Hogwarts isn’t the only magic school on offer, and Harry and Hermione aren’t the only pint-sized wizard and witch your grade schooler will love. If you’re looking for more amazing bedtime reading to share, and magical stories to get your kid pumped for a trip to the bookstore, try one of these wonderful grade-school books:
Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
One of the coolest things about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the way it gave readers a glimpse at two magical schools beyond Hogwarts: France’s Beauxbatons and Bulgaria’s Durmstrang. The wonderful Akata Witch shows us what life might be like for a budding witch in Nigeria, through the story of strong-willed albino teen Sunny’s discovery that she’s one of the Leopard People, possessing great powers and the ability to communicate with the supernatural world. The revelation sends her to Leopard Knocks, a magical city where learning is rewarded by currency falling from the sky, and figures both wholly original and inspired by African myth run wild. Sunny must hide her new identity from her family, even as she works with her fellow young Leopard People to vanquish a great supernatural evil.
How to Catch a Bogle, by Catherine Jinks
The teachers at Hogwarts don’t want their charges to die or get cursed on their watch, but they’re also not what you would call helicopter caregivers. A child entranced by the relative independence of Rowling’s witches and wizards will adore Bogle, a smart, charming tale that follows orphaned Birdie through the streets and haunted houses of Victorian London. She’s apprentice to a “bogler,” or monster hunter, who uses her as bait (bogles often enjoy a good dinner of raw child), and much prefers her fascinating way of life to the workhouse that otherwise awaits an unprotected, unapprenticed child.
So You Want to Be a Wizard, by Diane Duane
Not born a witch or wizard? What’s a Muggle to do? In Duane’s 1983 series starter, Nita changes her fate with a library book. Titled So You Want to Be a Wizard, she finds it while hiding from bullies in the stacks. Nita soon finds herself becoming a bona-fide self-taught spell caster, and teaming up with fellow novice (and bully target) Kit. Young readers (and not-so-young readers) may find themselves checking and double-checking their bookshelves for a certain cover, but you don’t find the wizard manual: the wizard manual finds you.
The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove
Grove imagines a world torn asunder by the Great Disruption of 1799, a sort of timequake that sent segments of the world spinning randomly through time, each alighting on a different age. Once the world settles into its new order, the way is clear for a new kind of mapmaker, needed to record more than just location in a nearly unnavigable world. Sophia is the niece of Shadrack, a legendary mapmaker and her guardian after her mother and father go missing in time. When he’s abducted by unknown forces, Sophia sets off in search of both him and her long-absent parents. (You’ll have to wait a bit on this one: it’s out June 12!)
The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, by Diana Wynne Jones
If you’ve yet to pick up a book by Wynne Jones, consider this your call to action. She wrote loads of endlessly inventive fantasy novels for kids and intrepid adults, jammed full of twists and magical surprises at every turn. Anyone who devoured tales of Rowling’s wizarding world should jump into this six-book series (plus a number of short stories) with both feet. Set in an altered England, where the most powerful enchanters have 9 lives and there are 12 related worlds they can move among, the series opens on orphaned siblings Cat and headstrong, powerful Gwen coming to live with and learn from the enchanter Chrestomanci. Get ready for some serious sibling rivalry.