Series Gift Guide For Your Fantasy Fanatic

Both of my children (ages 8 and 10) recently suffered the devastation of coming to the end of a beloved series. This fall brought the end of Rick Riordan’s hugely popular Heroes of Olympus series. When my son got to the end of the last book about a day after it released, he went right back to The Lightning Thief and re-read his favorite books from both of Riordan’s series. The exact same thing happened when my daughter finished Harry Potter.

Middle grade readers have a hard time saying goodbye to their favorite characters at the end of a series. That’s part of the reason I like to have a new series queued up for my kids when they get to the end of one—to avoid that post-series let down. And besides, it’s almost Christmas break, so I needed some new series to keep them out of my hair entertained during the school holidays.

The following list is appropriate for a strong middle grade reader and contains both male and female main characters:

  1. The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
    From IndieBound: When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.
  2. Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan
    From IndieBound: They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaksand shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied. . . .
  3. Magic Thief & Winterling series by Sarah Prineas
    From IndieBound: In a city that runs on a dwindling supply of magic, a young boy is drawn into a life of wizardry and adventure. Conn should have dropped dead the day he picked Nevery’s pocket and touched the wizard’s locus magicalicus, a stone used to focus magic and work spells. But for some reason he did not. Nevery finds that interesting, and he takes Conn as his apprentice on the provision that the boy find a locus stone of his own. But Conn has little time to search for his stone between wizard lessons and helping Nevery discover who—or what—is stealing the city of Wellmet’s magic.
  4. Enchanted series by Gail Carson Levine
    From IndieBound: How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.
  5. Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
    From IndieBound:At last, one of the most talked-about novels of last year is now available in an accessible mass-market edition. Twelve-year-old Artemis is a millionaire, a genius-and above all, a criminal mastermind. But Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of the bedtime stories-they’re dangerous!
  6. Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke
    From IndieBound: Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father, a book-binder. But her father has a deep secret– he posseses an extraordinary magical power. One day a mysterious stranger arrives who seems linked to her father’s past. Who is this sinister character and what does he want? Suddenly Meggie is involved in a breathless game of escape and intrigue as her father’s life is put in danger. Will she be able to save him in time?
  7. Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy (third book comes out in April 2015!)
    From IndieBound: Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her baby brother is abducted by a murder of crows. And then things get really weird.
    You see, on every map of Portland, Oregon, there is a big splotch of green on the edge of the city labeled “I.W.” This stands for “Impassable Wilderness.” No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.And this is where the crows take her brother.
  8. The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black
    From IndieBound: It all started with a mysterious letter left at a tiny bookstore for authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Its closing lines: “We just want people to know about this. The stuff that has happened to us could happen to anyone.” Little could they imagine the remarkable adventure that awaited them as they followed Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace and a strange old book into a world filled with elves, goblins, dwarves, trolls, and a fantastical menagerie of other creatures. The oddest part is in entering that world, they didn’t leave this one!
  9. The Book of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau
    From IndieBound: The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.
  10. Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland (sixth book released 30 December, 2014!)
    From IndieBound: The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy — a foretelling that calls for great sacrifice.
    Five dragonets are collected to fulfill the prophecy, raised in a hidden cave and enlisted, against their will, to end the terrible war.
  11. Chronicles of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo
    From IndieBound: Timoken is a prince born in a secret kingdom. At his birth, a forest jinni bestows magical gifts upon him: a cloak made by the last moon spider and a potion called Alixir. When the peaceful land is attacked, Timoken and his sister, Zobayda, must find a new kingdom to call home. Together, with only the magical gifts and a talking camel, the siblings set off.
  12. The Ever Afters series by Shelby Bach
    From IndieBound: When Rory realizes fairy tales are the real deal at Ever After School, she embarks on a classic quest to fulfill her destiny.
  13. Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
    From IndieBound: Conner Bailey thinks his fairy-tale adventures are behind him–until he discovers a mysterious clue left by the famous Brothers Grimm. With help from his classmate Bree and the outlandish Mother Goose, Conner sets off on a mission across Europe to crack a two-hundred-year-old code.
  14. Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud
    From IndieBound: Nathaniel is a young magician’s apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hotshot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of everyone he knows, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who’s boss. With revenge on his mind, he masters one of the toughest spells of all: summoning the all-powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely…
  15. Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix
    From IndieBound: Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. One mysterious house is the doorway to a very mysterious world — where one boy is about to venture and unlock a number of fantastical secrets. This is another thrilling, triumphantly imaginative series from Garth Nix, the best-selling author of THE SEVENTH TOWER, SABRIEL, and LIRAEL.

Even if you don’t have a middle-grade reader on your shopping list, you can still give the gift of reading.

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Julie Artz
JULIE ARTZ spent her childhood sneaking into wardrobes hoping to find Narnia. Now that she's older, people think that’s creepy, so she writes middle grade instead. Her stories for children feature the natural world, folklore, mythology, history, and all that is magical about those things. In addition to contributing to The Mixed Up Files, she works as a developmental editor for Author Accelerator, writes about local Washington history for Gatherings, contributes regularly to The Winged Pen, and is co-RA of SCBWI Western Washington. She is represented by Jennie Dunham of Dunham Lit.
  1. I was surprised by how many of these series I’ve read! I could never get into Artemis Fowl, though. Maybe it’s time for a fresh attempt?

    (Or maybe I’ll wait until I’m not on the brink of nervous collapse from the current state of my to-read list, and dreaming in walls of text.)

    Great list!

  2. Oh thanks for catching that! I got a little over-zealous with my copy-pastes from IndieBound I guess 🙂

  3. I’ve already read a few of these and the others sound amazing. One thing–it looks like number one ended up with number seven’s description. Thanks for such a great list!