Best books about magic for Harry Potter fans
If your child, like millions of others worldwide, is spellbound by Hogwarts and dreams of shopping for school supplies in Diagon Alley and being sorted by the Sorting Hat, they might find any non-Potter reads unappealing. We asked primary teacher and children's literature reviewer Scott Evans to share his picks of the best books for J K Rowling fans to ensure that the reading magic continues.
The Nowhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie(£6.99, Kelpies)
This Blue Peter Best Story Award 2016 winner unravels a world of wonder with every page. For me, it's as close to the perfect children's book as is possible. Join Daniel as he stumbles upon the Nowhere Emporium, a shop that has offers no limits to the imagination and changes his life forever. Mesmerising and magical in equal measure, a sequel, The Elsewhere Emporium, awaits those readers (your children!) who will be craving more.
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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend(£6.99, Orion)
Step boldly in to the wunderfully-imagined world of Nevermoor (if you read the book you'll see why I've spelt it like this!), where ten-year-old Morrigan Crow is destined to die on her eleventh birthday. But as the clock strikes midnight, Morrigan is spirited away to attempt the Wundrous Society trials for children with unique and extraordinary talents (though she doesn't have either, other than cheating death). A story that your children won't be able to put down (thankfully the sequel is now available: Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow).
Northern Lights (His Dark Materials 1) by Philip Pullman(£7.99, Scholastic)
Those who have devoured Harry Potter find themselves naturally drawn to the wonderful world-building of Philip Pullman, with his His Dark Materials trilogy. For slightly older readers (aged 11+), the incredibly popular and wildly magical series begins with Northern Lights, a supernatural and atmospheric adventure for a young girl called Lyra, who lives in a parallel-universe Oxford and travels to frozen kingdoms and lands that are only ever encountered in the best dreams. If you haven't read Pullman's work yourself, consider a family readathon (you'll find yourself looking forward to it as much as the kids!).
Leon and the Place Between by Angela McAllister & Grahame Baker-Smith(£6.99, Templar)
Transported to a mysterious world, Leon finds himself involved in a great magic show – where magic really exists. If you want to discover for yourself the place where things actually disappear to, then the Place Between is calling for you! Take your children on an extraordinary journey as you delve deeper and deeper into the unbelievable, captured by the superb illustrations of Baker-Smith. A beautiful read.
The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson(£5.99, Macmillan)
Some call this story the 'original Harry Potter', and it's easy to see why. As in the Potter universe, King's Cross Station is a portal: every nine years, a secret door (a gump) leads to the most magical of underworlds. From master storyteller Eva Ibbotson, best-known for Journey to the River Sea, comes this book full of fantasy and mythical creatures: giants, mermaids, water nymphs, wizards, witches, hags and merrows (read the book to find out who they are!).
The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle(£6.99, Bloomsbury)
It is no wonder that this brilliant read was recently chosen as Waterstones' Children's Book of the Month: magic and myth combine to make The Storm Keeper's Island a novel like no other. Packed with wild (and sometimes sinister) magic, this is a contemporary classic rooted in ancient folklore and mythology and a fast-paced, breathtaking read.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick(£16.99, Scholastic)
I have had the immense pleasure of reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret to many classes and each of them has had the same reaction: the book captured the interest and emotions of the children so much so that they were asking for not just one chapter more, but two, three and four throughout the day! The words are just one aspect of the reading experience: marvel at the carefully-crafted illustrations that make this not only a mighty impressive book at 526 pages, but a complete spectacle to behold. Highly recommended.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis(£6.99, HarperCollins)
You'll be wishing you were a child again as you read this to your children and re-encounter the magical realms of Narnia. Snuggle up and read this in the middle of the winter to really feel as though you're immersed in a world where WWII evacuations and ice queens, lions, fauns and world-changing, magical wardrobes converge. It's easy to see why this long-standing classic has stood the test of time (and the kids will be checking the back of their wardrobe every minute in hopes of pushing through the clothes to crunchy snow and pine needles and a lamp post shining in the darkness...).
If you enjoy reading the Narnia books, I'd also suggest The Lost Magician by Piers Torday, a modern-day C. S. Lewis successor.
The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol(£6.99, Chicken House)
After failing her witch evaluation, it looks like it's a doomed life for Arianwyn – but that soon changes when she gets a job protecting the residents and the island of lowly old Lull. Get on your broomstick and get reading for a charming story with a magical heart and a cast of characters that showcase friendship, determination and self-confidence.