The best children’s books about mythical creatures

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Amari and the Night Brothers

Lindsay Littleson Why did I love 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. 

By B. B. Alston,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Amari and the Night Brothers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"AMARI IS MAGICAL!" ANGIE THOMAS

An epic middle grade supernatural adventure series, soon to be a major movie starring Marsai Martin. Perfect for readers aged 8+ and fans of Percy Jackson, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief and Men in Black.

Amari Peters knows three things.

Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.
No one will talk about it.
His mysterious job holds the secret...

So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she's certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau,…


Book cover of The Legend of the First Unicorn

Lindsay Littleson Why did I love 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.

By Lari Don, Natasa Ilinčic (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Legend of the First Unicorn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Once upon a time in Scotland, a young prince had lost his smile.

It seemed nothing could raise a smile from Prince Donald, not the baker's treats or the bard's songs. The court magician tried to make a new magical beast for the prince, but it was so awkward he let it go. Hana, the magician's granddaughter, was still determined to help Donald. Using her grandfather's magic, she invented a majestic creature with the body of a horse and the horn of a gazelle, and called him 'a unicorn'.

Hana and Donald playfully chase the unicorn through the forest, and…


Book cover of The Tail of Emily Windsnap

Lindsay Littleson Why did I love 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!

By Liz Kessler, Sarah Gibb (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tail of Emily Windsnap as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Emily Windsnap lives on a boat, but her mother has always been oddly anxious to keep her out of the water. It is only when Emily has her first school swimming lesson that she discovers why: as soon as she gets into the water, she grows a tail!

Soon Emily discovers a glorious underwater world of fishes, coral, shipwrecks and mermaids, and, best of all, she finds a best friend! With mermaid Shona Silkfin by her side, Emily uncovers a surprising family secret and embarks on a quest to reunite her mum and dad.

This enchanting fantasy deals with universal…


Book cover of An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures

Lindsay Littleson Why did I love 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!

By Theresa Breslin, Kate Leiper (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mysterious selkies, bad-tempered giants, devious fairies and even Loch Ness's most famous resident -- these are the mythical beasts of Scottish folklore.

In the highly anticipated companion volume to the much-loved An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales, award-winning children's author Theresa Breslin brings together a stunning collection of tales from across Scotland.

Alternately humorous, poignant and thrilling, each story is brought to life with exquisite illustrations by Scottish fine artist Kate Leiper.

A wonderful gift, this is a truly stunning book to be treasured for a lifetime and will be enjoyed by parents and grandparents as well…


Book cover of Dragon Rider

Lindsay Littleson Why did I love 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.

By Cornelia Funke,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Dragon Rider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The very first dragon adventure from the legendary author
of Inkheart, Cornelia Funke - now a major film, over
1 million English language copies sold worldwide and a New
York Times bestseller!
Now a Sky Original film, only on Sky Cinema

'A warm-hearted dream of a book.' THE GUARDIAN

'Funke is the queen of world-building ... glorious escapism'
THE TIMES

A dragon. A boy. A journey.

Firedrake, a brave young dragon, embarks on a magical journey
to find the legendary place where silver dragons can live in peace
for ever.

Along the way, he discovers extraordinary new friends and a…


You might also like...

Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time

By PJ Davis,

Book cover of Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time

PJ Davis

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Featured in "Best Middle Grade Fantasy Books" - Reedsy Discovery

"Fun & Fast Paced, This is Middle Grade Fantasy at its Best!" — Shaun Stevenson

"If you know any middle-grade readers who enjoy science fiction/fantasy with a mix of action, danger, and humor - recommend this book to them, or just go ahead and give them a copy." — The Fairview Review

“With elements of adventure, exploration, other worlds, and fantastical science, Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time is an exciting middle-grade novel with plenty of suspense… Behind the adventure are important messages about believing in oneself and finding inner strength.” — The Children's Book Review

"The plot of Nemesis and The Vault of Lost Time is a tapestry of surprises characterized by its unforeseen twists and turns. It’s this element of suspense that grips the readers, while the vivid descriptions create immersive visual experiences. Beyond its adventurous core, this mystery novel delves into themes of friendship and the nuanced dynamics of father-son relationships, offering a multi-layered reading experience." — The Literary Titan

Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time

By PJ Davis,

What is this book about?

Thirteen-year-old Max is a daydreamer. It gets him into trouble at school, but his restless curiosity really turns problematic when he runs into a mysterious professor at his uncle's bookstore.

The old man informs Max that time is being sucked out of the planet by invisible bandits, stolen from unsuspecting people one breath and one sneeze at a time, and is being stored in a central vault. Once full, the vault will fuel a hungry horde of invaders looking to cross into earth, and cross out all its people.

What's more, the professor claims he knew Max's missing scientist father.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in legendary creatures, family secrets, and Scotland?

10,000+ 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 47 books about legendary creatures
Family Secrets Explore 178 books about family secrets
Scotland Explore 307 books about Scotland