Recent events have definitely changed our reality. Travel – or even going out of the house for more than essentials – is no longer an option for many of us.
However, there is still a way for us to escape our homes and explore wonderful new places. Stories have always transported us to magical new worlds, and at this time we need them more than ever.
We can also share our journeys by reading to each other, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, video chat is available to most of us on all kinds of devices. Let’s make those journeys together with our kids, grandparents, parents, godparents, aunties and uncles, anyone your love – use this moment to share stories, visit these magical places, and dream of limitless possibilities.
Here are just a few of our favourite worlds to journey to through the magic of books. You can read the first chapters of many of these tales in Storytime – available through our shop: www.storytimemagazine.com/shop. (We have added notes about which issues the stories can be found in after each entry.) Affordable editions of these books can also be found online, in print or ebook format.
The stories of King Arthur and his knights transport us back to mythical Britain, where brave warriors must go on quests that test their strength, their faith, and their honour. These stories at the foundation of British culture – and have excited and enchanted readers for centuries. The stories have been retold many times, but TH White’s The Once and Future King is a clever retelling that captures the spirit of the originals while keeping things fun and engaging for a modern audience.
(You can read about the Lady of the Lake in Storytime issue 28 and Launcelot’s battle with Sir Turquine in issue 67)
Discworld is a flat world on top of four giant elephants that stand on the shell of a giant cosmic turtle that swims through space, and as you might expect, it is home to many fantastic creatures. Sir Terry Pratchett wrote 41(!) novels set in this world. They are among the funniest books ever written, and despite taking place on such a wacky place, they have some wise things to say about us human beings and the way we live. The best books for younger readers are the Tiffany Aching novels, about a determined young shepherdess who becomes a witch.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is about a lonely young boy who discovers a magical book and learns that he has the power to save Fantastica, a land where all stories are real. However, saving the world is only half the battle! After he saves this magic land, Bastian becomes its ruler and can create anything he can imagine – but risks losing himself in the process! One of the most imaginative books ever written, this story does actually come to an end –but people who read it will still be thinking about it for years to come!
The Land of Oz
Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz took readers down the Yellow Brick Road and introduced us to a world of witches, bizarre beings and quirky heroes unlike any we had ever seen before. He wrote many more novels set in Oz, and the first volume was, of course, turned into a classic movie. (Storytime issue 2)
JRR Tolkien lovingly created perhaps the most detailed and beautiful world in all of fiction over many decades, and it is a great place to visit! The Lord of the Rings is of course the greatest fantasy epic of them all, but The Hobbit is the best introduction to his creation. Forget about the films – let Professor Tolkien enchant you with his tale of dragons, battles, and the finding of a very special ring.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most famous of CS Lewis’s books, but he wrote seven stories set in his magic land. These books allow you to tag along with schoolchildren who find themselves transported to a magical world where animals can talk, mythical creatures are real, and a lion named Aslan helps to defend a magic kingdom from evil.
(Storytime issue 13)
Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of pirates and plunder on a desert island has thrilled many generations of readers with its tales of derring-do. Tag along with the plucky Jim Hawkins and the roguish Long John Silver as they set out on a voyage into the unknown. Not one to be missed!
(Storytime issue 7)
The Snow Queen’s Palace
Far in the north of Lapland lies a magical frozen castle that is home to the legendary Snow Queen! This classic story by Hans Christian Andersen tells the tale of the pure-hearted Gerda travels to the Snow Queen’s domain to free her friend Kai and encounters many icy dangers and frozen wonders on the way!
This is the house where the heroine of the Pippi Longstocking books lives, and it is a wonderful place to visit. Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi is a very strong, very cheerful, and very determined girl who lives life her own way and doesn’t care what anybody thinks. Her house contains a pet monkey, a stash of gold coins, and fiery-haired Pippi herself. Perhaps she will tell you tales of her father the pirate king, or take you on a wild adventure in the woods? (Storytime Issue 26)
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are set in a world of endless surprises and playfully illogical characters. Follow the White Rabbit down that hole and leave reality and logic behind as our heroine gets lost in a bizarre new land inhabited by strange beings that love wacky wordplay. (Storytime issue 1)
That is our list of the ten best fictional worlds to escape into. If you read any of these books, please let us know what you and your children thought about them!
What are your favourite books to escape into? Share in a comment – we would love to hear from you!