By Nyla Lee
As children, we strived to dive deep into worlds filled with mythical monsters, glimmering adventures, and magical forces. We ate it up and absorbed it too quickly, always begging for more and seeking out the best fix for these types of stories.
But why? What made fantasy books so appealing to us in our youth? Why are children so drawn to fiction?
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Why Magic and Fantasy Draw Children to Fiction
These invasive questions have been brewing in my head, and I took on the task to explore them. If you are also curious to know why magic and fantasy get children drawn to fiction, let’s dig in.
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Magic and Fantasy Make Reading Fun
Many children look for fun in their daily lives. Their stunted attention spans require a medium that will enthrall them enough to keep them tight and bound. What can be more fun than reading about fictional lands filled with magic and heroes?
Many magic and fantasy children’s books indulge in fun adventures and easter eggs to keep a child’s interest. One prime example is Rick Riordian’s Percy Jackson series and the titular character’s love for blue foods, specifically waffles. An older reader may get a kick out of that, but young children will especially adore the idea of colorful foods in a world that matches theirs to a fault.
Another example is C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series. Children love to read a story about a wardrobe that transfers them to a magical land–filled with mythical creatures, witches, and fantastical adventures.
Children want books that will engage with them in ways that other fiction books do not. This is why fantasy is so fun for children. It defies the laws of physics and traditional aspects of life for entertainment purposes. Along with that, it keeps a child’s interest in the simplest way. And it allows them to explore worlds that deviate from the real world in meaningful ways.
As a child, I adored reading books about wizards and talking animals, as they were unlike books I had read in the past. A great example was Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Adventures of Edward Tulane – a fantasy children’s novel about a girl’s toy rabbit coming to life and experiencing a series of harrowing journeys across oceans.
It was one of the best books I had read in my life at the time. While the author grounded the story in reality, Edward Tulane’s existence made it evident that the world was so unlike mine.
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They Allow For More Effective Learning
As children, we learn through things that catch our eyes. Bright colors, loud sounds, and cartoonish imagery are effective ways that we used to learn the basics of life. This method is effective when it comes to magic and fantasy books.
Many children’s books have underlying themes and morals that the author intends to relay to their audience. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is one that comes to mind. He teaches children the importance of family, friendship, and diversity under an exciting journey–filled with mythological monsters and children with superpowers.
This is also true of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, as it discusses themes similar to Rick Riordan’s work in a world full of magic and wizardry.
As children, we tend to learn “unconventionally.” From a young age, we absorb as much information as possible and apply it to our lives, as it’s the easiest way to fully make sense of our surroundings.
This premise stands in opposition to nonfiction books or simply teaching children about the importance of diversity and friendship. That is because children tend to gain more knowledge from learning when the content is something they can enjoy.
When I was younger, I learned plenty of lessons from fantasy books. While this is a young adult series, Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series taught me a great deal about found family and diversity. Like the previous books I mentioned, Clare’s fantasy novels are grounded in reality, making me gain an appreciation for her books. In the end, they helped me learn about more complex themes that I hadn’t learned to navigate yet.
Fantasy Books Are Exaggerated and Unrealistic
Childrens’ imaginations are incredibly active, and it is one of the most significant parts of reading as a child. As children, we tend to experience art forms differently, as we are so much more impressionable. It results in us finding comfort and entertainment through exaggerated and unrealistic parts of a story.
That ties into the fun aspect of why children gravitate towards magic and fantasy. The appeal to read about unlikely scenarios, bug-eyed monsters, and floor-to-ceiling staircases with talking photographs is strong among children. Afterward, the exaggeration is fun and interesting.
Going back to Percy Jackson’s blue waffles and Harry Potter’s talking photographs, the magic and fantasy in the books are incredibly exaggerated and unrealistic–the point of magic and fantasy books. In those cases, they were supposed to be grounded in a fictional reality where magic functions in the real world or otherwise.
Overall, as children, we love silly situations and ideas. When our families tell us stories, we love hearing about the stupidly large dragon keeping the comically small princess locked in an average-sized castle. The idea of something that does not exist in our world exists in such a grandiose manner makes life fun.
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Final Take on Magic and Fantasy Making Children Drawn to Fiction
So, why do children love magic and fantasy so much?
It sends them to a new world that completely deviates from their own. Children find fun and mystery in fantasy worlds that overexaggerate mundane attributes of life.
Children’s books contain semblances of wonder in their content when we read them. As children, we are impressionable. And fantasy books use this fact to inject life lessons into our heads and allow us to understand our world in manners unlike before.