The best children’s books about mythical creatures

Lindsay Littleson Author Of Guardians of the Wild Unicorns
By Lindsay Littleson

Who am I?

I’m a Scottish writer and have an interest in Scotland’s many mythical creatures. My home country is inhabited by a myriad of mythical creatures, including kelpies, bogles, and mysterious Highland merfolk and I’m sure the natural environment plays a part. The inspiration behind my children’s fantasy novel Guardians of the Wild Unicorns was the fact that the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal. It seemed bizarre that Scotland opted for a mythical creature as a national animal, but when I started to do research into why, all became clear. People in the past believed unicorns were real. Unicorns have a long and proud history in Scotland and were chosen as a symbol of strength, independence, and dignity.

I wrote...

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns

By Lindsay Littleson,

Book cover of Guardians of the Wild Unicorns

What is my book about?

In Guardians of the Wild Unicorns, Lewis and his best friend Rhona find themselves caught up in a dangerous adventure to save the world's last herd of wild unicorns. Fighting against dark forces, battling the wild landscape, and harnessing ancient magic, can they rescue the legendary creatures in time?

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns was described by Book Trust as "an adventure thriller for middle-grade readers that mixes mythology and suspense in a contemporary page-turner." The novel was nominated for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the 2019 East Sussex Children’s Book Award.

The books I picked & why

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Amari and the Night Brothers

By B.B. Alston,

Book cover of Amari and the Night Brothers

Why this book?

It’s such a fun fantasy adventure! When Amari begins training as a junior agent at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she discovers a whole new world of were-dragons, mermaids, and more. Amari is a brilliant protagonist – she’s clever, spirited, and brave and I loved her determination to find her missing brother, Quinton. 

The Legend of the First Unicorn

By Lari Don, Natasa Ilinčic (illustrator),

Book cover of The Legend of the First Unicorn

Why this book?

I recommend The Legend of the First Unicorn because I adore unicorn stories and this one is particularly special. This beautifully written story is inspired by Scottish legend and the book’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. The Legend of the First Unicorn is a picture book for older readers and is an enjoyable adventure story of imagination, courage, and friendship.

I love that the unicorns in the story are portrayed not as cute, cuddly creatures, but as majestic, powerful beasts. The Legend of the First Unicorn is a stunning book and would make an amazing gift for a child.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap

By Liz Kessler, Sarah Gibb (illustrator),

Book cover of The Tail of Emily Windsnap

Why this book?

When I was doing research for my children’s novel, Secrets of the Last Merfolk, I read lots of stories about mermaids and The Tale of Emily Windsnap was a real favourite. It’s about a girl who discovers that she's half-human, half-mermaid and follows her adventures as she heads underwater to find her missing father. 

Liz Kessler’s debut novel was so popular that there are now nine Emily Windsnap stories, so if you enjoy the first book, you can carry on and read the whole series!

An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures

By Theresa Breslin, Kate Leiper (illustrator),

Book cover of An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures

Why this book?

I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. It is a treasure trove of stories and I am sure will be loved by children everywhere! Kate Leiper’s artwork is stunning and the stories are fascinating and populated by Scottish mythical creatures from Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster to the beautiful selkies. Before reading this book I’d never heard of the half-man, half-wolf Shetland Wulver. A kind and generous mythical creature is a rare beast and I’d love to read more stories about Wulvers!

Dragon Rider

By Cornelia Funke,

Book cover of Dragon Rider

Why this book?

I am a huge fan of Cornelia Funke, whose children’s fantasy novels have a deliciously dark, dangerous element. Dragon Rider is a thrilling, magical adventure and if you enjoy it, why not try Inkheart and The Thief Lord next! 

In Dragon Rider, dragons are dying out and Firedrake, a young silver dragon, is picked to go on a quest to find their ancient mythical home. In the company of his friend Sorrel, a brownie; and Ben, a lonely orphan, Firedrake sets off on a long and dangerous journey to find the dragons’ home and defeat Nettlebrand, the evil golden dragon.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in legendary creatures, family secrets, and Scotland?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about legendary creatures, family secrets, and Scotland.

Legendary Creatures Explore 34 books about legendary creatures
Family Secrets Explore 83 books about family secrets
Scotland Explore 183 books about Scotland

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Hobbit, The Unwanteds, and Whizziwig if you like this list.