Four Great Fiction Series to Read with Your Kids (or by Yourself)

written by J. A. Hart
Magic was essential in my life growing up. I read a lot of fiction as a kid (still do), but they were by no means created equal. Rick Riordan’s books sat well above the rest on my favorites list. I loved the adventure, the danger, and the romance. The magic didn’t just exist on the page; Riordan’s stories cast a spell on my eleven-year-old heart, awakening a longing deep within me. When I finished the last sentence of each book from his series Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Kane Chronicles, I felt an emptiness. Life turned from color to black and white; I always felt like a wild animal in need of more. I always dove back into the world of gods and monsters, reading each book over and over until 2012. I pre-ordered The Mark of Athena on Amazon and waited with bated breath for its release; my excitement maxed out. I felt a tug at my heart, and the voice of my father say, It’s time to sell these books.

What? I thought, Hell no!

Trust me, I heard, but I wasn’t convinced. I loved the gods of Olympus.

Yet, the voice returned time and time again as I read Riordan’s stories. I was afraid to let go, but as I held on, something in me gave way. Riordan’s spell broke; the longing I once felt in his words drifted away like dust in the wind. His stories became dead syllables in hardcover coffins. I once felt lonely without them, and now I felt lonely with them. I sold my Rick Riodan books in September of 2012.

After Riordan, I spent a long time looking for new stories to read; not one of them had the magic I once experienced. I knew I couldn’t return to the unmerciful gods of Olympus, so I continued my search.

About a year later, I stumbled across The Circle Series by an author named Ted Dekker, and it sparked my interest. As I read the first book in the series, Black, I felt a twinge in my heart. With each chapter, the old longing returned like a fire rekindled. I finished the series in a ridiculously short time. The magic returned, and this time I noticed a hint as to why. Decker hid the person of Jesus in the story. When I noticed him, I felt skeptical at first (I am not a huge fan of “Christian” stories), yet I desired Dekker’s story to be true- for, in a sense, Jesus to be real.

Fast forward to C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein. I began listening/reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings in high school. I knew about the stories from the films and the animated features over the years, but I never read the books. They enraptured me. From the first to last page of each book, I experienced magic in tangible ways. The longing in my heart returned like an uncontained forest fire; this time, the reason was undeniable. Lewis and Tolkein wrote their stories the way I believe Dekker wrote his- with God. They acted as co-authors with Christ, writing stories from sanctified imaginations. This led to stories full of God’s truth, goodness, and beauty.
The stories we read matter. An author writes each one with a particular worldview that directs their stories. Rick Riordan’s books lost their magic for my heart because he didn’t write them in co-authorship. It’s not wrong to receive those stories because they do point to God’s story in some ways (as every great story does), but they are only shadows of the truth to our hearts. We need more. We need stories that are not only shadows of the great story but mirrors. Stories that show in color the beauty and magic of God’s greater story. We need stories written by authors like Lewis, Tolkien, Ted Decker, and Andrew Peterson, who I believe co-authored their stories with Christ. They are authors I know I can trust. They are authors I know you can trust. So, four series I recommend reading to your youngsters (or you can just read them too) are:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Ages 3+)
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (Ages 7+)
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Ages 12+)
The Circle Series by Ted Dekker (ages 14+)

Calibration:
- What are you reading right now?
- Who is the author? What is his worldview?
- Why do you trust them?
- Would you say he is a co-author?
- If not, where do you see God’s greater story in the book?

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