Despite all the growing up your middle-school students are doing, there's no need for them to say goodbye to fairy tales and fantasy worlds just yet. Sometimes escaping to places filled with mythical creatures, mystical castles, and bewitching characters is the perfect antidote to adolescent anxieties. So whether you're planning a fairy tale unit, looking for an enchanting literature circle selection, or identifying spellbinding places for independent readers to explore, these titles are sure to work a little magic.

For tips on teaching this literary genre, check out Scholastic's Myths, Folktales, and Fairy Tales lessons and online activities.

 Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
What happens when a 12-year-old boy-genius who's a modern-day criminal mastermind kidnaps a dangerous fairy and plans to ransom her for fairy gold? You get an action-adventure-fairy tale with enough thrills, magical creatures, code cracking, and high-tech gadgetry to entrance middle-school boys and girls. The bestselling Artemis Fowl series continues with seven more installments. To entice reluctant readers, there's even Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel.

 

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Percy Jackson series revolves around another 12-year-old boy, only this one has ADHD, dyslexia, and a penchant for getting kicked out of school. And one more thing, he just found out he's the son of Poseidon, king of the sea. His mythical ancestry lands him at a summer camp for gods-in-training, and soon he's on a mission to find the thief who stole Zeus's lightning bolt before war breaks out on Mount Olympus. Students will enjoy the fast-paced action and the wise-cracking hero. The many references to Greek mythology connect easily to history and literature lessons on ancient cultures. Extension activities and a discussion guide are available. If students finish the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, send them on to explore the New Half-Bloods in the Heroes of Olympus series; Egyptian gods in The Kane Chronicles; or Norse gods in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

 

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Despite the word "princess" in the title, boys will enjoy this fairy tale as much as girls will. The love story between beautiful Buttercup and Westley, a poor farm boy, sets the stage for swashbuckling action among a cast of characters that includes a masked pirate, a Spanish swordsman, a gentle giant, a fast-talking ogre, and an evil prince. The book is peppered with hilarious dialogue and intriguing places (including the Fire Swamp, the Cliffs of Insanity, and the Zoo of Death) that students won't soon forget. Pair a reading of this classic with a screening of the movie version, a cult hit directed by Rob Reiner.

 

 Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
In this medieval tale with a gender twist, Alanna and her twin brother, Thom, switch places so that she can train to become a knight and he can learn sorcery. As if impersonating a boy and keeping up with knights training isn't enough for the brave, headstrong, and adventurous Alanna, she also has to contend with disturbing visions, castle conspiracies, and sinister enemies. Alanna's story continues in three more books, and if that isn't enough, Tamora Pierce has several other series set in the same world of Tortall, including the stories of Keladry, the second lady knight; Daine, who can speak to animals; Aly, Alanna's daughter; and Beka Cooper, who lived 200 years before Alanna.