The best children’s fantasy books with Christian themes

Marissa Burt Author Of Storybound
By Marissa Burt

The Books I Picked & Why

The Princess and the Goblin

By George MacDonald

Book cover of The Princess and the Goblin

Why this book?

I first discovered George MacDonald’s work in a church library, where his books took up several shelves! The Princess and the Goblin is a great introduction to his fantasy novels. This charming story builds on familiar fairy-tale tropes and offers us ingredients that fantasy readers love: homey characters, growing peril, mysterious magic, and events that require uncommon courage and sacrifice. Follow it up with The Princess and Curdie for more delight.

In doing so you will join a great company of beloved Christian authors who appreciated George MacDonald’s genius: C S Lewis felt that Phantastes “baptized [his] imagination.” My favorite author L.M.Montgomery often reread At the Back of the North Wind. G.K. Chesterton felt "[The Princess and the Goblin] . . . has made a difference to my whole existence . . . ” And even J.R.R. Tolkien thought well of The Golden Key. And I add my wholehearted recommendation! Enjoy!

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Out of the Silent Planet

By C.S. Lewis

Book cover of Out of the Silent Planet

Why this book?

Ideal for middle-grade readers or above, C.S. Lewis’ often overlooked science fiction series transports readers to otherworldly realms and invites us to imagine how the entire universe, with all its accompanying principalities and powers, might be crammed full of the glory of God.

Out of the Silent Planet, the first in the Space Trilogy, introduces us to Ransom, a linguist and accidental hero, whose adventures take him to Mars, Venus (Perelandra), and back to Earth (That Hideous Strength). We watch him adapt to extraterrestrial life, fend off the horrors of interplanetary greed and spiritual colonization, wrestle with the Un-Man, and confront the banal and terrible evils that threaten fallen humanity. As with all of his writing, Lewis brilliantly weaves together intriguing characters, high stakes, and Christian reality.

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On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

By Andrew Peterson, Joe Sutphin

Book cover of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Why this book?

Andrew Peterson is a thoughtful writer, musician, artist, and theologian whose creative work reflects his faith. My children have read the entire Wingfeather Saga many times and whole-heartedly recommend it for other young readers. One of my sons recommends this as a light-hearted yet deep Lord of the Rings-esque saga with touches of comedy, family, and Christian values. And another told me it is an exciting adventure and a funny story that is good for all ages. And I add to that my appreciation for the clever and inspiring artwork that accompanies the stories.

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Hinds' Feet on High Places

By Hannah Hurnard

Book cover of Hinds' Feet on High Places

Why this book?

No Christian fantasy booklist stands complete without an allegory. Assuming you’ve read the G.O.A.T. — Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress — why not give Hurnard’s beautiful story a try? I read this as a girl, joining Much-Afraid as she follows her beloved Shepherd through trials and sorrows to ultimately reach the Kingdom of Love. I revisited this book as an elementary classroom teacher and again while homeschooling my children. 

Hind’s Feet on High Places reminds readers of the virtues of the Christian life: battling craven fear, weeding out selfishness, cultivating charity, learning from sorrow, and always, always, calling out for the Shepherd. This works well as a read-aloud, providing wonderful opportunities for discussion. (The sequels veer into theologically disputable territory, so, as always, read with discernment.)

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The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Why this book?

What fantasy list would be worth its words without mentioning the father of the modern genre? I include the complete trilogy because any competent reader is never too young for The Lord of the Rings — even early elementary children will enjoy this as a read-aloud. While Tolkien was clear that the LOTR is not an allegory, his devout Christian faith shines through in the redemptive themes of self-sacrifice, justice, and benevolent kingship.

I first visited the Shire in junior high and spent subsequent lunchtimes and classes clandestinely poring over its pages. I requested stew with bread and cheese for dinner and wore a ring on a chain, daydreaming about misty mountains, elven feasts, and heroic battles. I’ve never regretted a re-read, and it’s been a great delight to introduce my own children to these beloved pages. If you’re looking for more Tolkien, get your hands on a copy of his underrated Letters from Father Christmas.

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