I didn’t set out to make this the summer of middle-grade fantasy, but this is the genre the kids can’t seem to get enough of so here we are. And actually, I have really enjoyed remembering how much I love stories like this too.
I can’t believe that I missed Lloyd Alexander’s excellent Chronicles of Prydain when I was a kid. These award-winning tales inspired by Welsh legends have a lot in common with the Lord of the Rings series, but in a more accessible, kid-friendly format. The books deal with important themes like finding out who you are, standing up against evil, being a true hero, and being a loyal friend in the context of high adventure quests.
At the moment only Hannah (9 years old) has read this series, but I am really excited to introduce them to Jack (8 years old) because I think he will like the young adventuring protagonist. Really, the series would be great for boys or girls. If you decide to try them as read-alouds I’d recommend checking out the pronunciation guides in the back of each book, unless you are already really familiar with Welsh spellings. You might want to give your kids this tip too, lest you wind up like Hannah and I did, having a discussion in which we could barely understand each other because she didn’t figure out what the names sounded like as she read!
As with many other fantasy series, this one gets more intense the farther you get into the books, although I’d say Prydain is far less intense than, say, Harry Potter. But you may want to pre-read if you have a kid who is very sensitive to beloved characters dying or having to make hard decisions.
The Chronicles of Prydain are excellent books, and definitely the sort of books you’d want to invest in owning because you wouldn’t mind kids reading again and again. Whether or not you can work them in before the end of summer, I highly recommend them!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.