Fantasy Genre Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

One very popular category of children's books is the fantasy genre. This lesson explores the characteristics of the fantasy genre and discusses examples of children's fantasy books.

The Fantasy Genre

Do you like to read books about giants, computers who come to life, or talking animals? If you have books like these on your bookshelf, you are probably a fan of the fantasy genre. Fantasy books tell stories that are not true, and could not ever be true. They may include imaginary worlds, fantastic creatures, or ordinary people and animals who can do extraordinary things. You can often tell a book is a fantasy story by looking closely at the setting and the characters.

Pooh and Friends

Imaginary Worlds

Many fantasy books are set in imaginary worlds, such as outer space or inside a computer. For example, the Harry Potter books are set at Hogwarts, a school for witches and wizards. The Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh is set in an imaginary 100-acre wood, where Pooh, a stuffed bear, and his friends (who are also toys) have adventures. Peter Pan is set in Never-Never Land, a place where children never grow up.

You can tell by the descriptions of the settings that these books are fantasy books; they could not possibly be real because they are not set in real-life places.

A Giant

Fantastic Creatures

Sometimes fantasy books are set in real-life places, but what makes them fantasy books are the fantastic creatures who live in these realistic settings. In the book The Fairy Tale Detectives, sisters Daphne and Sabrina live in New York, which is a real location; however, in the story, they have to solve a mystery and catch a giant! A family home in England is the realistic setting for the book The Borrowers, but the main characters are tiny people who live beneath the floor of the home.

In both these examples, the settings are realistic places, but the creatures are fantastic and could not really exist. These are books are therefore in the fantasy genre.

Ordinary People (or Animals) Who Do Extraordinary Things

Sometimes the fantastic aspect of a book is that the characters are ordinary people or animals who have extraordinary abilities. For example, in Charlotte's Web, the animals who live on Zuckerman's farm can talk to each other, and the spider, Charlotte, can weave words into her web. Similarly, Stuart Little is the story of a talking mouse who lives in New York City and goes on an adventure to find his missing friend. In the book, Matilda, Matilda Wormwood is an ordinary little girl - except for the fact that she starts to read adult books at age three, and has special powers that she uses to help herself survive at her school.

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