Harry Potter is well known as one of those books that makes reluctant readers not so reluctant after all. When kids turn the final page of Harry Potter, they may even want to pick up another adventure about characters discovering magic, magical trains, mythical beasts and boarding schools.
On this book list you will find not only fantasies, but detective stories, time travel mysteries and nail biting adventures. What all these books to read if you like Harry Potter have in common is that they are page turners. They grab you from the first paragraph.
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Types of Books Like Harry Potter
MORE: if your child isn't quite up for all seven of Harry's adventures, turn to the titles on this list of books for kids not ready for Harry Potter.
Discovery of Magic
These titles feature characters who discover the existence of magic for the first time, or find out that they, themselves, can wield magic.
AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS (series) by B.B. Alston
Amari's brother, Quinton, is missing, but Amari insists that he is still alive. One day there is a mysterious visitor on her doorstep who delivers a package that reveals Quinton's secret. He is part of a Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and now Amari has a chance to find her own magic and earn a place in the Bureau. But Amari is not just an escapist fantasy, Alston deftly incorporates themes of bullying, prejudice and inequality. Ages 8 and up.
A DASH OF TROUBLE (series) by Anna Meriano
In her Mexican-American family Leonora Logroño has five older sisters. Convinced they are excluding her from something important while they tend to the family bakery in their small Texan town, Leo investigates. She discovers a book, Recetas de amor, azúcar, y magia, and that her sisters use magic in their baked goods! Against her sisters' advice, Leo decides it is time that she learn magic, too, but things don't go exactly as she hopes! A delightful fun read for kids who would like a fantasy book set in a real location. Ages 8 and up.
SAVVY (series) by Ingrid Law
The Savvy series is about the magical Beaumont family. Mibs is about to turn thirteen, the age when each child finds out what his or her magic, or "savvy", will be. Her brothers can control natural elements, her mother can do everything perfectly and Mibs is anxious to find out what her special quality is. Right before her 13th birthday party, her father has an accident and Mibs is convinced that her power will heal him. She runs away with her siblings and friends to try and reach him. A magical coming of age story. Ages 8 and up.
THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick
This book has a different approach to "magic" than the others on the list, yet it's place is well-earned. Hugo lives in the walls of a Paris train station when his secretive life is interrupted by the connections he makes with an unusual girl and an elderly toy vendor. A magical, marvelous, intricate, mysterious and stunning book that will inspire kids to tinker and build. Ages 8 and up.
WHAT WE FOUND IN THE CORN MAZE AND HOW IT SAVED A DRAGON by Henry Clark
Cal and his pal, Drew, pick up a mysterious binder that a classmate, Modesty, dropped in a cornfield. The binder is full of tongue-twisting, 800 word magic spells. But there's a catch. Magic only works for one minute at several specific times a day, and all the spells are weirdly specific, "To untangle yarn," "to find lost coins," "to change a room's color," to name a few. Eventually, the three kids are whisked away to a parallel world where magic is in danger of disappearing. Lots of humor and fun word play make this an extra magical read. Ages 8 and up.
Harry Potter honed his magical skills at Hogwarts. These books also feature boarding schools as places full of secrets to be revealed.
THE TROUBLED GIRLS OF DRAGOMIR ACADEMY by Anne Ursu
When 12-year-old Marya Lupu upsets an important visit by sorcerers come to test her older brother for magic, she is sent away to Dragomir Academy. Dragomir is a boarding school housed in a castle donated by a Count for the purpose of educating "troublesome" girls. The teachers, while not unkind, insist that girls follow rules. Marya, and her new friend, Elana, find this difficult. At the academy, Marya, starts to build relationships and questions what she's told about magic, who can wield it, and why it threatens the land. Her discoveries lead to uncovering secrets about the structure of Illyria's society. Ages 8 and up.
THE FALSE PRINCE (series) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The "school" in The False Prince is not technically a boarding school, more of a boarding training-under-threat-location! The kingdom is in turmoil and a nobleman is determined to pass off an unknown orphan as the missing prince. He brings three boys to train at his estate, promising that the one who best completes the test will have a new life as the ruler. Readers will find themselves constantly on their toes as to the outcome and a surprise twist will leave kids eager to read the next books in the series. Ages 9 and up.
The Hogwart's Express takes young sorcerers and witches on a magical ride to school. While school is not the destination of these trains, the adventure is no less magical.
THE SILVER ARROW by Lev Grossman
Grab yourself a ticket to take a ride on The Silver Arrow. On Kate's 11th birthday, her eccentric Uncle Herbert gives her a full sized locomotive. Kate has been waiting for something exciting to happen her whole life, and here is her chance to have an adventure! She and her brother hop aboard and the train takes off! They are joined by a menagerie of talking animals, each of whom has a ticket and soon Kate and Tom understand that their journey is more than just a joy-ride but a world-saving mission. Wry and humorous narration will delight you! Ages 8 and up.
THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE (series) by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis
The opening chapter is intensely suspenseful; what a way to get kids sucked into a book! Two worlds collide when Fin, a master thief in a magical pirate world, meets Marrill, a "normal" girl who boards a ship in a mirage in an Arizona parking lot. The two join up in a multi-world quest to find two parts of a famed pirate map that Fin thinks might help him find his mother. Age 8 and up.
ON THE BLUE COMET by Rosemary Wells.
Like the Hogwart's Express, the Blue Comet is a magical train that takes children on unexpected adventures. However, the Blue Comet crosses time and space, taking its riders back and forth between the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. You can only board the Blue Comet if you possess an intense need to escape your current situation. That's exactly what happens when Oscar witnesses a crime. He is transported through time and must find his way back again. Ages 10 and up.
TRAIN TO IMPOSSIBLE PLACES (series) by P.G. Bell
Suzy wakes up to find a train going through her house! The troll aboard the train enlists Suzy to help make deliveries and she must deliver a package to the evil sorceress, Lady Crepuscula. But, what's this! The package is begging her not to make the delivery. It all gets even more exciting (and weird) from there, with a prince turned frog, a plot to overthrow the kingdom, a brown bear that is really yellow, and more! Ages 8 and up.
BEYOND THE PAWPAW TREES (series) by Palmer Brown
Anna Lavinia's father left home to chase a double rainbow and left behind a mysterious silver key. Anna Lavina sets off "beyond the paw paw trees" that populate the walled garden of her home in search of her dad and the meaning behind the key. Her journey starts with a marvelous train ride which takes her to a place full of wondrous inhabitants. In the sequel, The Silver Nutmeg, Anna Lavinia travels to an upside-down mirror land where instead of gravity, there is "the tingle" (!). While the magic lies in the environment rather than in the protagonists, Harry Potter fans will enjoy these magical classic read aloud books that are also reminiscent of Alice and Oz.
Mythical Creatures & Lands
Harry Potter's world is populated with dragons, house elves and hippogriffs, but there is no shortage of mythical beings in these stories which may also transport you to a magical world.
SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Lily and Wendy are stepsisters, but also friends. One night, during story time with their younger brother, Michael, Peter and the fairy Belle arrive and invite them to Neverland. One sister is eager to go. The other turns down the offer, but Peter's shadow convinces her to follow them. Cynthia Leitich Smith has crafted a truly marvelous re-envisioning of the Peter Pan legend centered around a blended Muskogee Creek and British family. Ages 9 and up.
WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON (series) by Grace Lin
This is one of my favorite chapter books ever. Minli's family lives in poverty and Minli sets out on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon and change her family's destiny. Along the way she is accompanied by the Jade Dragon and her journey is filled with twists and turns of fate. Lin deftly weaves together Minli's quest, her father's stories and wonderful illustrations to create a memorable tale. Don't forget the companion books, Starry River of the Sky and When the Sea Turned to Silver. Ages 8 and up.
JACK: THE (FAIRLY) TRUE TALE OF JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (series) by Liesl Shurtliff
Shurtliff's fairy tale reimagining draws upon both Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer. Jack climbs up the titular plant to rescue his Papa, who has been stolen by the giants in the midst of a famine and ruled over by a greedy, gold-hoarding king with a chicken that lays golden eggs. Shurtliff's inventive twists and the way she weaves in references to popular fairy tales and nursery rhymes is ingenious. Ages 8 and up.
ICE WOLVES (series) by Amie Kaufman
Twins, Rayna and Anders, live by the seat of their pants. Homeless orphans, they must use their wiles to survive. During a village ceremony which reveals which 12-year-olds have the power to shape-shift into wolves, each twin discovers they have magical blood. Rayna can shape shift into a dragon and Anders into a wolf. The trouble is, the dragon and wolf blood communities are mortal enemies. Now Rayna and Anders must discover the secret of why that is. Ages 9 and up.
ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME (series) by Roshani Chockshi
I love that this tale relies on Hindu mythology to take readers on a fantastical journey. Aru has a tendency to stretch the truth, and while she is spending the school holiday at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture (her mother is an archeologist), her classmates dare her to prove her claim that the Lamp of Bharata is cursed. What happens next involves frozen classmates, the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, a demon and the Kingdom of Death! Your kids who want more books like Harry Potter, will be counting down the days until they can read the sequel. Ages 9 and up.