Is There Enough Fantasy Reading in School?

Books like A Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings have been massively popular amongst readers in recent years, but for one reason or another, these fantasy titles have been ignored by schools, colleges, and universities. What gives? Well, there isn’t one sole answer or explanation, but I have a feeling that schools feel the need to focus on classic authors like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and so on, before they encourage students to venture onto fantasy titles.

No, there absolutely isn’t enough fantasy reading in schools, and that’s an awful shame. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t encourage our children to pursue fantasy titles on their own. Here are three reasons why fantasy should be embraced by kids in school and at home.

They encourage exploration
Fantasy novels have a tendency of opening a child’s eyes up to the world around him or her. Although no fantasy book is the same as another, many of them have their roots in science, physics, space, biology, the supernatural, and numerous other interesting topics. In reading fantasy titles, children develop natural curiosities about different themes and elements, which will inevitably encourage them to explore more books and educational materials.

They promote creativity
In addition to exploration, children can also become creatively inspired by their fantasy readings. Think of it this way: twenty-four hours a day, a child is confined to the real world. They know what to expect in their day-to-day lives, and that can create a sense of boredom. In fantasy books, however, children can escape into worlds full of wizards, magic, science, imagination, adventure, and so much more. When I was growing up, my mother used to talk to me about my fantasy books and their worlds and how I could create my own fantasy books if and when I had the chance. By doing that, she inspired me to write fantasy stories of my own. Sure, they weren’t my most impressive writings ever, but they certainly inspired me to be more creative and adventurous.

They allude to science, religion, and history
As I mentioned earlier, many fantasy titles have their roots planted in science, history, religion, and countless other topics. Before I started reading fantasy books, I didn’t have an interest in science; truth be told, I only relished reading and writing. Yet as I started reading more and more fantasy books, I began to truly appreciate science, history, and other key topics. For the first time in my life, science didn’t seem like an incomprehensible, foreign topic, since it was something I was reading about in my fantasy books.

Schools are rather adamant about sticking to their conservative book lists, but that doesn’t mean we can’t expose children to fantasy readings on our own. To get your kids started in fantasy, try introducing them to well-known titles like the Harry Potter series, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Prydain, and The Once and Future King and see where they may lead.

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  1. I agree complete, Stephen. I also think that a problem schools run into is that students are more easily introduced to more modern literature than they are to be introduced to classic literature, so the schools feel responsible for introducing classic literature.

  2. As a (relatively) recent student in schools, I agree. Our English classes were totally comprised of Shakespeare and other classics such as To Kill A Mockingbird. Nothing wrong with those works at all; just try to keep a bunch of kids who aren’t a tad interested in the classics seated still.

    At the time I was going through school, the Harry Potter franchise was taking the world by storm. I’m sure the class would have much preferred to study that! What with books being turned into movies — Hunger Games being an example — using those books in class means that you’re playing on what’s currently in the student’s world. Sure, it won’t retain everyone, but I feel it would keep the interest of more students than if you cracked open Romeo and Juliet.

    If you want people to appreciate the classics, help them appreciate what’s around them at that moment, and work backwards. If the curiosity is sparked well enough in a person, they’ll most likely do it themselves; you just have to start them off on the more familiar works!

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