If you’re starting to compile a summer reading list–either for read-alouds, audio books for car trips, or chapter books to keep your kids racking up points for prizes–you might want to consider some fairy tale-type stories.
Edith Nesbit is one of our favorite authors, and although she doesn’t write strictly fairy tale narratives, she does often weave in magic or fairy tale aspects. We recently listened to two more of her books on audio–The Enchanted Castle and The Magic World–and were not disappointed.
The Enchanted Castle involves and enchanted castle, naturally, and the adventures of a group of siblings bored on summer holiday plus a friend who is the niece of the housekeeper at the aforementioned castle. The reader for the audio book was superb, and it’s always delightful to learn new (to us) old-fashioned British slang terms. We’ve added “look slippy about it!” and “don’t be a GOAT!” to our repertoire thanks to this volume.
The Magic World is actually a series of short stories, and it turns out that many of them were inspirational to other famous authors. You’ll find, for example, a little girl who goes into a wardrobe in a spare room and has adventures. Sound familiar?
Shannon Hale is a modern writer who specializes somewhat in retellings of old and possibly less common fairy tales. Hannah enjoyed reading a number of these and asked me to read two to discuss with her.
Princess Academy is a well-told tale of mountain girls being trained for potential princess-hood, then working together to bring the best of their village culture to bear in problem solving. I enjoyed the book–especially the well-written setting–and Hannah and I had a good discussion about whether the ends ever justify the means (the book implies that they do).
Hannah really liked Book of a Thousand Days since she is partial to diaries and this book uses that frame. Neither of us felt it was quite as strong as Princess Academy, but it was still a good story. The setting, somewhere in Asia, was interesting. After reading these two books, Hannah read a few more, but I didn’t decide to keep going.
While not technically a fairy tale, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is fantasy and thus belongs to this post as much as do Nesbit’s books. Plus, after reading the abovementioned Nesbit tale you might be inspired to look up other wardrobe stories too! We remembered it had been a while since we read of Narnia, so we got the audio book to listen to in the car. It was quite well done and we all loved listening to the story (again). We might go through the series this summer as our library has the audio books available on Overdrive (by far the cheapest and easiest way to get audio books–ask if your library has it!). That said, we do recommend the actual books as well. This is one of those series where each child in the family needs his or her own set!
And of course, if you are thinking about your own Summer Reading, or have a teen, the Lunar Chronicles are great reconceptions of fairy tale elements.
What’s on your list for this summer?
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