“Christian fantasy? Oh, that’s full of nasty stuff!” She dropped my book like it was Turkish Delight from the White Witch and backed away from the table.
Selling young adult Christian fantasy books at live events always brings a few characters, but this lady left me speechless.
She marched off to the table next to me and glanced at the titles there. She grabbed one book and turned back to me, holding it up, “Christian romance. Now here are good books!”
She proceeded to buy five (count them, five!) books from the other table. They probably were good books, but I wasn’t able to concede that just yet. I was still recovering from the shock her criticism of the fantasy genre had given me.
Now I wish I had chased her down and asked her what she found so nasty about fantasy, to find out what made her drop it like poison in a silver chalice.
In my very wild imagination, she would let me explain why I think parents should encourage their children to read. She would listen to my reasons and then she would understand why I love this genre, so rich in lessons and fun.
I missed the chance to share the glory of fantasy books.
But maybe she’ll see this post one day. Or maybe you are that lady.
Maybe your child wants to read fantasy, but you hesitate. Maybe the thought of “nasty stuff” makes you want you to discourage reading any fantasy, even Christian fantasy.
If that is the case, stay with me. Let me share why I dearly love fantasy and why I long for my children to love it, and then make your choice.
1. Fantasy books give us a chance to experience truth through fresh eyes.
Since my dad is a pastor, I grew up sitting in pews and Sunday school rooms. Devotions were a part of daily life. I grew up knowing that Jesus died for my sins, but it wasn’t until I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that I felt the grief behind our Savior’s sacrifice and the joy of His resurrection.
Maybe a young girl can relate better to a lion than a man. I don’t know the reasons behind what I felt and I don’t even remember when I connected Aslan as an example of Jesus, but I knew the message. Sacrificial love saved those who are hopeless. Love rescued the unlovable. Hope was fulfilled breaking the long winter. These truths become even more powerful when you realize they exist in this world, too.
Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis
2. Fantasy worlds reflect the morals of our world.
We think of fantasy being filled with things that don’t exist in this world like elves, trolls, and other such creatures. However, both worlds have morals. Love, redemption, revenge, grace, hatred, envy, and pride exist in fantasy just as much as this world. And sometimes it is easier to see folly or wisdom when learning about a different race.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, the dwarves amass a massive treasure, so great that it attracts a dragon. Dwarves are murdered and cast out of their homes until years later Thorin, their leader, attempts to kill the dragon. The cost is more than he bargained for, but at the end, he learns a lesson many of this world could take to heart.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Fantasy heroes show us Godly examples.
Kings are often portrayed as able to do what they want, but in Narnia, they must agree to be first into battle and last to leave. Leaders must do more than they ask others to do, for as Christ taught, to be great means to put others first. In George MacDonald’s books The Princess and the Goblins and The Princess and Curdie, Curdie is an upstanding young man who holds on to the truth when everyone around ridicules him, who works hard, is courageous, and loves his parents. Does he make mistakes? Sure. But more importantly, he learns from them.
I was doing the wrong of never wanting or trying to better. And now I see that I have been letting things go as they would for a long time. Whatever came into my head I did and whatever didn’t come into my head I didn’t do.”
The Princess and Curdie, George MacDonald
4. Fantasy books shows us that anyone can change the world.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the mighty kings and warriors had a problem. A ring existed that would give their evil enemy power to overtake the world. All good would be wiped from the world. The only way to stop this is to sneak into the enemy’s territory and throw it into a volcano.
The kings and warriors didn’t dare to touch the ring for fear that it would corrupt them. Only the small hobbit, Frodo, was strong enough to bear the ring.
Small can do what the mighty cannot. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, you can do something amazing.
Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
So if I have convinced you, then it is time to pick up the sword and join the quest!
Here are 6 Fantasy Series to Read to Your Children.
Do I need say any more? Start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and enter the world Narnia. Adventure, danger, and the great lion Aslan awaits.
Two orphaned brothers escape Enchanted City ruled by an evil enchanter to find the good King. Scarboy lives in fear, knowing that orphans are enslaved. Can he find the courage to conquer his biggest fear?
Normally the story ends when someone rescues the princess, but for Curdie and Irene, the story is just beginning. Guided by her great-great grandmother, the princess and Curdie both strive to rescue the kingdom before goblins kill everyone they love.
The people in these tales are only one inch tall, but their adventures and faith for God are giant-sized. Follow Hawthorn as he goes on his first hunt, only to be captured by the Renegades. As he learns great secrets about life he never knew, he sets out to rescue his father and friends before it’s too late.
- Tales of Larkin: Hawthorn’s Discovery
- Tales of Larkin: Larkin’s Journal
- Tales of Larkin: The Great Gathering
It only took a split second for Geona to know that the beautiful chestnut filly was hers. But the filly was a valuable racehorse and too wild to even touch. When the filly is in great danger, only Geona can save her. Don’t miss the two other titles in this series as well.
When Bilbo finds a ring with power to make him invisible, he had no idea what he found. Now Frodo must carry it to Mt. Doom to be destroyed while all the world, including great evil hunts for it.
Looking at this list with goblins and more, I guess maybe I should concede that the fantasy genre does have “nasty stuff” in it.
But what I see more than that is good triumphing over evil, sacrifice for others, love beating all odds, and hope rising like the golden dawn.
That is why I hope my children one day love fantasy as much as I do.
All stories in which children have adventures and successes which are possible, in the sense that they do not break the laws of nature, but almost infinitely improbable, are in more danger than the fairy tales of raising false expectations.” C.S. Lewis