The Best Fantasy Books and Series for Teens and High School Students
Welcome to my recommended reading list of the Top 10 Fantasy Books and Series for Teenagers!
For a bit of background on this list, I’ve been an avid reader all my life. And, Fantasy and Science Fiction books were my earliest entries into the deeper world of reading.
I’m also a professional SAT and ACT prep tutor, and I’m constantly urging my students to find new books that are both challenging and interesting to them. This is essential to get the higher scores colleges and universities crave.
If you’re in high school, you should be reading as much as possible, and a top-10 fantasy book is the perfect place to start.
Whether it’s to improve your reading speed and confidence, or to get higher SAT scores and ACT scores (or simply to build your vocabulary for college), these 10 fantasy books and series make great reading for any young adult.
Let’s get ready for some epic stories of adventure, drama, and danger. These are my Top 10 Fantasy Books and Series for Teens!
The Once and Future King is a masterful, deeply artistic retelling of the King Arthur legend by T.H. White - complete with Merlin, Excalibur, and Camelot. A stand-alone fantasy classic, this is one of the few books on my list of great fantasy that isn’t part of a bigger series.
By turns tragic, uplifting, adventurous, and philosophical, the King Arthur story has been made into Disney movies and childish cartoons, but “The Once and Future King” is the real deal.
Return to an era of chivalry and violence - the original “knights in shining armor.”
It’s not the easiest book on this list, but so powerfully told, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Robert Jordan’s massive, epic, tremendous work of high fantasy. I began reading the Wheel of Time novels with The Eye of the World in high school, and kept reading them for years.
The challenge in these books lies mostly in their sheer size and length. It’s common for individual books to be 600+ pages long.
But, those pages are full of wars, adventures, dangers, love stories, and magic. Enemies both natural and supernatural. Battles both mortal and cosmic.
Rand Al’Thor and his friends become some of the most memorable heroes in fantasy, but if you’re impatient, you’ll never get there. Only recommended for advanced readers with strong attention spans.
Watership Down is by far the best book you will ever read about talking rabbits.
Richard Adams weaves an epic and gripping tale of an endangered rabbit clan that leaves their comfortable home, faces harrowing dangers, and grows into the next generation of rabbit leaders.
Compared to most books on this list, it’s an easier read. This fantasy story itself is fun and exciting for younger readers, but the deeper themes will resonate at any age.
“Watership Down” remains one of my absolute favorite books of all time… and I’ve read a lot of books.
A massive, but easy-to-read epic saga across multiple generations and timelines. Beginning with The Sword of Shannara, this is true fantasy - giant birds, magic spells, sword fights, lasers, and sorcery are everyday life in the Shannara books.
The ease of reading makes these books quite versatile. You can read these books at the beach, or during your study hall. The modern style makes them approachable, and no single book is too long (generally speaking).
Also, most of the Shannara books stand on their own - so you don’t have to commit to reading the entire series, but can still have a satisfying reading experience. Try one and see if you like the style.
I started reading these books in early high school, and this fantasy series was one of my favorites from the very start. It’s been great to see the author, Terry Brooks, develop his style, characters, and mythology over the years.
I’ll be completely honest - I’ve only read the first book in this trilogy (The Golden Compass). But, that story has stuck with me for decades, so it must be pretty memorable, right?
The world that Philip Pullman created in this book is so convincing, so unique and spectacular. Children are bonded with magical creatures, and world-spanning mysteries underpin the heroine’s search for her lost friend and her missing uncle.
The only reason I haven’t read the rest of the series (written later), is that I don’t want to spoil my memory of the great book I read.
Anyway, I’m sure the other books in the series are great, too. But “The Golden Compass” stands out as a unique work of fantasy fiction for young adults.
The Death Gate Cycle, starting with Dragon Wing, is a lesser-known epic fantasy series that’s great for teens and young adults. This is one in my “secret collection,” so to speak.
What’s great about this series is the way it manages to honor classic fantasy while being truly unique and full of memorable twists. The complex structure and world-creation of this series is reflected into the story itself. Mazes, magic, and epic betrayals are some of the key themes of this awesome fantasy series.
Part of the maze-like complexity certainly comes from the fact that this series is written by a pair of authors: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
Like some of the other epic series on this list, the Death Gate Cycle takes a lot of persistence. But, the payoffs are worth the effort.
The style of the writing is modern, and the vocabulary level should give some new challenges without being too frustrating. The series provides a great overall difficulty level, and a fantasy series that’s off the beaten path.
I debated putting the Sword of Truth series on this list - not because Terry Goodkind’s books aren’t awesome, but because they may be a bit too mature and challenging for teenagers and high school students.
That said, *I* was reading these books in high school. So, I’d be bit of a hypocrite not to share them.
The massive series begins with Wizard’s First Rule, and like most of the epic series on this list, the themes are classic fantasy: world-spanning adventure, magical swords, timeless romance, death and resurrection.
But, there’s something special about the Sword of Truth series. It might be the sheer *effort* that the author has put into crafting a believable and complex living world. Years after reading them, I can still remember certain key scenes and get chill bumps just from the memories.
There are definitely some adult situations in these books, and plenty of graphic violence. However, by more modern standards, it’s still pretty tame (for adults).
A unique blend of fantasy and mythology set in a recognizably American environment (though written by a British author, Neil Gaiman).
Full of mystery and excitement, American Gods almost reads like a comic book (and I mean that as a compliment).
This book has a more “modern” style than many others on this list, which makes it very approachable and easy-to-read for high school students.
“American Gods” was quickly recognized as a great fantasy book, and won the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards on its publication in 2001.
Come on, you didn’t really expect me to leave the Harry Potter series off this list of great fantasy books for teens, did you?
These books made the author, J.K. Rowling, a billionaire. And there’s a reason for that. If you’re looking at this list and you haven’t read the Harry Potter books yet, then you’re missing out.
The first two books may seem “too childish,” but mature and adult themes quickly develop. By the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you’ll be hooked beyond belief.
A truly rich, satisfying, and action-packed series. Reading doesn’t get more enjoyable than this.
THE classic. THE original. This trilogy, beginning with The Fellowship of the Ring, is the very reason this list of great fantasy books exists.
It’s the Lord of the Rings trilogy that defines the high fantasy genre. Challenging, poetic, epic, and utterly unforgettable. Every fantasy author after J.R.R. Tolkien has, quite simply, wished they were Tolkien.
From humble beginnings, the smallest of folk carry a terrible burden across the world - to save, and redeem, the entire cosmos - as the continent around him and his friends plunges into all-consuming war.
Magic, miracles, and mythos… characters, combat, and cunning… friendship, fate, and family - every key theme of great fantasy writing is present, in Biblical style.
Only recommended for students who have already read at least half of the other books on this list, and enjoyed them. The vocabulary and style of Lord of the Rings will be a (rewarding) challenge even for strong and disciplined young readers.
These 10 Fantasy Books Are Great Reading Projects for Teens.
This list of fantasy books and series will provide years of reading material for any high school student or teen.
Trust me, I know. After all, I spent my teen years reading these books… and then ended up getting a perfect score on the SAT Reading test.
No surprise there! The more you read, the higher your reading scores.
Whether you’re trying to improve your SAT and ACT test scores, or simply reading for pleasure, you can’t go wrong with any of these classic tales.
If there’s a favorite fantasy book I didn’t put on the list, please let me know in the comments section below the article!
Fantasy Books & Series are Perfect Reading Material for High School Students.
High school students should be working tirelessly to improve their reading comprehension, skill, and speed.
Plus, there’s not much you can do to get better at reading - other than to read more. And the key to successfully reading more is to pick fun and exciting books that also challenge you.
Fantasy books are perfect. They challenge your attention and focus. Some are written in an “older style.” Many use complex vocabulary terms. Often, fantasy books have many, many characters that we must keep straight.
In other words, fantasy books and series are perfect to help you improve your SAT Reading and ACT Reading scores, while still enjoying yourself as you go along.
Improve Your SAT & ACT Scores and Reading Skills Today!
Order these great fantasy books from Amazon.com or head to the bookstore today, and start setting aside 30-60 minutes per day to work on free reading.
The books they give you in your high school classes *don’t count*. You need to go “above and beyond” the call of duty if you want to truly stand out.
Remember to copy down any new vocabulary words, look up their definitions, and make flashcards out of them. Fantasy free-reading is the perfect time to bulk up your vocabulary knowledge.
If you’re in high school, contact us for help planning your SAT & ACT Test Prep, so you can get higher scores and get accepted into your top colleges and universities!
Don’t forget to leave any questions or comments below the article… Happy reading!