jones

Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots by Debbie Dadey

Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots is a totally obscure book reference, but my classmates and I were obsessed with this book! I always remembered this book, but I didn't realize until researching it for this post that it was part of a monster-inspired series called The Adventures of The Bailey School Kids. This book was a Scholastic book fair bestseller. I remember so little about the plot of this book that I'm not even sure their new teacher Mrs. Jeepers really was a vampire or not.


February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day: Best spooky & fantasy books for children


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February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day: Best spooky & fantasy books for children


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